The Division of Responsibility

The Division of Responsibility


Last week’s post introduced Ellyn Satter’s concept of eating competency, where children learn to trust their innate hunger and fullness cues, eat what the family is eating, and enjoy a wide variety of foods. Ironically, eating competency does not stem from changing children’s behavior… it’s the parents who have the most to learn! This week, we’ll take a closer look at Satter’s model and discuss the step-by-step process of developing eating competency (parents, you just might learn something about your own eating habits in the process).

Instead of mealtimes being a battle between parents and children, they should ideally resemble a choreographed dance. Parents and children both have roles to play, and once those roles are understood, children can tap into their natural eating abilities and mealtimes can actually become enjoyable! These roles are known as the Division of Responsibility (DoR). From the time a child is born to when he or she reaches adolescence, a child’s job is eating: deciding how much to eat, if at all. Parents are responsible for feeding: providing food at certain times and places. That is the DoR, in its simplest form. Sounds simple, right? Let’s break it down.

Parent’s Feeding Responsibilities

The most important job of a parent is to provide healthy foods at regular intervals, and to trust their child’s ability to determine the amount that’s right for him or her. Parents need to decide:

1. Types of food served

2. When food is served

3. Where food is served

Child’s Eating Responsibilities (Infants and Weaning)

All babies are born with an innate ability to regulate their food intake. Children will eat, and will eat the amount that’s right for their bodies at different stages of development. Sometimes this means not eating at a meal!  During weaning, parents should pay attention to child’s eating ability, rather than age, when deciding what foods to provide. Parents guide the transition from soft and lumpy foods, to semi-solid foods, to finger foods

1. How much to eat

2. Whether to eat at all

Child’s Eating Responsibilities (Toddlers through Adolescents)

1. How much to eat

2. Whether to eat at all

Applying the DoR takes practice and patience. Many adults have lost the ability to eat mindfully based on hunger and fullness cues, and it can be challenging to trust that children can do this naturally. Next week’s post will explore these responsibilities even further, complete with tips for mastering eating competency at every age.

 

Sources:

http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/cms-assets/documents/203702-180136.dor-2015-2.pdf