Have You Finished Your Candy?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Reverse Psychology Picture Book


How many of us can empathize with frustrated Mama Pea who can’t get her Little Pea to finish his dinner before he has dessert? I became a fan of Amy K. Rosenthal recently, and was happy to find her humorous take on mealtime battles at our library.


Dinner Distractions



There are any number of reasons B claims to be finished with dinner before he’s had much of a meal: others getting up from the table, a visitor’s arrival, a toy or activity calling his name, hopes for a few more baskets to score before the sun goes down, or the prospect of a tempting dessert on the horizon. We’ve never tried to enforce a “clean-plate” policy because we want B to respond to his own cues for hunger and fullness, and in general he is a healthy and adventurous eater. If he wants to give up on his meal before it seems like he’s eaten a healthy amount, I’ll usually keep it aside and see if he’s hungry again in a short time. When there is a treat ahead, I may give him a minimum to finish to be “strong and healthy” before he gets the goodies. That’s when I find myself sounding like Mama Pea.


Making the Frustrating Funny
Little Pea
Little Pea is the story of a young pea who enjoys many activities with his parents but does not enjoy dinner: candy. Mama Pea issues an edict – he must eat five pieces. Each bite is accompanied by a exclamation such as, “Blech!” The first time we read it, B was a little incredulous that anyone, even a pea, could dislike eating candy for dinner. What scrumptious treat does Little Pea receive after finishing his five bites? Tasty spinach! Yum! Did B close the book and ask for a bowl of spinach? No, but I appreciated the cognitive dissonance it created for him. It gave us a chance to talk about both what’s healthy for our bodies and why it’s important to listen to mom and dad’s directions. Amy K. has two other satirical stories: Little Hoot (an owl who won’t stay up late) and Little Oink (a pig who won’t get dirty). We’ve already put in our requests for those at the library.


Appropriate for: Toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.


Linking up with: Feed Me Books Friday at Gretchen Reads 24/7

2 comments:

Raising a Happy Child July 30, 2010 at 7:04 AM  

We had a lot of battles with this as well and some heated debates with my husband on how not to turn mealtime into a power struggle. Now the rule is that Anna has to eat everything that she voluntarily put on her plate and most of what she "ordered". In other cases (she is trying something new or the plate is filled by someone else, like in the restaurants) it's up to her to decide how much and what she will eat.
We enjoyed Little Hoot, but overall I feel that the humor is designed more for parents than for children. Anna worked pretty hard trying to "decode" the meaning of the story - she is at the stage where she takes everything literally.

Gretchen July 30, 2010 at 8:48 AM  

I remember when that Little Pea book came out -- very cute. I will have to keep those in mind for Sus in a couple years. The others sound good too. :) I like what you were saying about getting him to think about his own thinking. . . great stuff!

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