Yesterday we had yet another heavy discussion with Alice about her food issues. I have made a real effort in recent weeks to eat with the girls more and have more family meals on weekends. The net result has been more opportunities for her to try foods and the follow on is an increase in her stress levels (often internalized). We have been following some additional strategies we learned from our Occupational Therapist appointment last month.
We were about to have a BBQ for dinner as we often do on Sundays. Unfortunately I did not realize we had no sausages on hand (her preferred food when we have our BBQs) so we were making hamburgers and had a few chicken satay skewers as well. She got very upset at the idea, but thankfully we had a good chat after I calmed her down.
She said she had already tried so hard this week since we had three dinners together in a row. She just wanted a quesedilla and to relax. We talked about progress and how I could keep helping her. She finally said she does want to make progress, but wished she could just arrive magically at the end result. I could totally understand and relate – both for her own story (how I wished we had a magic fairy who would sprinkle dust on our house and make this better) and for my own. I realized this is exactly how I feel when I am pushing myself in a new direction and am afraid and uncomfortable. Resistance is normal. It is hard to push through. Too often I have also wanted some magic fairy dust to help me skip the hard parts.
We were brainstorming what can help her and one idea was a chart to map her progress. I went against my normal hatred of reward charts and asked her if she wanted to have a goal in mind and a reward for reaching it.
She suggested for every 10 days she tries new foods she gets “a day off”.
I loved the fact that she chose a non-material reward.
I pointed out that 10 days might be pushing herself too hard and we settled on 6 days of the week she tries something she does not normally eat and 1 day to simply enjoy all her favourite foods with no new foods at all. The “day off” can change according to the week so she is in control. We will work out the new foods together (something I keep trying to involve her in, but she often refuses to plan the meals with me).
Not quite the magic fairy dust we all hope for to make change easier, but I think we have touched on many of the issues that cause the stress and anxiety. Not knowing what is coming can make things more intense when you are suddenly faced with a challenge. Not giving yourself a break can lead to burnout. It is great to strive for change and growth, but if you are in it for the long haul you really need a plan and time to reboot and rest (physically and emotionally).
I love how in the midst of “teaching” or guiding my child I have these moments of teaching myself.
Do you ever have your own a-ha moments when parenting your children? Like us, do you wish for magic fairy dust in your life?
Find your simple,
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Image credit: flickr user greyloch