Monday, October 18, 2010
Yuck! Everyone has heard the word, spoken the word or wanted to say it at least one time. It could happen eating a family dinner, tasting a new restaurant dish, sampling an unlucky-pot dish or simply nibbling at a bad meal in the home of a friend. Adults think “Yuck, this taste’s awful,” and a child might exclaim, “This is yucky!” The burning question: does one actually have to eat the food, or is there a socially acceptable way to deal with the “yuck?”
The bad food situation can arise either at home with family or in public. Often, one look at a dish with a unique presentation (fish with the head attached) or hearing the inclusion of an unusual ingredient (sardines) is enough to cause the exclamation “Yuck!” Begin exposing children to different kinds of foods at an early age, as that is the time they are most impressionable. Studies have shown that children need to be exposed to new foods 10 times before actually being able to decide whether or not they like it. Therefore, introduce it in fun and different ways. Just in time for the Halloween season are Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Frosting, which can be found on the blog Chocolate and Tea (avocados are seriously mystical foods!).
Another way to lessen the stress of unwanted/"yucky" foods at mealtimes: engage children by planning meals together. Use a food chart, shopping for ingredients and teaching them how to make healthy food decisions, which will ultimately prepare children to make better choices for themselves.
Finally, parents can explain that the word “yuck” is not an acceptable way to describe food on the table and provide a suitable alternative response. If the child does not wish to try something, a simple No Thank You will suffice. After all, not wanting to sample a dish does not mean that manners should be lead astray!
It is important for children to realize a meal takes time and effort to concoct. Our EtiKids can understand preparation communicates caring for others and makes people happy. Expressing feelings by making faces or describing how yucky the food tastes is hurtful behavior and should not be excused. It is also important to be sensitive to other people's feelings; everyone does not have the same interests in food, and various choices should be respected. In EtiKids, one of our favorite phrases is "Don't Yuck My Yum!"
At the home of a friend or in a restaurant with other people, there is ample opportunity for exposure to strange or unusual foods. First, one should never say “yuck” out loud. Second, “Thank you, I’ll try a little,” is the perfect way to accept a small helping if it is a new food or one is unsure of the taste. If the flavor is too strong or tastes unpleasant, one can hide the fact by playing and pushing small pieces around the plate. Please do not feed the pet as many animals have allergies and can become very ill. Spitting into a napkin is never good manners!
Individuals with food allergies, medically restricted diets can say, “It looks delicious, but I am gluten free.” For ingredients which are unknown or suspect, “No thank you, I have a food allergy,” is a polite and acceptable answer.
As grownups, set an example and be a role model; try new foods and experiment! Try to sample different dishes and be open to new tastes and textures... But please, Don't Yuck My Yum!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Walking into a favorite department store with one’s best friend in search of a brand new pick-me up mood lipstick, two pair of eyes immediately scan for the cosmetics department. Blocking the path? A multicolored colossal flower-print dress and flashy gold handbag furiously gesticulate within the sight line. All motor and visual motion abruptly stops. In a flash palpitations patter feverishly, saliva drips from the sides of the mouth and an overwhelming sense of panic develops. As The Dress moves closer, it is apparent... You don’t remember her name. You should know it, as introductions will need to be made. But at this moment, it has conveniently escaped. Introductions will need to be made. NOW WHAT?
Introductions are an important part of making new friendships and keeping them. There are times when introductions can be a challenge. One of the most embarrassing situations can be forgetting someone’s name. Regardless of age, it happens to everyone at one time or another. An introduction has to be made, memory fails, and suddenly a person’s name remains perched on the tip of the tongue. When this happens there are three ways to handle this:
Fess up! One can sincerely apologize and say to the person, “So very sorry for the absentminded moment, but I just forgot your name”. They may get miffed for the moment, but more often then not, they appreciate sincerity. Honesty pays and there was no running and hiding in the clothing rack to avoid saying hello! As you age, this begins to happen with increased frequency, so most people will be understanding, forgiving and may even laugh! ** (Caution: This will not work if it is a relative, child, spouse or close friend!)
Investigate! Is there someone nearby who may know who the person is? One can approach another person and simply ask, “Who is the person wearing the flowered muumuu?” This must be done quickly and discreetly but usually yields a positive result.
The Sting! This operation is a bit more complex and works on the principle that when a person meets someone, there will be mutual introductions. “Hi! We met at lunch last week. I’m Jamie, and this is my friend, Brett”. The logical response for person C is, “Yes, I remember. I’m Sam. It’s nice to see you again, Jamie, and a pleasure to meet you, Brett”. In a variation, Person A sends over Person B to introduce themselves hoping that person C will also reveal their name. Person B then reports back to person A.
To avoid forgetting an introduction, one can use memory tricks to help reinforce names. This is done by assigning a trait to the person such as Jerry has a big smile. Because Jerry and merry rhyme, the word association becomes Merry Jerry. Parents can teach and help build word associations for the children.
Whatever strategy one chooses to use, it is important to remember that people like to hear their names mentioned. Children can be taught to use the words ‘I’m sorry” or apologize for not remembering a name. That social skill is even more effective when made with eye contact! Role playing prior to a new social situation, where they are likely to meet new people, can help build confidence and increase the child’s level of comfort. Teaching children etiquette helps to prevent potentially awkward and uncomfortable situations. As we want children to meet success, we should prepare them (as best we can) for potential social mishaps and how to gracefully handle them.
OK… Now what were we talking about?