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Trust Model of Feeding: 8 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Missing

Learn about the trust model of feeding and the signs it’s missing in your parenting approach.

One of the anchors of positive feeding is a belief that your child can regulate his eating. In other words, you trust that he knows how much to eat, what to eat, and when to stop.

This, my friends, is what is called the trust model of feeding.

For some parents, this level of trust around food and feeding is a leap of faith.

trust-based feeding approach

Why Trust with Feeding is Essential

Trust doesn’t come easily—in fact it can be hard-won, especially when it comes to feeding your child. But, trust is essential if you want to raise a healthy eater and a child who is able to self-regulate and enjoy eating.

The reality? You worry, doubt, and worry some more.

You may even find yourself not trusting your child around food.

Not trusting your child to eat enough.

Or not trusting your child to stop eating when he’s full.

The tracks of mistrust are laid early on when blind faith is called upon in those first days of life, when you start nursing or bottle-feeding your infant.

A nagging question and doubt: Did my baby get enough to eat?

This doubt may persist into childhood and even into the teen years.

Worry About Eating Alters Feeding Children

Too much worry can change the way you relate to your child when it comes to food.

Worry and low trust may interfere with the parent-child connection. This can lead to less enjoyment of eating, and may even cause you to make some honest mistakes in your feeding approach.

Trusting a child to eat enough, and make good decisions about food does take a bit of faith and some perspective.

Of course, kids are going to eat well and eat poorly throughout the course of childhood.

When they eat poorly it doesn’t mean they will eat this way forever, and the same is true if they are good eaters.

What is true is that kids are learning and adapting as they grow.

Worry and doubt can erode trust, and that may interfere with the development of your child’s healthy eating patterns.

Worry and doubt can erode trust, interfering with the development of your child’s healthy eating patterns. Click To Tweet

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8 Signs You’re Missing Trust in Feeding Your Child

1. You tightly control food

If you’re too focused on limiting portion sizes, second helpings, and calorie content, or find yourself eliminating sweets or junk food to an extreme (ie, they aren’t allowed at all) you may be driving your child to eat these foods.

Or, become overly focused on them.

While this is done with good intentions– in the name of preventing weight gain or unhealthy eating or some other negative nutritional problem—if it screams control or restriction, it’s a sign you have little faith in your child around these foods.

Look for ways you can build moderation and trust around food. 

2. You plate your child’s meals

In the early years when kids cannot serve themselves very well, plating food is the norm.

However, if you’re still plating your school-age child’s food with the intention of keeping a cap on eating, you may be exhibiting mistrust in your child’s ability to eat the right amounts of food.

If you’re doing it because you’re afraid he won’t eat enough or will eat too much, you may want to rethink. 

3. You worry about your child’s weight (even if it’s normal).

This can stem from a past history with your own weight troubles. Remember, your child isn’t you, and he has a clean slate.

Your worry can change the way you feed your child, and not typically for the better. 

4. You worry about your child’s reaction to food

Maybe it’s the overeating at parties, constant questions about food, or asking for more food after just eating.

Kids can nag and be frustrating, but if you find yourself overly wrapped up in your child’s behavior around food, you may need to step back.

Kids are natural in their exuberance and interest in food, especially the stuff they like, such as sweets and junky food.

Just because your child has food-oriented behaviors doesn’t mean he will have issues with regulating his eating.

Mostly, this stuff is normal behavior, or it’s a sign that you need to fine-tune your feeding.

5. You blame {or label} your child

Blaming or labeling a child for her eating performance rarely turns out well.

Try to stay positive and use positive strategies to help your child grow into the balanced eater you want him to be.

6. You shy away from talking about nutrition

Maybe you don’t feel qualified to guide your child, or perhaps you don’t want to tip the apple cart, for fear of hurting your child, labeling him, or spurring on disordered eating.

The reality is, positive, age-appropriate dialogue about nutrition gives your child the foundation for relating to food, helps guide food choices, and can build productive food (and body) attitudes.

7. You fail to see the norms of childhood growth

Worry about the little things that are typical in a child’s growth and development can lead to mistrust and negative feeding.

For example, certain events are pretty typical in childhood: more eating during a growth spurt, weight gain before puberty, excitement about dessert, or picky eating during the toddler years.

Don’t spend time worrying too much about these normal, expected events!

If you’re not sure what they are, check out my book, Fearless Feeding.

8. You don’t have a long-term perspective

You focus on which yogurt has the least amount of sugar rather than a plan for helping your child regulate his sugar intake day after day.

Or, you are so taken with what is eaten today, you miss out on the big picture—the relationship your child is developing with food.

If you don’t have a long-range goal, and a strategy for getting there, you may become more worried and mistrustful.

Does any of this sound familiar? We all grow as parents, and some of us need to develop better feeding skills and food parenting.

Where are you getting tripped up with the trust model of feeding? 


Need More Help with Feeding? 

Check out our nutrition booklets, workshops and classes on nutrition for kids and feeding them.

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