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PSA About Little Kids

Oct 17, 2011 - 5 comments

I'm not a doctor so please don't take my advice in place of one; but, I am a mom and the oldest of 5 kids. So, I know a thing or two about children. There are two issues I would like to address. It is the most common topics I see discussed on the child behavior board and parenting toddlers board. These are in regards to eating habits and kids touching themselves.

First of all, KIDS WILL NOT STARVE THEMSELVES. Unless there is something medically wrong they will eat exactly the amount of food their bodies need. Sometimes they need very little food, and sometimes they will eat you out of house and home. Personally, I think it depends on how active they have been and how much they are growing. Whatever you do, NEVER pressure a child to eat. When you do this you are associating eating with stress and pressure.  Eating should be a pleasurable experience and relaxing. Many children like to graze and take their time when they eat. They don't like to be rushed. Some children are very picky eaters and don't like certain textures. My DD's pediatrician suggested introducing a new food that she refused to try every 2 weeks. This gives her enough time to forget about the last taste testing. Stress is for grownups so I think we as parents and caregivers should try to protect our children from feeling stressed out and worrying about things.

If you are really worried that your child isn't getting enough nutrients, try adding a supplemental drink like Pediasure. My DD has to drink this in place of milk since she is lactose intolerant. Remember that these are very filling (more than milk) and can fill up a child's little tummy as much as 1 meal can. Often my DD will just have this for lunch. I think some kids are more drinkers and some are more eaters. It's nothing really to worry about.

If your child really won't eat and it's becoming a serious problem make sure you talk to your pediatrician immediately about it. There are some legitimate medical reasons why some people have a hard time eating. Here are some conditions that I would talk to a doc about in a case like this:
Crohn's/Colitis
Diabetes
IBS
Lactose Intolerance
Ulcers
Celiac Disease
Other general allergies
Once again, NEVER blame the child or make them feel bad about eating or not eating. NEVER EVER spank them or hit them to get them to eat the way you want them to. Relax and let them be a kid.

The second thing I want to say is that kids will touch themselves. It's nothing to be embarrassed about or even make a big deal out of. Be very calm about it and explain to the toddler that they need do it privately in a room with no other people. I think kids do it to relax and because they are exploring their bodies. It's NORMAL.
Of course we all know occasionally abuse does happen, so follow your gut. If you think something really is wrong then do something about it. But, no matter what you do don't let the child know that you are worried and freaking out inside. Don't let them know that it may be a big deal. Say nothing and getting advise from an expert.

As parents and caregivers it is our job to worry. We all do it because we love our children, but sometimes we take it too far. Let go, relax, and enjoy life. Enjoy your families and let kids be kids. They aren't nearly as fragile and stupid as we so often treat them. They are independent little people with feelings, emotions, and instincts.  


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by adgal, Oct 17, 2011
I think this is a wonderful journal and commend you for writing it.  I agree with all that you have said, and am a huge believer in not trying to force children to eat.  I truly think it creates eating issues later in life.  An example...a friend of mine had to eat every thing put in front of her no matter what.  She had to sit at that table until done, and if she didn't finish it, she got if for breakfast the next day.  To this day she is the pickiest eater I know.  She hates everything.  I on the other hand was never forced to eat.  I will try  just about anything.  So we are following the later example and just don't make a big deal out of what our son eats or doesn't.  He is only offered healthy options, some he loves, others he refuses.  He is healthy and normal.

I also like what you say about children touching themselves.  It feels good and yep, its normal.  My 21 month old's favorite bathtime toy right now is himself..lol.  I do believe that making this an issue will just confuse him and make him feel like something is wrong with him.  No big deal at all.

Really good journal.  I hope others read this and get as much out of it as I did!

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by skepticalpeach, Oct 17, 2011
Thank you for your kind words adgal! I think kids are a lot easier to understand than we think.

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by Kim21061, Oct 18, 2011
Great post!!!

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by adgal, Apr 24, 2012
I just wanted to add onto this something I recently learned.  We are seeing a dietician as my son requires a high calorie high protein diet.  In discussing toddler's general eating habits, she told me this "young children do a wonderful job of self regulating what they need.  If all of us as adults or older children did this well, obesity would not be an issue any longer".  She also confirmed what you say here...never make the amount of food a child eats an issue.  Do not reward nor punish, just allow meal time to be a normal thing.  We choose what they eat, they choose how much. She is a Pediatric Dietician, and my Pediatrician referred me to her. She is very good at what she does.  Thought this journal was the perfect place to share this.

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by Trialanderror, Jun 03, 2012
Great post, thank you!

"We all do it because we love our children, but sometimes we take it too far. Let go, relax, and enjoy life."

Right on. This was just the reminder I needed today that I do not want my son to remember his childhood as a battle but a large field of joyful exploration. If only there were 48 hours in a day.

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