Division of Responsibility; quickest way to peaceful mealtimes

April 28, 2020

Feeding kids can be a challenge. How would you feel if I told you I can help create more peace during mealtimes? How would you feel if I told you I can take the stress out of mealtimes> If I told you I could help avoid the daily throw down matches over how many bites and which foods to try? How would you feel if you were let off the hook? 

Enter the division of responsibility. The first time I heard this (before I had kids) I was in awe. Duh, that’s so simple, so straight forward and honestly quite obvious. But this is not how most people are raised.

The Division of Responsibility (Ellyn Satter Institute) separates the responsibilities during mealtime.

As the parent you’re in charge of what, when and where your child eats. You then trust that your child can decide how much of and whether they eat the food presented. 

Now if your child is still a baby then this can be easy to implement now. If you already have a toddler or child who is used to you telling them how many bites to take or each foods, or what their plate should look like at the end of mealtime you might have some work to do. And that’s totally ok.

You love your child – I know! You want the best for them, you want them to grow and to thrive! I totally get it but I also suspect you want your child to be self-sufficient and in tune with their own specific needs. I bet you also want your kid to grow up and avoid any disordered eating habits they might bring from their childhood.

Now I can hear some of you already; “but you don’t know my kid, he wouldn’t eat if I didn’t count his bites”, “sounds easy but what if they don’t eat”, “what if they overeat and put on too much weight too quickly” so many thoughts around food and mealtimes with kiddos.

At the end of the day babies and toddlers are born to be intuitive eaters. They have no learned behaviors that cause voices to tell them what or how much they “should” eat.

They just eat.

Now I get it, I’ve even gone down the rabbit hole of “two more bites please” but don’t fall for that trap. The truth is some days your child may only need a small portion of their meal whereas another day they may eat two helpings, or 4 bananas in one sitting (real story of my son). 

Trust your child to eat what they need, they will grow, they will regulate and they will thrive!!! Not to mention, they will grow up without food rules which haunt them later in life. 

So start now. Hang the division of responsibility on your fridge if you need a reminder. I’ve created a free printable for you right here and in the show notes of my podcast. Then when you’re frustrated or feel something about to come out your mouth you can ask yourself if the division of responsibility would support it or not.

Let me know what other questions you have about this and I would be happy to answer! Until next time mamas!  

© 2020, Mama and Me RD