Message from the Executive Director

Perspective(9) "The Relationship Between Eating and Communication"

 Eating is a fundamental life habit for humans to live. I believe guardians hope for their child to enjoy meals and grow up physically and mentally healthy.

 However, worrying things may appear when they are growing up, such as a light eating, picky eating, and irregular eating. When faced with this difficult situation, if you force the child to eat, they can either refuse or end up throwing up. How can we think about this case?

 Let’s consider the relationship between eating and communication.

 The conduct of “eating” consists of a series of actions; looking at the food, evaluating it, smelling it, putting it in the mouth, biting it, tasting it, swallowing it, digesting it, and absorbing the nutrition (excretion), etc. Now, how are eating and communication related? Both things are seemingly unrelated, but actually have a deep connection.

 In the way the idiom states that “X offers mental and spiritual sustenance", the way a child eats illustrates on a psychological basis how they are reacting to the words or approaches of the people around them. There is important information in various expressions: Chewing = considering meaning, tasting = feeling, swallowing = believing in everything out of faith, digesting = understanding well, not being able to swallow = disagreement, and throwing up = talking about feelings.

 The child’s interest in the meal served by adults and the pleasure they derive from it, shows that they have a foundation of trust and acceptance of words and approaches. In fact, when a child in their everyday interactions starts to show attachment, expresses their demands to nearby adults (a mother, staff, etc.) and enjoys communicating with others, positive changes definitely appear in their eating: Having an appetite, showing an interest in the food other people are eating, eating calmly and expanding their interests in food.

 But then again, if we approach them in a way they don’t fully understand, forcing them to eat to remedy picky eating, limiting their food arbitrarily, or hiding food, this can create a sense of distrust and they may end up turning their back, not listening or ignoring adults, leading to excessive stress, or refusal to do things. As a result, their trust in others and self-esteem deteriorates. Therefore, we should look at not only improving their eating habits but also the entirety of their life, and obtain communication while respecting their will, approaching their interests, gaining their trust and offering a sense of safety.

  When faced with difficulties, please stand in the child’s shoes and think about things.

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