Tag Archives: talking with children about eating

Eggs, PopTarts or?

Part 2 of 5 in the “Five Most Common Back-to-School Problems and How To Fix Them” series.

THE #2 PROBLEM ~ Making time for a healthy breakfast

If you and your family have a system that works so everyone leaves the house having something nutritious on board, this post is not for you. I’d love to hear what you do though – can you send me some tips?

But, judging by some recent conversations I’ve had, it’s quite common to find ~

  • A child who won’t eat breakfast
  • A child who eats breakfast, but not a very healthy one
  • A child who eats very, very slowly
  • A child who is a moving target every morning so breakfast is a battle of wills and/or “catch”
  • A family where breakfast is a sibling battle ground

What to do?

Pick a time to have a chat about school morning breakfasts, maybe over a more leisurely meal on the weekend. When your family is not rushed and is feeling resourceful, ASK

~  WHY are the problems, well…problems?

Be prepared to take notes. Why is Alice not eating breakfast? Does she feel anxious, fat, rushed, not hungry?  Why is Brian mainlining sugar? How come Claire eats so s..l..o..w..l..y..? What does this get her? More attention? What’s with Eddie’s morning mischief – he runs laps around the kitchen grabbing bites of toast on each circuit — because? And yes, the twins bug one another 24/7, but could there be a school-morning-breakfast truce?

 ~  WHAT needs to happen?

Depends on the WHY.  Take the time to go kid by kid, issue by issue. Let’s take Alice. Can she talk to you about her mornings? Could be she simply isn’t a cereal girl and that’s what the family loves. But she’d eat toasted bagels and cream cheese. If she thinks she’s fat then a visit to a nutritionist to talk about weight loss might help. If she’s stressed about her school days, find out what’s going on at school and help her find some solutions.

~  WHOSE problem is it?

While I’m quick to encourage parents to let kids experience the natural consequences of their actions, there are some issues that need parental help. Our children’s behaviours are symptoms. A child who can get up and eat a healthy breakfast is demonstrating he or she is healthy by being symptom-free (in this one area at least!). A child who can’t get out of bed and won’t eat a nutritious breakfast is generating behavioural symptoms that may need attention.

 ~  HOW to make it better?

If you’re worried about your child not eating, or eating poorly, take charge. If you’ve brainstormed ways to help but the unhelpful or unhealthy behaviour persists, reach out to a doctor, nutritionist or family therapist. Not eating can be a sign of a number of “symptoms” that are better sorted sooner than later.


Breakfasts matter. Know your kid. Show you care.