Last week, the father of a 6.5-year-old daughter asked me for a consultation (I removed the names for confidentiality reasons):
Hello Tatiana! The girl choked on food 10 days ago. During the meal, I looked at the cartoon tablet. We began to warn her that during the meal you can not be distracted by TV and gadgets, as you can choke and die. Apparently, they went too far.
Gradually, over the course of the week, she increasingly refused solid food. The last three days, eating only a very liquid semolina and mashed potatoes in a blender, and that is very bad. He actively drinks water or milk.
We do not press on it. We try not to focus on eating. But every day it only gets worse. The child is very mobile, sociable, but timid and cautious. Please, give recommendations how to act, we will be very grateful.
Such cases I meet very often. I see how many parents are completely lost and do not know how to behave. Panic and acute fear for the child settles in the family. And they can be understood.
Therefore, I decided to briefly describe what happens at this moment with the child, what psychological mechanisms are included in his mind and how you can go from an acute period to a soft one, in order to return to the same rut. In the period when the child calmly ate everything.
Until the critical moment (that is, before the girl choked on food) there was a normal and stable eating behavior.
According to her father, she ate almost on automatism, quietly chewing and swallowing chewed food. This automatism was developed against the background of previous positive experiences with chewing and swallowing food.
What happened to her at that critical moment? A blast of fear. Panic. The old automatism fell apart. The strongest survival mechanism is activated in the brain. And if a girl has the features of a melancholic type, according to her temperament, these feelings will be strengthened.
It is for this reason that her brain is now blocking solid food and giving the command to her body to eat only safe food.
The child is not aware of this, he acts as he feels intuitively, it is impossible to interfere with this. Those. choosing a liquid and light food the body of the child in this transitional moment as if trying to make sure that the food is safe and you can go further with solid food.
If the girl previously had a successful conditioned reflex, I eat calmly, but now a new conditioned reflex of rejection of solid food has formed, amid fear of choking.
Now the question. How to unlock this reflex so that it does not become stable and die?
Remember how habits are acquired and then lost. There are 2 ways:
1. We need a certain sufficiently powerful signal or situation, which (th) will override the previous one and form a new conditioned reflex.
2. Or you need to stop backing up unwanted behavior and it stops.
At the same time, the previous habit (fear and choice of liquid food) dies away not instantly, but gradually. It may occur once, then another then less and less. And, finally, until it is replaced by a sustainable new (there is an ordinary food).
In other words, the girl needs to create such a successful situation in which she can eat something freely and at her own will. Now it does not matter what it is: liquid or solid. It is important calm attitude to food.
And to stop worrying and reminding the family about food (as the excitement of the family only reinforces the child’s fear and does not solve the problem), to provide understanding and maximum support.
As soon as the girl relaxes and becomes free to eat of her choice, she also gradually goes to the usual food. Only in this way will this fear pass.
Few parents realize that this problem lies at the junction of biology and psychology. I had a case when my mother was angry with a child that he did not want to eat as much as she put on his plate. Everything seemed to her a little. And the child’s attempt to abandon some dish enraged her.
There were so many tears and sufferings from both the child and the mother! When she found out what was wrong, she radically changed her approach to nutrition.
In more detail about the mechanisms of formation of conditioned food reflexes and the chain of normal eating behavior, I told in the course “Oh, pieces, lumps! How to help a child eat solid food?” (click on the link and see the full description, the course itself in PDF format, with a volume of 131 pages and in MP3 audio format, 4 hours long).
I recommend to study carefully at many points you look another way.
The course will be suitable both for mothers who are just starting to feed their children and who have everything ahead, and for those who are trying to fix the child’s feeding for various reasons. And the mechanisms described in the course are universal for any age, since they are very ancient, based on biological laws, plus here are added the features of our human psyche.
Go to the direct link to order the course Oh, pieces, lumps
You can still read: Mama Neznaika or Ignorance of favorable periods in the development of the child’s eating behavior. Part 7 Mole Mama or Blind Hope for Canned Food and Blender. Part 6 Mummy or Excessive care and increased anxiety Why is it so difficult to feed a child? Born a new course Oh pieces, lumps! How to help your child eat solid food