Mother: “My 14-month-old daughter gets bread for breakfast and lunch. With toppings that she usually likes. But as soon as we sit down with her with our own breakfast, for example a sandwich with cheese, she definitely wants that. She then throws her own pieces of bread on the floor. If you pick it up and put it in her mouth, she’ll spit it out, and she’ll get angry if she doesn’t get the cheese off our bread. We don’t want to give her cheese all the time, nor do we always want to give in. But a hysterical toddler at the table doesn’t help either. With more than a year old, is this the time to start parenting and stick to it? If so, how can we best approach this? Or does that make no sense at this age?”
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Take it easy
Tischa Neve: “Yes, now the upbringing starts, but that doesn’t mean ‘put your feet up’, but looking at the big picture. This is the age at which a child discovers that it is not an extension of its parents, but its own person. The world is getting wider, they want to arrive everywhere. They will practice developing their will. This often happens in the area of food at such a young age, because they quickly realize that they have power over it. Parents can still pick up a toddler if it doesn’t want something, but they can’t force it to swallow.
“Don’t make it a power struggle, but deal with it playfully and loosely. Immediately give her a few bites from your plate at the table and take a few from hers, so you’re ahead of a tantrum. It is advisable not to do this until she throws her plate on the floor, because that indeed sends the message that she gets her way with it. If she does throw her food away, keep calm. Drift should not be rewarded at this age, but neither should it be punished.”
make it cozy
Marga Akkerman: “What a lovely temperamental child. She’s not out to be annoying, but to belong with Mom and Dad. She wants to eat whatever the grownups eat! Why not give her the sandwich that you have yourself right away?
“There are a few areas that parents have no control over their young children: defecating, peeing, crying, sleeping and eating. Parents always lose a power struggle over food. At the most you can create conducive conditions. Educating also means: being able to tempt the child to do something that it actually did not intend to do. In this case, it means that the dining table is a pleasant, cozy place where the emphasis is not primarily on the food, but on social gathering. If the child ingests something healthy, it is sufficient. You are not ruining your child with this.
“Does this mean that you should give your child her way in everything she wants? New. Talk to your partner about what you think are really important rules in parenting and stick to them. Then it might be about bedtimes or issues of safety. If you take a consistent approach in those few areas, ‘no is no’, then your child will automatically learn that she has reliable and predictable parents, you do not have to set rules all day long.”