Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Letter to a 5-year old friend

Dear Little One,

You and your family have been a part of our lives since long before you were born-- you're practically extended family to us, and feel sort-of like an auntie ( your Crazy German Aunt?).

You're VERY special to us, and we love you!

I'm writing to you because we have an issue with dinners when you come over to our house. Unfortunately, your behavior has become so much of a problem that it makes dinnertime unpleasant -- for me, the cook, for your parents and everybody else at the table. I hope we can find a way to turn that around.
First of all, let me assure you that to me, personally, it's not a big deal if you don't eat what I cooked. I'd love for you to try what I cooked, but if you end up not liking it, then that's that. No problem.
But I do have a problem when you fuss. When you whine "I don't like it!" or even say "Yuck" before we start eating -- well, that hurts my feeling. I think you can understand why: if you made your mommy a present, and she said "I don't like it" before she even opened it, that would really hurt your feelings, wouldn't it?

Your parents usually ask you to try new foods. You may not feel so adventurous, especially if it looks unfamiliar (crazy German food)? Your parents are just doing what all good parents do -- they ask their kids to give something new a chance. Because they know if you never tried anything new in your life, you'd still be living on breastmilk and baby food, and I bet you've come across many yummy foods since you ate strained peas as a baby!

So what I'm asking of you, please don't make such a big fuss when you eat dinner at our house. Here's a deal: First, give it a try. I'll serve you a small serving (one bite). If you don't like it, say so politely ("No more, thank you"). That's all. No big deal!
Hopefully there will be something at the dinner table that you do like. But if there is not, that's still not a reason to fuss.
You can ask nicely if there might be something else for you to eat, but there may not be (that will really be up to your parents -- they may choose to tell you there are no other choices). You won't starve, but you won't get dessert either.
At this point, you may start feeling very sorry for yourself. What always seems to happen with kids at this point is that they start a big fuss, trying to get their way. We've all done it at some point in our lives, and guess what, we found out the hard way that it's really not worth it!

Here's what I need you to understand: fussing will not get your way at my dinner table like you did the other night. From now on, I'm going to ask you (or any other kid fussing), to leave the table. It's really very simple. You're welcome back when you're calmed down and can be polite.

Oh, by the way, here's a hint: if you tell the cook when you do like a dish, that will not only make him/her smile, it will even make them cook your favorite foods more often!
PS: unless they're still on breastmilk , of course:)

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