Celebrating Thanksgiving

Beautiful African American woman and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Science of Parenting would like to offer you a few resources to assist you in creating a memorable holiday for your family. Many families celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing foods that are not only traditional but that are meaningful to members of the family. Recipes passed down through the generations and lovingly prepared by relatives who gather to celebrate with one another. May we suggest a review of our Iowa State University Spend Smart Eat Smart website for a whole host of recipes including videos to help you prepare for your meal.

When the house is full of family, friends and extra guests, children may feel overwhelmed. Keeping a schedule, familiar to the children, will help them manage the holiday expectations more smoothly. We do have a resource you might review, Managing Stress in Young Families.

Giving thanks for one another and for our gifts may be another family tradition . Showing appreciation to one another is one way we can model good thanksgiving habits! Calling someone by name, sending a greeting card of thanks, doing a favor for someone and simply doing what we say we will do are all ways of showing appreciation for one another.

This Thanksgiving, think of a way to give thanks on a daily basis! Who are the people in your life that you love and appreciate? Who are the people that cheer you on, encourage you to do your best, support and guide you through the rough patches? If you can begin to show appreciation to these folks, giving thanks will become a habit.

As a Science of Parenting Team, we thank you for interacting with us and wish you a wonderful holiday.

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Food decisions for picky eaters

This week we welcome guest blogger Renee Sweers.Renee is a mother of 4, grandmother of 3, a registered dietitian, and a Human Sciences Specialist in Nutrition and Wellness.

When my eight-year-old daughter said, “Please pass the melon.”  I nearly fell out of my chair! This was the girl that didn’t eat fruit, other than apples and plums!  I wouldn’t call her a picky eater, but when it came to fruit, she was.  Not only did she eat cantaloupe at that meal, but she slowly added more fruits to her diet and as an adult eats many different fruits.

I tell this incident for a few reasons:  1) Don’t stop offering foods just because a child doesn’t think they like them; you never know when they might give them a try.  Research tells us children may need to be offered a food 10 – 15 time before they will try it. 2)  Don’t bargain with children about eating.  If we had been forcing her to try melon over the years she may not have been willing to start eating it at age eight.  3)  Take heart!  A child who is picky may grow up to eat a wide variety of foods as an adult.

According to Ellyn Satter, a dietitian, family therapist and expert in feeding children, both adults and children have certain ‘responsibilities’ or ‘decisions’ when it comes to food.

Adult Decisions:

-What a child should eat:  Offer a variety of foods from all five food groups of MyPlate every day.  Be sure to offer at least one food at every meal that the child likes

-When and Where a child should eat:  Offer meals at regular times each day.  Offer snacks equally spaced between meals.  Eat with the child at a table and turn off the TV and other distractions.

Child Decisions:

-How much to eat and which foods to eat. Don’t bribe a child to eat.  Don’t require one bite.  Respect them when they say they are full.

-Whether or not to eat.  Occasionally a child doesn’t want to eat.  It is fine to require them to ‘sit at the table with the family’, just don’t force them to eat.

When children are allowed to make their eating decisions and adults focus on their decisions (and not the child’s) then adults are providing structure, support and opportunities for healthy eating.  Children are allowed to choose what and how much to eat from the foods the adult has provided.

Try these strategies to make mealtimes more fun and less struggle.



Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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