Setting Limits and Listening about Food

Photo (C) Alicia Solario 2009

This morning my daughter had a tantrum because I didn’t give her as much maple syrup as she wanted. She declared she wasn’t eating breakfast and threw herself into some angry crying.

I quieted my mind that wanted to argue with her and say, “You asked for pancakes all morning and you have plenty of syrup!” I now know that all logic washes away when the mind is flooded with emotion. Reason wasn’t going to work with her, so I sat on the floor with her and listened as she cried. I reminded myself this wasn’t really about not having enough maple syrup and calmly told her it was okay if she didn’t want to eat right now. Breakfast could wait for her to be ready.

I stayed with her as she cried more, telling me it wasn’t enough and she needed more. I held the limit that it was enough. She struggled in my arms a little as I held her until she ended up lying on her back with her feet at my stomach. I continued to listen to her until she settled down.

I leaned forward to kiss her head, but she pushed her feet into my belly, keeping me away. I playfully tried again and again. This got her laughing. Finally, she didn’t push me away and she let me kiss her forehead.

She then crawled into my lap, snuggled and said, “I’m ready for my pancakes now.” Her tantrum only took a few minutes of listening and we ended up enjoying a nice breakfast together. I was also amazed that she ended up having leftover syrup in her container which she offered to me instead of guzzling down like usual.

– Michelle Pate, Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant, join her upcoming BEU class starting March 14th. You can also connect with her on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “Setting Limits and Listening about Food

  1. What do you do with your other children while this one is taking all your attention away from them?

  2. Thank you for you question!
    You are right it can be more challenging to to do with more then one child. You could end up doing Staylistening with two kids at the same time… dividing your attention between them (it is doable!). However, there is a big chance that if you’re going to set limits in that way more often, your children will be able to respect their sibling’s turn to get the needed attention and connection. My experience shows that our kids do get it, and can actually tell when their sibling needs to cry.
    Here is another blog post that talks about it.
    http://superprotectivefactor.com/2012/01/23/when-our-kids-show-us-they-get-it/
    Hope that help!
    Ravid Aisenman Abramsohn
    Hand in Hand Certified Trainer in Israel

  3. Michelle, enjoyed reading this and is similar to something that happened in my home yesterday at breakfast with setting a limit. With 3 children I can share that for us, overtime siblings have learned that mom is giving attention / listening to the once child but that soon enough all will be restored to “normal” I often find the other two carry on with breakfast or play, or whatever activity they were involved or sometimes they come with something nice to say or offer a tissue – which may or may not be well received in that moment 😉 sharing this!

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