Division of Responsibility of Feeding*
The Division of Responsibility of Feeding is the tool needed to follow the Trust Model. As a parent it is your job to decide What, When and Where to feed. It is the child’s job to decide How Much and Whether to eat it (Satter, 2000). When the line is crossed between the division of responsibility of the child and the parent, feeding can become unpleasant. Let’s look at each one individually in more simple terms. The first responsibility is What- you are responsible for what food you serve on the table.
You can not be upset with your child for not eating vegetables if you rarely or sporadically serve them. On the other hand, you can not be upset if all your child eats is junk food or sugar-sweetened beverages if you serve them. These are both examples of a breakdown in the Division of Responsibility of the parent’s job.
When – You are responsible for determining when you give your child food. Children who do not eat well or do not feel they are getting enough to eat will often become preoccupied with food. As the parent it is your responsibility to make sure your child is being fed at reliable times during the day to give them ample opportunity to feel full.
Where- This is a simple one. All food should be served at the table or a designated eating place. Family meals are not a priority in our current society. In order for a child to be successful with eating all food must be served family style at the table. Allowing your child to eat in front of the television distracts them and does not allow them the opportunity to do their job of eating well. Also, giving children handouts with not allow them to come to the table hungry.
Now lets look at your child’s job-how much and whether to eat the food. There is no way you are going to get your child to eat when they don’t want to. Forcing your child to eat more, finish everything on their plate and/or restrict food intake is wrong. Children and even infants are experts at determining how much they need. Children will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full and grow up doing so unless we interfere. Restricting food does not work. Again, children know how much they need to eat; when a child is continuously restricted they will resort to other tactics to get the food they need. This can often set the scene for sneaking food, preoccupation with food and tantrums at the table.
The key to successful eaters is the Division of Responsibility with Feeding.
*Concepts based on Ellyn Satter’s Trust Model