Positive Food for Kids

The role-model aspect of parenting is a biggy!

How you work, keep fit, interact with your partner or husband, manners and the respect you show others is the first road map of life - your kids will learn to follow.

Even what you eat and how you guide their daily food consumption, will play a direct role on how they develop their eating habits - for the rest of their lives!

Positive Food for Kids a book by dietician and nutritionist Dr Jenny O'Dea gets straight to the point by isolating four types of food parenting styles which directing influence children's eating habits.

Which one are you?


Do you make virtually all the decisions about what, when, where and how your children eat? You may have regular dishes on regular days and a well-planned routine. There is no negotiation with the children. This type of parent is completely in control of their children's food habits and they rule with an iron fist.

Laissez Faire

Do you put little energy into planning food, beyond the weekly shopping trip? You may not even use a shopping list, but you do take advantage of discounts and specials. You probably don't work to weekly planned menus and you serve whatever is in the house. Last minute preparation is OK with you, but you do put regular meals on the table each night and the children never go hungry.


Do you usually ask your kids what they would like to eat and involve them in breakfast, school lunch and dinner ideas or meals.
Do you let your kids fix foods and snacks for themselves and never force them to eat what they don't want to. You may even prepare separate meals for the kids and adults in the house. You probably let your kids choose items from the supermarket shelves and give them money to select their own school lunches from the canteen.

Ad Hoc

If your food parenting style is largely random and chaotic - this is you! You allow the events of each day to determine what the children eat and where and when it is eaten. Grocery shopping is fitted in whenever possible and probably without a shopping list. You take advantage of prepared and take-away foods and may have little recollection of what your children have consumed over a 24-hour period.

According to Dr O'Dea each style has its positives and negatives:

Extreme Autocratic parenting disallows children from making their own decisions about food. In experiments, children tended to overeat or crave forbidden foods resulting in secret eating, hiding foods and binge eating.

Laissez Faire parents leave too much to chance, which can result in poor food intake unless the house is permanently stocked with a good supply of healthy foods and drinks.

Democratic parented kids tend to "graze" on frequent snacks and drinks of their choice. Too much choice allows for poor food selection and over-eating.

Ad Hoc parents - surprise, surprise this can work, BUT only is there is a healthy food choice and parents have access to health take-away and packaged foods. Research shows that the major selling items on take-away menus are not healthy, so Ad-Hoc parents need to read up on more healthy alternatives.

However parents do need to remain in control of children's eating habits to establish and maintain healthy eating habits.

Research shows that children cannot make rational, healthy decisions about choosing the right food. However they can make the decision of how much as this allows them to learn how to monitor and regulate their own food intake. Too much parental control prevents children from learning when to stop and not overeat. Allowing your child to decide when to stop eating is a VIP step in helping them to be in touch with their bodily needs for food, drinks and calories. It will also, eventually, help them to control their weight.

Bottom line - YOU must decide what is going to be eaten as well as where and when it is eaten. The kids get to decide how much is eaten. This division around food is now considered to be the best way to feed children.