Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Time To Eat, Bunny!

It's been crazy the past few weeks.  I've literally put the kids to bed, did a couple of chores, and crawled into bed.  The only internet I've been doing has been periodically checking my e-mail through Beverly (my Kindle).  I have so many reviews backed up that it's ridiculous.

Hubby has been going to physical therapy in the evenings, which means I have less time to get chores done (try dragging two children and a bag full of laundry down to the on-site laundry room, yeah, I just wait until Hubs is home).  I also means less time with him and less time for myself.  Throw in that we started homeschool two weeks ago and HB starts away-from-home school tomorrow, and I'm just overwhelmed.  Then my desktop died and my crock pot along with it, and well, blogging or reading other blogs hasn't been happening either.

In case your wondering, the CSL (Child Study Lab) is four hours, two days a week.  Basically they have center-style activities and work with the kids on social behavior.  That leaves the rest of a five day week for me to do something with him.  So I bought a pre-made curriculum because I frankly have no time to devise one myself.  It's working out really great so far.  It's designed for three year olds and to be repeated for four year olds, but I've literally cut out all the stuff he can't sit still for or shows zero interest in and do the rest.  I'll discuss it later when we we've had a couple of months under our belt.

Book Review:  Time to Eat, Bunny!  by Brenda Ponnay

Time to Eat, Bunny! is a book written for children in hopes of helping them being picky eaters. The book is an e-book that I downloaded free to my Kindle (Beverely).  It features a little bunny (child) and a narrating parent who we don't really see.  The book begins with the parent calling Bunny to dinner and ends with him going to bed.  It teaches table manners among other things in a comical way.

Problems:  Oh, where to begin...Well let's use the basic page by page set-up.  I usually read my children's books before presenting the material to my own children because you never know what is being published and how that works for your particular family.

In this case, Ms. Ponnay's Bunny changes his/her dirty clothes into a dress-up outfit and comes to dinner.  Bunny's off-stage parent asks the Bunny to go change the outfit into "dinner attire."  Maybe Ms. Ponnay's Bunny is older and knows that bunnies usually wear normal clothes to dinner.  I'm inferring of course and have no idea.  But if my toddler showed up wearing a costume to the dinner table, I wouldn't care.  I've had my toddler wearing one of my dress shoes over his shoe in order to get him to come to Mass.  But that is me.  I'm not sure why Bunny can't wear his costume to dinner.

Then Ms. Ponnay portrays the dinner struggle.  "Bunny, you haven't touched your dinner."  flip page "No dessert until you eat your dinner, Bunny."  I about deleted the book right then and there.  I do plan on deleting the book for this very reason after writing the review.

I'm sure, my dear readers, that you have heard me say it often, but for Ms. Ponnay and her publishers I will obliging repeat myself.  Dessert is food.  If you make it into a reward, as Ms. Ponnay shows, you are setting up a hierarchy with food.  The only hierarchy there should be is that some foods are bad for you in large quantities (and in the case of transfat, which I discovered in my popcorn, not good at all) while other foods are good for you.  Once we get into this withholding foods pattern with our children we make food a reward instead of the occasional just-because dessert treat (or an everyday healthy dessert).

Food is about sustaining life.  Food these days has turned into eating disorders (mostly associated with body image), food addictions, and poor eating habits/food choices.

To avoid the power struggle at dinner time, the best thing to do is present the same food for everyone.  You can even plop it down on everyone's plate and leave it at that.  And the other part is to repeatedly serve up the same thing.  Just today my eldest ate turkey off his sandwich.  He never eats turkey, but I've been diligently making him turkey sandwiches, and he's been removing the turkey and eating the bread.   I've never told him that he couldn't have dessert afterwards.

And in case anyone cares, this is what the experts are saying to do too.  I'm happy to report that in my WIC packet the suggestions to help with picky eaters including presenting the same food multiple times.  No where did it say to withhold dessert, reward, or punish.  

But I kept flipping the page, hoping for something redeemable.  The next page says "Two bites, Bunny."  Oh, those dreaded words~  "Just try it."  "Go, on.  Take a bite."  I hate to tell Ms. Ponnay, but forcing a child to eat food is problematic.  We should be teaching our children to be independent, decision making persons.  And this starts off with their very first decisions which is to eat.  Lactation specialists will tell you that if they baby wants to eat, you feed them.  The concept is called "on-demand feeding."  But somewhere along the age of purees and other solid foods, we shove spoons in the baby's mouth and force them to eat junk they don't want to.

How about offering another healthy alternative to the food in question?  How about allowing the child to determine when he/she is hungry or not?  I mean several studies have already said that babies who were on-demand breastfed usually grow up to be healthy weight children.  Why is that?  Does it have something to do with the child's ability to think for him/herself about the amount of food and what type of food he/she needs to nourish his/her body?   

A parents job is to present a variety of nutritious foods to the child.  And that's where it ends.  It's the child's decision to eat certain foods and the amount.  When we over step this, we set our children up for a lifetime of really bad food decision making skills.

So I think Ms. Ponnay needs to rewrite her book and in the mean time, I encourage parents not to read this one to their child.

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