Breaking Mealtime Rules and Mirror Neurons by Richard Kahn, M.S., Registered Dietitian, Brooklyn LettersThere s a practical feeding rule for parents and children: Keep meals to 20 to 30 minutes. Most meals take about that amount of time. If meals are a difficult time of day at your house, 20 to 30 minutes is enough discomfort for parents and children. There is also a time to break the 20/30 rule. The reason for breaking the rule come from the relatively recent discovery of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons explain how we learn by copying without conscious cognition. The specialized nerves use the eye to bypass the word-driven teaching style we picked up in school and continues into adult play and work. Mirror neurons help the preverbal infant learn by watching. If you and another adult are enjoying a postprandial chat, stay at table so your child can see a great part of life. A good book on the neurons is The Empathic Brain by Christian Keyes, a mirror neuron researcher and an award winning science writer. The book inspired me to rethink how one case succeeded.

Mirror neurons explain how children learn from copying physical gestures and the emotions that accompany them. One mom recently told me how fast her toddler learned the Frisbee postures and throwing gestures by watching some teenagers. Famed child psychoanalyst Theodore Gaensbauer thinks that mirror neurons explain how infants as young as three months integrate profound emotions and the movements associated with the emotions. The take home message: Enjoy your their meals together with their child as soon as their child is born. That way, children tacitly learn the pleasures of the table through modeling. The specialized nerves also pick up verbal and written cues, too. This posting focuses on how parents informed patience helps difficult eaters get on track. In many cases, actions at the table speak louder than words as happened in the following case.

Me llamaron para evaluar a las gemelas de 12 meses recientemente adoptadas de un orfanato extranjero. Sus nutrientes provienen solo de botellas. Cuando se les present? comida, no ten?an idea de qu? era o qu? hacer con ella. En ese momento, muchos orfanatos extranjeros solo alimentaban con biber?n a ni?os peque?os. Las chicas, deduje, se perdieron el tiempo de la mesa asociado con la transici?n a los s?lidos entre 6 y 12 meses. De lo contrario, las chicas parec?an receptivas y en forma. Cuando termin? la evaluaci?n, los padres me preguntaron qu? hacer. Suger? que la familia deber?a comer con los gemelos presentes. En otras palabras, simplemente modelo de comer.

Esperar es dif?cil. Por eso la paciencia es una virtud. El deseo de actuar tienta al padre y al profesional. La capacitaci?n ayuda al profesional a contenerse. Cuando el padre o el terapeuta se detienen con paciencia informada, el ni?o pasa a la arena del descubrimiento. La paciencia informada, a veces llamada inacci?n estudiada, es la fe en la capacidad esencial del ni?o.

After working with other therapists, the family contacted me. We worked on modeling and holding back. Sessions usually took the form of coached meals. From the outside, we just talked about nutrition, parenting during mealtimes and other topics. Internally, the parents were kept focused on the conversation and food until they got it. That is, parents and I chatted and ate. In this way, the urging, talking and worry the child experiences as stressful meals is kept to a minimum. Parents fears that manifest in actions and words interrupt the child's focus and ability to model. Modeling tapped into mirror neurons and, eventually, the girls own development drives towards mastery. At last report, the girls eat everything.

Most of us, children and adults, relish sitting around a chat filled table. Young children cannot understand their parents worries. They do, however, feel the worry. And, worry can suppress appetite. Convivial meals at home or out with family, friends and your children build a foundation for the future. Bon app tit!

"> Richard Kahn, PhD, RD, es una nutricionista pedi?trica de Nueva York en pr?ctica privada especializada en las necesidades de ni?os peque?os. Llegar a ?l en richard@brooklynletters.com o RichardKahnNutrition.com.

BLOGS Sillas de ruedas y galletas, Compensar el tiempo perdido y el peso perdido, Obtener una 'D' por exceso de suplementación y Nutrici?n Infantil y Infantil


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