Parenting an adopted child with food issues can get frustrating when the plate goes untouched or a lunchbox comes back in the afternoon uneaten. Kids can develop of hoarding food, under eating, overeating, or picky eating. Experts have advised that consistency, patience, and unconditional love, despite these upsets, are what can turn the tide.
What Do Food Issues Look Like
Most parents want to provide every possible joy and necessity to their adopted or fostered child. Parents may go out of their way to select foods and drinks that will nourish their child and even specifically chose items that cater to indulgence. Many try to provide healthy snacks and smaller portions of varying meals to try to entice consistent eating habits. But many times, a child can confuse emotional needs with nutritional ones and refuses to eat if they are emotionally upset.
Adoptions are mentally and emotionally taxing for various reasons. Children may lash out at the parent with hurtful comments about the way the food tastes. They can have outbursts at the table that seem to purposefully cause turmoil. Children can hoard food in their rooms or decide not to eat at all. So why does this happen -- and is it a parenting fault?
In the Beginning
All children are entirely dependent on an adult to provide them with nourishment. In most situations when a baby needs food, it will cry out in hunger and a parent will provide that child with milk or baby food. The baby feels happy and no longer has hunger pangs. This starts an important cycle of trust.
Unfortunately, some children were not afforded this most basic human interaction. Sometimes babies have cried for a long time before their needs are met; at worst, their hunger isn’t satiated for days. This can cause a child to learn at a very young age that they can only depend on themselves to obtain what is fundamentally needed to survive. This learned connection to food can sabotage a child subconsciously for years, even after being placed in a loving and providing home.
Let’s Make This Work
Parenting through food issues takes patience and understanding. Children often aren’t aware why they are choosing to use food to express their issues. Parents can make mealtime less stressful by consistently providing nutritional foods and refusing to enter into a power struggle about eating. Providing a snack option in place of a lunch may bridge that gap, allowing you to reach your child where they are.
Food should never be given as a reward or taken away as punishment. Your child should always know that food and drink will always be available to them. This is a parent’s opportunity to slowly but surely develop that trust that was missing in their child’s early life.