Boot Camp Journal – Day 7 {Imposed vs. Natural Consequences}

I’ve already posted once today!!  But I just have so much to say about this…

Saturday, July 5 (Part II)

I woke up this morning feeling a lot of anxiety about our second week of this Boot Camp.  Watching my kids (one in particular) be so hungry last week was really hard for me, and I can see by the stuff that I need to use up in our fridge, that this week may have some menu items that will be equally distressing.  (I say “may” because I actually haven’t even made the menus yet!!  I’m hoping to accomplish that today.)

Also, last night when I served the pasta salad I served everything separately for the kids, and then watched as they all filled up on plain noodles and white bread while only eating the tiniest 3 bites of everything else.  I had two thoughts about this:  one is that I don’t think I should have to separate a dish that is meant to be served mixed up, and second that if I had served it mixed up they would have left the table hungry for sure.

So, I talked to my husband about it this morning.  I said that if they are served a meal where they like very little of it, and choose to eat 3 bites then that is not enough food for them.  He agreed with me and said, “they need to eat more than 3 bites.”  But I really want to keep the rule (at least for the coming week), and let them choose whether or not they have more than that, and I explained this to him.  So we agreed then that they can choose, but they need to know if they don’t eat enough that they will be hungry.

At breakfast this morning (a meal everyone liked {I mean…mostly} — whole wheat banana pancakes, scrambled eggs, watermelon, and milk) I talked to them about the difference between imposed consequences and natural consequences.  They are smart kids, so they were able to give me the correct definitions of each of these when I asked them.  Basically, imposed consequences are ones that parents (or other adults) assign to an action.  They can be good or bad.  So for us the imposed consequence of eating at least 3 bites of every food all day long is dessert after dinner.  That’s the good side.  The bad side is that if they do not, they will not have the dessert.

However, our bodies need more than 3 bites and so even though they may meet the requirements to receive the dessert, they may not be eating enough to satisfy what their bodies need.  So we talked about what the natural consequences of not eating enough food are:  mainly hunger.  But then I said to them, “what if you eat enough food so that you do not feel hungry, but not enough of some foods your body really needs?  What is the natural consequence of that?”  Well, people who know more about this than I might be able to give more insights into this answer, but in our family we determined the consequences would be that the body can’t fight infection as well, and that you don’t feel as well as you could.  These are less noticeable to most people than the consequence of being hungry, but they still matter.

But for now, I am still planning to go along as we have been.  I’ll prepare some meals they like, but inevitably there will be some that they won’t want.  In that case we will have to let the imposed consequence of “no dessert” unless the requirements are met, and the natural consequence of “hunger” influence their decisions at the table.  But I feel better now that we’ve talked about it.

Oh yeah, as a side note…one child asked the question, “what if I do feel full after eating, but later I am hungry?”  I thought this was a good question and my husband’s and my answer was that they could have more of the same meal again.  (We usually have at least some leftovers).

 

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