Eating is a biological necessity for physical and neurological growth and development. For some children, eating is difficult, frustrating, and anxiety provoking.I see children who need feeding therapy for a variety of reasons- including picky eaters, feeding aversions, decreased ability to chew and swallow solids, and children who have low muscle tone in their throat; causing them to be at increased risk of food going into their lungs. Imagine, being a mother, and seeing your child struggle, with something they NEED to grow and develop.
As a mother, watching your child struggle to meet their nutritional needs is devastating. As a speech pathologist specializing in feeding therapy, I get calls from worried, anxious mothers multiple times a day. Its heartbreaking to hear mothers in this frantic state. I assure parents that there IS hope, whether its therapy with myself or another specialist, medical testing, etc.
I’ve completed hundreds of feeding therapy sessions- all of which are rewarding and important in their own way. Seriously, I love my job, I love helping children and their parents have successful mealtimes. One common theme I see, is children feeding off of their parents’ anxieties. In my sessions, I always take time to address how my PARENTS are feeling about the past week’s progress. This question, I find is SO important.
I’ve found that a lot of the time, if my parents are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted with their child’s progress within feeding therapy, the child often times exhibits behaviors that portray this as well in our sessions. By taking the time to address my parents’ emotions prior to beginning the feeding therapy session, I find that parents have a blank slate to jump into a new week. Not only do my parents like to decompress, but their children like it too! Children are so in-tune to their parent’s , siblings, friends emotions classic boxing coach. If they see their parents anxious and frustrated, it often times affects their ability to have calm, fun , meal times which is SO important for successful feeding therapy sessions. I tell my parents to take a FULL minute (seriously set a timer!) to breathe deeply and decompress before their child’s meal time.
They sometimes look at me like I’m crazy; but those that take my advice have given me awesome feedback that their child’s mealtimes are more successful and fun. So, help yourself AND your child by taking a step back, taking some deep breaths before meal times.