Oct 17, 2011
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:
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.