Imagine going into your child’s bedroom and finding candy wrappers and scraps of food. Garbage is hidden under their bed, behind their dresser, in their closet, or any other hiding place. Or recently stocking up on groceries to later find snacks missing from the pantry. Your child may also struggle with eating too quickly or get easily upset surrounding food. You may start to feel frustration as this continues to happen.
Unfortunately, your child may have past trauma surrounding food. For example, in their early childhood food may have been withheld, or they may have lived in an environment where food was scarce. Knowing how to respond to food insecurity behaviors can be beneficial to help your child develop a healthy relationship with food.
I have provided some different ideas and suggestions on how to help your child with their food insecurity. I want to note that it is very important to not blame your child for their food insecurity behaviors, as it is their way of survival. It will take time to help your child feel safe with food.
- Put together a “yes basket” or a “food basket” filled with healthy snacks that children can grab whenever they may feel hungry, or just need to be able to see food. Providing your child with a food basket can help them understand that food will always be available. You can also create a food basket in the refrigerator for cold foods. It is essential to understand that the basket you create, you cannot say no to. Pick items that you feel good about giving your children at all hours of the day – morning, afternoon, night, or even right before supper.
- Eat meals together. Eating meals together can help children develop a better relationship and attachment with food. This can also help model appropriate eating skills, such as slowing down or using utensils. Another benefit of eating meals together is that it may strengthen their bond and attachment with you as their caregiver.
- Work with a trained therapist. Working with a therapist can help with addressing the underlying cause of the food insecurity, whether that may be trauma or a major life change.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW