A Thanksgiving challenge

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Two of my nephews pull the meat off the Thanksgiving Day centerpiece. Chores develop resiliency, responsibility and self-esteem.

With Thanksgiving coming, parents can try something new with cornucopia of unfamiliar foods.

I challenge parents to:

1. NOT prepare special foods for children’s Thanksgiving meal, no matter how “picky” they are. Special foods creates entitlement and reinforce pickiness. It’s too much work . You are not their servants! They can learn to be adventuresome.

2. Say NOTHING and I mean NOTHING about the foods that are served. Invite children and teens to “Try it.”

3. Treat their inquiries, hesitations or quiet rejections to the food like a dead tennis ball. Act like your children are talking about different kinds of leaves falling from  trees. It takes three days to die of dehydration and three weeks to die of hunger.

For one day, I challenge you to subdue the natural desire to monitor their food except to moderate their consumption of chips, high-fructose syrup drinks and dessert. If they are still hungry after Thanksgiving dinner, allow them to solve the problem when you get home.

At family meals in the next few days, emphasize manners. At my house we ask, “What would Grandma say about the way you’re slurping that soup?” Ask your children how they should act at Thanksgiving dinner. They know.

Impress upon them how to be a good guest. Good guests never yell, “Yuck!” when a food is offered. They politely say, “No thank you.” Good guests take moderate amounts of special treats. Do not allow them to gobble up all of the shrimp or other treats.

The root of discipline is “disciple” which is Greek for “student.” Our children are our students. We are their first teachers. Your children and your Thanksgiving dinner hosts will appreciate well-mannered youngsters. You will enjoy the day more if they are prepared on how to act and you haven’t prepared special foods (unless your child has a medical condition).

Children respond to our expectations — verbal and non-verbal. Practice being an actor. When we change our behavior and expectations, children and teenagers will make other choices. The older the child, the longer the re-training takes. Parents must be stalwart when setting new expectations. You can do it!

I look forward to hearing comments on parents who use this strategy.

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2 Comments on “A Thanksgiving challenge”


  1. What sensible advice! In my experience, most children are better behaved when away from home. This is especially true with a bit of coaching before the event, just as you suggest.


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