How Caregiver Language Around Food Can Shape Competent Eaters from Toddlers to Teens


A focus area of the Academy’s Strategic Plan is to promote eating well at all stages of life, but for parents, the pressure to encourage children’s nutritional variety can be counterproductive. The most common language used to foster better eating habits in kids tends to backfire because it interferes with the development of eating competence and a healthy relationship with food. This interactive lecture co-led by an educator and an RDN delivers novel language-based tools for caregivers to use with kids, so your clients (and your own family!) find the “Aha!” moments that lead to more ease and flexibility around food. While the foundation of lifelong eating behaviors begins in childhood, this session proves it’s never too late to shift the narrative around food. You’ll gain specific guidance to address common challenges when feeding toddlers through teens. You’ll formulate new phrases that do away with labels like “healthy/unhealthy” and revise how you talk to kids about food – choosing effective and compassionate words that improve the eating experience for everyone at the family table. The takeaways from this session are fresh and practical ideas you can implement immediately to shift family dynamics around food.

Learning Objectives

Construct new phrases to establish a no-pressure eating environment with kids that takes judgment and shame off the table

Modify how parents and caregivers talk to kids to better manage their resistance and rejection of foods

Rephrase what parents and caregivers say about food to avoid dichotomous labels like, “good/bad,” and help kids of all ages establish autonomy and self-efficacy as eaters

Performance Indicators

2.2 Demonstrates effective communication skills

4.2 Exercises critical thinking when faced with opportunities and challenges

9.3 Designs, selects and implements education strategies to meet the learning needs of individuals, groups, communities and populations


Stephanie Meyers

Senior Clinical Oncology Dietitian at Iris Oncology and Owner/Founder of Families Eating Well

Iris Oncology

Oona Hanson

Family Mentor at Equip Health and Owner/Founder at Oona Hanson - Parent Coaching

Equip Health and Oona Hanson - Parent Coaching


Caroline Kohler

Clinical Nutrition Specialist

Boston Children’s Hospital

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