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Healthy Eating for Kids: The Division of Responsibility in Feeding Kids

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Have you heard about the Division of Responsibility in Feeding but don’t know what it is, why you should do it, or afraid it sounds too overwhelming? Let me break it down for you!

All of my articles on feeding kids can be found here and if you want a FULL list of all of the videos I have with hacks, tips, scripts, and ideas for feeding kids, check out my instagram or tiktok page.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What is the Division of Responsibility?

Let’s start with the division of responsibility. This approach was designed by the Ellyn Satter Institute. Satter is a registered dietitian and family therapist that I’ve followed for years, whose mission is to “help adults and children be joyful and confident with eating.” Her method is that the parent/caretaker role is responsible for the whatwhenwhere aspect of the meal and the child is responsible for the how much and whether to eat the foods offered.

Ok, let’s soak that in. YOU decide what goes on the plate, when it’s meal times and where meals will be eaten. 

CHILD decides what to eat and how much to eat. 

The Benefits of using the Division of Responsibility in Feeding

If this sounds too simple – it is! But it’s also not. The hard part is to relinquish control and just let them decide. If you spend meal times trying to convince your kids to eat certain foods and telling them that they should be eating certain foods this will be very hard to do at first! But eventually, you’ll get in the habit. And the immediate benefit? Meal times will be infinitely less-stressful!

Why is this important? This method allows children to listen to their own bodies. We are born with the innate skill of giving our body what it needs. Eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re not. Over time, we lose this and if you’ve tried to get back into mindful eating yourself, you know that it’s really hard to gain this back. Trust that they can do this for themselves!

When to start the Division of Responsibility?

How to transition to using the Division of Responsibility

Seeing the value of the DoR, but wondering if it’s too late? NOPE!

Here’s how you can transition with your family:

@myeverydaytable

Answer to @marg_oh_ess Three steps you need to take to transition to the Division of Responsibility. #feedingkids #feedinglittles #momtok #parent

♬ original sound – Emily

Division of Responsibility Script

Here’s what you can say when your child says, “I don’t want that, I don’t like that!”

First of all, you definitely need to expect this to happen. And I

Example: Say we’re having something I know my kids won’t be SUPER excited about. (Why do I do this? Because it’s exposing them to new and different flavors, this is important!)

I serve the components separately, so they can choose what to eat AND I serve them something I KNOW they will eat, so that they won’t be hungry. The point isn’t to punish, or have them go hungry. The point is that

The rest is up to them. Once your family gets into the swing of the same meal, the meal time requests + drama becomes nonexistent.

Here’s how I handled this Caesar pasta salad with salmon:

caesar salad with pasta in a bowl

Eden: “I don’t want lettuce.”
Me: “You decide what to eat off of your plate.”

DONE!

Watch a video with this script:

How to get family members to support the Division of Responsibility?

The hardest part of the Division of Responsibility?

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