I worked with a health-conscious mom who was complaining about how her son was always asking to have foods that weren’t nutritious. “He just wants macaroni and cheese all the time! He’d eat it for lunch and dinner if he could! She described the power struggles that would ensue leading into meal time. I thought about how much they were butting heads and wanted to tell the issues that were less important, not safety issues, off the table.
I suggested to the mom that she designate a week that is “mac and cheese week.” I said that during mac and cheese week her son could eat nothing but mac and cheese all day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack. The mom was a bit dubious, which I can understand! “I’ll never be able to get him off of macaroni and cheese,” she said. I said, “I don’t think it’ll take a week. I think that mid-week that’ll be the end of it and you won’t have this power struggle with him anymore.” She was willing to give it a go, and in the following meeting, she said, “It was just like you said, three days! He had so much fun that he asked if we could do it again next year!”
Why did that work?
When there is a dynamic between parent and child which has been grooved, with the parent as the withholding one and the child as deprived, it’s important to turn it on its head. When the mom, basically switched places with the child, it allowed them to get free of the ongoing power struggle.