The Effects of Shaming Your Child’s Eating

  January 9, 2017

The Effects of Shaming Your Child’s Eating

Most parents don’t set out to intentionally shame their child or their eating, but it happens more often than you think. The shame is used most often in an attempt to change the outcome of what or how much your children will eat. However, the negative comments are sure to cause more issues with their eating, not less. The effects of shaming your child’s eating can harbor long term effects.

Researchers do know, children who feel shamed about their eating are more likely to develop disordered eating, anxiety with food and more inconstant growth. The severity of these disordered eating habits can range from a minor issue with eating vegetables to  a full blown eating disorder.

When your children lose the enjoyment around eating, it’s inevitable their eating will get worse. While it started out as an innocent technique to help them eat better, in the end the shame does just the opposite.

I’ve seen it in my practice so many times in the past decade. The same comments the parents make to me about their child’s eating are parroted in my conversation with their child.

It goes something like this, “Can you tell me why you think your parents made an appointment to come see me today.” Almost verbatim they repeat what their parents said. “Because all I like to eat is carbs.” or “Because I don’t like fruits and vegetables.” “Because I need to lose weight.” Your children are listening to you, the words are ingested but the shame makes it worse.

It’s good to check your commentary on your child’s eating. Do any of these statements ring true in your household?

You never eat any vegetables?

All you want to eat is carbs!

No, you can’t have any more junk food. You eat too much sugar. 

You need to take two more bites before you can have more of….

Your sister is such a good eater, why aren’t you?

You can’t eat that because of your weight.

Don’t eat that, it’s bad for you!

You are the worst eater!

While I can relate that trying navigate this world of feeding our children in a country obsessed by nutrition and weight can be hard. I also know we are seeing a rise in eating disorders, picky eating and disordered eating. It’s not coincidence.

Speak to your children about their eating with compassion. Becoming a “good” eater is a process that takes time and patience. The gentler and more joyful the process is, the less anxious and competent your child will become with eating well.

Thank you for Reading! What do you think? Have you noticed a difference if your child gets shamed about their eating?

Feel free to comment below!


2 responses to “The Effects of Shaming Your Child’s Eating

  1. Love this! My husband really helps me because I tend to lean towards the “only healthy all the time” end of the spectrum. We decided long ago that we wanted to choose our battles wisely with our kids, and we absolutely did NOT want food to be one of them! The words, “You don’t have to eat that” totally changed my life! ;)

    1. Hi Laura! Yes, I think there has to be a healthy balance. I look at is this way, what our children eat isn’t about today, tomorrow or even next year. It’s how they learn to eat and manage food. If we can teach them to do a good job eating all foods, they can learn to do a great job as they grow and eventually tackle it on their own when they go off to college or move out.

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