How is a feeding problem like an ogre?

In the wise words of Shrek, “Ogres are like onions. They have layers.” I’ve never met a feeding problem that didn’t also have layers… at least as many layers as an onion! And as we begin to peel away the layers we often discover some early events that may have been forgotten or brushed off as “no big deal”. How those events were responded to, usually out of great compassion and a desire to do the right thing, may have actually gotten you stuck in what I like to call a Slippery Cycle.

How Aspects of Feeding Problems Can Grow and Persist

A slippery cycle occurs when your reaction to an event results in an effect that causes that event to happen more often or in a more dramatic way in the future.

Let me break this down using a common example that I discuss with parents in feeding therapy: too much milk. In this example, the initiating event is a toddler not eating “enough” at one or a few meals. Maybe the little one wasn’t very hungry or maybe he was cutting a tooth or just didn’t love what was being offered. The reaction was that mom (or dad or grandma), who is concerned about nutrition and growth, gave greater access to delicious, easy to consume, filling milk between meals. And the result is that our toddler isn’t very hungry the next time he comes to the table. He also knows that if the food being offered isn’t his favorite he can fill up on milk later. Almost before you know it we can have a little one drinking large amounts of milk and eating a shrinking variety of foods AND parents who are afraid to cut back on the milk because it’s now perceived as one of the only sources of nutrition. I call this a slippery cycle because it’s so easy to slip into and also hard to get your footing and walk out of. Slippery cycles are common in many aspects of parenting (and life in general) and I’ll be featuring more of those common to feeding as we go along. Getting stuck in one doesn’t mean you’ve done a bad job! You might just need someone to give you a hand with getting out.

Have you gotten caught in any Slippery Cycles that have to do with feeding or something else? I’d love to hear how you got out or be that helping hand you need! Just leave a comment below.