DISCLAIMER: This post is written by a mother who is in daily need of God’s forgiveness and grace as she seeks to “fear God and follow His commandments”.
CONFESSION: The author actually likes oreos very much but has in the recent years mostly avoided them because of their obvious lack of nutritional content. =)
If little children are fed a constant diet of mac & cheese, candy, hotdogs, etc. how can they learn to eat food that will strengthen their bodies and keep them fit for serving God? Countless times I have heard “my child is a picky eater!”. Did you know that it is possible to train appetites? Here are 4 simple suggestions for educating/changing your child’s eating habits:
Appetites are actually developed in the womb!! Yes, you can help your child love their vegetables by making good choices during your pregnancy. When your baby is ready for food, these good habits can be nurtured by introducing mashed vegetables before cereal and fruit.
Giving your child 3 square meals a day with no snacks in between-no fruit juice, milk, apples, cheerios, popsicles, candy, etc. etc. etc. will greatly improve the chance that your child will eat what is placed before him at mealtimes.
A great breakfast is eggs, oranges, and muffins; lunch coud be wraps with veggies &, cheese/soup/bread; for dinner you could have rice and hamburger casserole, green beans, and a salad. If your child is “STRONG-WILLED” and chooses not to eat what you fixed, just smile and tell them you will put their food in the fridge until they are hungry for it. If you are feeling exceptionally kind, you can heat it up for them when they are ready to eat it. =) I have also served the salad first with a promise that more food would be served when the salad was eaten. (A certain toddler in our house, who shall remain unnamed, was not fond of lettuce. It was astonishing to see how well he ate a moderate helping of lettuce when it was the only food on his plate. The ending to this story is that this young man now enjoys large helpings of salad!) A hungry toddler who has not had snacks, WILL eat even the more undesirable foods if they are truly hungry. Believe me when I tell you that we have learned these lessons through trial and error and with God’s grace.
Learn to enjoy your veggies, make good food (herbs & spices make food amazingly yummy!), and serve it cheerfully.
In this area most people would consider our family quite narrow minded indeed. In our family we have made the decision to not allow video games (except an occasional typing program), excessive texting, young children having email accounts & phones, and most movies. There is way too much to do in life for us to be spending excessive time on the internet or in front of a TV. I am especially concerned to see large numbers of parents entertaining children as young as 7-9 months old with videos on their phones. This is harmful to the babies’ brain in so many ways.
It takes patience and careful training, but even infants can be taught to sit still without constant entertainment. As we have traveled across the country, we have heard heartbreaking stories of young people and parents who are addicted to their phones, video games, movies, and pornography. Somewhere these addictions began as one video game, one harmless movie, one look at a magazine or internet site, or a simple cell phone without any guidelines.
I wish changing media appetites were as simple as changing food appetites but unfortunately, that is not the case. If you find yourself with these kinds of addictions, God is willing and able to give victory to those who will do what 11 Chronicles 7:14 tells us to do, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Read it to them often- daily. Teach them to establish their own personal time in the Word (as soon as they can read) and prayer (when they begin to talk) every day. This is taught best by your example as they see you begin every day with God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” –Matthew 6:33
Sing at your local nursing home. Visit a widow. Take a meal to a young family or someone in need. Rake leaves for an elderly woman living alone. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Reach out to your neighbors. There are ministry opportunities no matter where you live!
Start by reading the Word of God aloud to your child in the womb. Continue with reading during feeding time with your infant. A toddler will enjoy snuggling on your lap for short Bible Stories with colorful pictures. (My favorite is Uncle Arthur’s Bible Stories) Read stories that teach your children good character. Missionary stories and biographies are a favorite at our house. Why have a book that doesn’t teach good values or morals? ( (Be watching for our recommended reading list, coming soon!)
When our children were younger, we played Memory, Candy Land, Uncle Wiggly, and Shoots & Ladders. These games teach counting and color skills, memory skills (how many times was I beat by a 3 yr old in a game of memory?!), and the joys of winning and losing. These days we play Dutch Blitz, Scrabble, Rook, Boggle, Settlers of Catan, and Axis & Allies. 🙂
Sing unto the Lord. We recently met a family with young children (all under the age of 14, I believe) who will sometimes stay up quite late playing their instruments and singing together just because they love it! I don’t suppose they have much time to watch movies or play video games!
You can read more about this topic here.