Thursday, April 1, 2010

Setting the Bar

Wow, first off, isn't food/feeding our child(ren) an interesting topic? I was surprised by how many (and how diverse!) the responses were. I really appreciate everyones' input, though it still has me feeling about the same - confuse! I would read one comment and nod in agreement, only to find that I agreed with the next comment, too!

One comment that completely struck a chord for me was from one of my favorite bloggers, Tracy. She mentioned setting high standards for her toddlers and how surprising it is that they rise to the occasion.

I 100% agree with her in that setting high standards tends to result in better performance. Will surprises me on a daily basis with things that he understands/does/knows how to do. It actually shocks me sometimes how much this kid has retained. For example, we pulled up outside of Fred Meyer on Sunday, a store I usually don't go to. The last time we were there (three weeks ago), was for him to get his hair cut at the place next door. So, as we pulled into the parking lot, he started saying, "Hair cut! Hair cut!" Both M and I couldn't believe that he remembered that.

When I posted on family meal times, many people commented that making a toddler sit at the table was expecting too much, I started thinking about it and thought, "Yeah, that is a lot to expect a toddler to do." Strangely enough, 98% of the time, Will sits through an entire meal without incident, simply because those were my expectations of him. We started sitting him at the table with us before he could even sit up (in his bouncer) and moved him to the high chair when he was able to sit up on his own (even before he started solids). Meal times were something that were very important to me prior to even having a baby, so I guess my expectations were high. . . and, most of the times, he does just fine.

Conversely, I also realized that I need to recognize my standards might sometimes be too high and when that happens, I need to be flexible. I have now started giving him his color crayons and paper when he is "all done" with meals and it has made a world of difference on those times when he doesn't want to sit happily while M and I eat.

You see, my mom was a perfectionist mom, the type that always set the highest expectations. I clearly remember when I was in second grade, running home to tell her that I had scored the highest in the class on a spelling exam - 98%! Her response? "Why did you miss any? You knew all of those words?" Instantly, my excitement and pride were deflated. I no longer celebrated my victory in having an A grade, but rather started beating myself over missing the word (though I will never forget how to spell the word among again). While it did cause me to strive to excel, it also caused me to be over-anxious and very concerned about being perfect.

I know my mom meant well and just wanted me to do my best, but I just want to be very clear it the messages that I send to Will. I have very high expectations of him (and that will never change), but I want to make sure that they are reasonable and in tune with what he needs. I never want to deflate his ego or make him feel badly for doing his best.

Parenthood is such a fine line to walk. There are minefields and pitfalls at every step. One of the reasons that I am so thankful for my blog is that you and your wonderful advice are
all just a comment away. Thank you for taking the time to walk this journey with me.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on having high expectations, mainly in terms of behavior. G and I try really hard to keep Lemy on line and behaving at home so that in public we won't have to do a whole lot of disciplining her. So far it's worked. :)

And we also have her sit at the table with us to eat and now there are nights when it takes her longer to eat than it takes us just bc she's taking her time and enjoying it. Toddler can sit through dinner, you just have to be creative!

Tracy said...

Oh, Katie, I think you'll walk the line just fine. Just you being aware of it will make a world of difference. And I agree; I really try to remember to walk the line, and when they are "just being toddlers", LET THEM. :)

HereWeGoAJen said...

I try to have Elizabeth eat with us for the entire meal too, but I let her down when she gets too far. I figure that she'll stretch out in her attention span as she gets older. But, like Will, she makes the full meal most nights.

My parents were the same with the 98%. I brought that up to my mom once and she said that she did it because she felt like her parents never encouraged her or expected much of her. So we are all battling our pasts.

PamalaLauren said...

What's really cool, is we can make "mistakes" and test the waters and the kids won't know any different. It's a learning process for not only us but for them. And since no child is the same, you kind of just take what others advise to you and then see if it can work in your situation.

For me having my daughter eat at the table is totally opposite of what we did as kids. I don't even think we owned a eat at table (we had a fancy table for thanksgiving). We just ate in front of the TV.

There are days were we do not eat at the table and just sit in front of the the TV (usually on left over night) and I've found she doesn't eat as well those days. So once I move out of my mom's house here at the end of the month, I'm going to keep up the eating at the table routine. Especially since for my daughter eating is important to keeping her blood sugar in check.

She's 4 in June and has only recently started sitting the whole meal with us, although there are still days where she gets bored and wants down but she asks nicely and we let her down and she'll play with her toys next to the table.

Debby said...

totally agree on the meals together! it's my fav part of our day, and G has to sit there with us too. He does well for the most part...then we occasionally have a baaad night. But we work through it and i think consistency in my part makes for a better behaved mealtime buddy for future. Keep it up!

Jericho said...

You're doing just fine! There is no "perfect" method to any aspect of parenting. Someday YOU will be able to write a book--most of us could!

Joy said...

I'm glad you found what works for your family- giving him some crayons to color while you two finish up your dinners.

I'm sorry your mother put so much pressure on you. I suppose that is why it is good to back off in many areas of parenthood and "choose your battles" as I often hear. I have a hard time not being a helicopter parent. I want my kids to flourish as little individuals but know that Mommy's hand is nearby in case they need to reach back and take it.