Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
Hi, thank you for joining the chat
I am sorry to know about your situation. Could you please clarify what is the core issue? You said " I have a similar problem"?
I see. Thank you for clarifying
Some children would feel interest and want to use spoons and forks as early as by 12-23 months, but most would have developed these basic skills by their 17-18 months of age. But each child is unique and coordination around these motor skills could be more challenging for some children than for others.
Is your child physically able to have a good grasp of the utensil and coordinate his hand movement when feeding?
I saw you were typing but never got any further input from you.
Perhaps it's been a chat technical issue limiting our dialogue, it happens many times.
I see you are no longer online.
I will try to share some ideas about it and hopefully you could reply.
My understanding from your words is that you want to encourage your son's self feeding without the use of books, which apparently have become the requirement for him to try any self-feeding behavior, right?
You said this happened after he was ill and you wanted to support him learning how to feed himself...
Is he able to pick up small objects with his thumb and forefingers?
If he is able to to so then he would have the coordination to use utensils to feed himself, otherwise pushing him would not help. But if he has this fine motor skills already developed, it would be a matter of practice as you said for hi to develope this skill.
Children at this age could get easily attached to the easiest ways to get things, and if he has earned that he could eat with books and some entertainment he would try to perpetuate the behavior, expecting yu to spoil him about it as much as possible.
Here is where healthy discipline and positive reinforcement appear as very important components for your child to work on developing these skills-habits, as long as he happens to have the fine motor skills allowing him to do so. This is why I wondered if "he is able to pick up small objects with his thumb and forefingers" without difficulty or not.
I'd say he could have already got habituated to get his mood this way with all the entertainment, as you mentioned of the books, then you need to literally reprogram his learning and behavior towards healthier and independent self-feeding.
Are you still with me?
Which forms of discipline and boundaries have you and your husband implemented in rider to promote his self-feeding?
That has been the core problem here then.
There is no healthy and effective behavior development without good parenting including teaching and modeling good sense of responsibility, individuality, limits and boundaries.
You could start by creating stories about boys learning to use utensils and feeling happier and confident because of it. You could create these stories, print them with some nice pictures appealing to him and make like a booklet of book, then use them during meal time.
In these stories as well as whenever you teach or try to promote your child's learning processes, you need to be very clear in gentle, empathic and exciting ways abut why it is important or essential for him to learn and practice these skills, encouraging him to do so, setting times and healthy compensation-motivation for him to actually know this is something he already needs to work on and master.
You can gradually help him to perform the whole movement, using the spoon hand over hand for him to know how to do it himself.
A key component here is not only to make it clear but to make it fun and exciting for the child, using compensations that could lead your son to feel motivated to try himself and make progress, like offering him to have a toy or game or meal he does really enjoy if he tries hard enough to work on this skills.
Playfulness is key, you know your child, how he thinks, feels, what he likes and what motivates him, use all that knowledge to promote his motivation to participate to truly feel it is not only necessary but fun to do it himself.
Ho many children do you have?
Children are very smart and they do get everything you feel from your verbal and non-verbal behavior, this is why I said both healthy discipline-boundaries and affection-fun need to be present in order to communicate and get your child to willingly participate of every learning experience.
Self-feeding could be a tough one since many times parents coudl literally spoil children feeding them for too long, lie spoiling them, and they would do whatever in their power to perpetuate this since it is the most comfortable or easiest way to fulfill this need.
Regardless of what you try, if you do not show confidence in yourself, set boundaries around what is acceptable and what is not, and show you have enough patience to be playful and consistent at the same time for him to learn how to feed himself with your support, it would not work.
You could start by loading and guiding the spoon for a while if he is not already capable of doing it himself. If he is, just do it to model the very behavior you want him to practice and master, again, this is a process and takes patience, optimism, but also consistency and assertiveness from parents, otherwise children with easily manipulate and control feeding behaviors too.
You mean you started feeling anxious when he does not eat?
As I previously explained, children are very smart and they read parents' emotions and feelings, concerns and fears, thus if a parent gets nervous and shows excessive concern or worried because of the child lack of self-feeding skill, this parent would be using negative reinforcement instead of promoting the self-feeding behavior.
This is why I say that children are the best and toughest means for adults to become more aware of our personal issues, challenges and areas that need further improvement, since our children would trigger all of them, and if we do not focus on making necessary changes and improvements in ourselves, then we would not be able to play a healthy parental role, no matter how hard we try, and most times the "harder" we try, the less results we would get.
This is why I asked you about how many children do you have. If this is your first child it could explain why it's become this challenging for you.
Please try to learn some relaxation and anxiety management skills, while read about positive reinforcement, it could help you a lot in this and with any other parental responsibilities. Remember that every time you show your child you get anxious, nervous or upset about him not eating by himself, you are negatively reinforcing his behavior. Try to stay calm and show him you can handle it while still enforcing rules around times and requirements for meal time.
Play time would depend on him showing gradual improvement in his self-feeding behavior, but you would not get anxious and react in negative ways if he does not perform as you expect, just be consistent not reinforcing the undesired behaviors, while promoting the positive ones with adequate incentives, from play time to a special time outdoors or his favorite meal.
I used to reduce the level of stress around these behaviors by becoming more playful with my daughter, making it fun and really a nice experience to the point we all would enjoy meal times. Then there would be structure, boundaries, positive modeling and reinforcement, and a lot of patience and consistency. Again, it is the adult-parent who shapes the behavior and creates a healthy , harmonious and welcoming family climate around meal times, and not the child, the child is just the one receiving or responding to what we offer and how we present things to him.
Yes, I remember you said that. This is tough work for new parents, but with adequate support from your spouse and family you would be able to make it work. A class in parenting skills could be very useful and ideally counseling fr you to get direct support on each one of these areas requiring improvement. i remember your initial words sowed how stressed you have felt because of it and now challenged by the new responsibility with your second child, this is why the wisest approach would be to improve these parental skills and assertiveness in order to prevent further extra challenges or problems in this or other areas.