You will continue to hear me mention Ellyn Satter’s name throughout my blog and if you have met with me for a private consultation, you have probably been given a sheet on her Division of Responsibility. I have listed it here from Ellyn Satter’s website:
The Division of Responsibility for toddlers through adolescents
• The parent is responsible for what, when, and where.
• The child is responsible for how much and whether.
Fundamental to parents’ jobs is trusting children to determine how much and whether to eat from what parents provide. When parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating:
Parents’ feeding jobs:
• Choose and prepare the food.
• Provide regular meals and snacks.
• Make eating times pleasant.
• Step-by-step, show children by example how to behave at family mealtime.
• Be considerate of children’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes.
• Not let children have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times.
• Let children grow up to get bodies that are right for them.
Children’s eating jobs:
• Children will eat.
• They will eat the amount they need.
• They will learn to eat the food their parents eat.
• They will grow predictably.
• They will learn to behave well at mealtime.
My journey with sDOR started before I had kids and was working in pediatrics at a large hospital. One of the educational materials our department used was a sheet on sDOR. I thought it was great and made a lot of sense. This idea that it is the parent’s job to provide food in a timely manner and the child’s job is to eat was easy to teach. Then I had kids of my own and…I thought this is a bunch of baloney.
My first child ate well but did not always want to eat what my husband and I had each night for dinner. I started offering her more “kid” friendly foods at meals while my husband and I ate something different. Then my second child came along and by then my first was eating better and more variety so my second did not get as much catering. Then when my third came along, things got tricky again. By this point though, I had seen the benefits from sDOR with my first and second child who were open to trying new foods. My youngest child had some struggles with feeding including a dairy intolerance. I continued to work in the parameters of sDOR but adjusted my meals to offer dairy and non dairy options along with foods everyone could try. I offered deconstructed meals and served meals family style. My son is now able to tolerate dairy and eats a wide variety of foods. He is still pickier than his sisters but just this past year he “snuck up” on lentil soup, creamed spinach, hamburgers and broccoli cheese soup. These are foods that my son had seen and been offered since he was two. He is now almost 8 years old. I am thrilled that he is eating these foods and I know it is because we followed sDOR for all these years.