Non-Directive Language is a way to talk with children that empowers them with the choice to make their own mind up about engaging in a task. It revolves around NOT asking them to do anything! Yep, using the power of suggestion and curiosity to involve children. It works with feeding language because it is much more pressure free than conventional mealtime talk parents tend to use.
Non-Directive Sentence Starters for mealtimes
- I’m wondering if….
- My (ears/nose/eyes/fingers) are clever and tell me that this food is …..
- I am thinking …
- I see you are …
- I am going to …
Worked examples of Non-Directive language about food:
- I’m wondering if this cheese slice is bigger than my slice of bread
- My ears are clever and tell me that the breadstick is crunchy, and my clever tongue tells me that it is smooth.
- I am thinking about how Curious George (or insert other favourite character) would learn about the smell of this carrot stick.
- I see you are looking at the food in the middle of the table. I can help you if you need anything.
- I am going to serve myself some blueberries with the tongs.
As always, I prefer to work towards ZERO food talk at mealtimes, yet I know that at least these language swaps are valuable to have in your tool kit. And a great stepping stone to taking away food language that puts pressure on your child and on yourself.
If making this change to mealtime language makes sense to you or you’d like some more, check out this parenting video (runtime 1 hour) all about food talk from my shop or invest in this kangaroo placemat for kids that acts as a great reminder and physical prompt for your child to be curious about new foods.
In our subscription membership hub, your feeding team, I have written a unit on Non-Directive Language that can be used with food.