How would you feel if people were pushing you to eat more? You probably would not feel like eating, even if you were hungry.
A simple example of family projection is the parent who pushes food on a child, causing the child to reject the manipulation and the food. Pressuring a child to eat results in the child responding to manipulation rather than to actual hunger.
Children go through phases of eating a lot and not eating very much. They tend to eat what they need, as long as you provide healthy meals at regular mealtimes, and don’t show excessive interest in how much they eat and in how they look. If there is an eating disorder, however, then it’s best to get professional help.
Generally, though, a parent who offers food only once, and does not get controlling or emotionally involved in what the child eats, will find that the child will eat when he or she is hungry — unless the food is ice cream!
As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD