by Melanie Potock, CCC-SLP
As an SLP focused on the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders, there is one common denominator among all the families on my caseload: The stress in their homes at mealtimes is palpable. Now that Thanksgiving and other food-centered holidays are approaching, the anticipation of an entire day focused on food has many parents agonizing over the possible outcomes when well-meaning relatives comment on their child’s selective eating or special diet secondary to food allergies/intolerances.
This time of year, I try to find practical ways to reduce the stress for these families. One of the first steps in feeding therapy is for parents to lower their own stress level so that their child doesn’t feed into it (pardon the pun). I often address parent’s worries with a “What IF” scenario. I ask, “What’s your biggest fear about Thanksgiving?” The top 3 concerns are as follows:
What IF Junior won’t take a bite of Aunt Betty’s famous green bean casserole?
It’s not about the bite, it’s about wanting Aunt Betty’s approval. Focus on what Junior CAN do. If he can sprinkle the crispy onion straws on top of Betty’s casserole, call Betty ahead of time and ask if he can have that honor. Explain how you would love for him to learn to eventually enjoy the tradition of the green bean casserole and his feeding therapist is planning on addressing that skill in time. But, for now, she wants him to feel great about participating in the process of creating the green bean masterpiece. If Junior can’t bear to