Develop a plan for change
8 steps to mealtime bliss.
(Getty Images)
Once you know how to identify what needs to change, you’ve probably come up with some techniques you want to try out.  But before you go rushing into change, you need a plan. 

First, don’t do it all at once.  Go slowly and change one thing at a time.  I recommend that you change poor behaviour, such as tantrums, before you work on food issues.  Then follow these 8 steps.

  1. Decide exactly what you are going to do.
  2. Anticipate how your child will react and how you will respond to her reaction.  This involves planning to cope with your own fears and feelings.  Have specific strategies ready to deal with all these reactions.
  3. Talk to your child about what you are going to do and why.  (Tell other caregivers too.) I recommend you do this one day in advance.
  4. Tell your child when the changes will begin.
  5. Tell your child that you recognise that the changes might be difficult and tell him what you are going to do to make them easier. 
  6. Tell your child what behaviour you expect during the changes and what the consequences will be for misbehaving.
  7. Make the changes on schedule.
  8. Recognise positive behaviour immediately and repeatedly with verbal praise.  Implement consequences if necessary but be careful never to punish your child for not eating, only for fits or tantrums.

Read from the beginning:
Step 1: Develop a successful mentality
Step 2: Think Big! Decide what habits you want your children to have when they grow up and teach these habits now
Step 3: Identify what your child is getting out of acting and eating this way and provide alternatives
Step 4: Identify what is holding you hostage and develop strategy for coping

Dina R. Rose, PhD, is an American sociologist who specialises in children and food. She continued her research while in South Africa with her family for a sabbatical year. Dina will be returning to South Africa in August and is available to address groups of parents on food and parenting issues. If you are interested in arranging a visit from Dina for your school or parent group, mail Dina on

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