Welcome to my blog, which speaks to parents, professionals who work with children, and policy makers. Through stories from my behavioral pediatrics practice (with details changed to protect privacy) I will show how contemporary developmental science can be applied to support parents in their efforts to facilitate their children’s healthy emotional development. I will address factors that converge to obstruct such support. These include limited access to quality mental health care, influences of a powerful health insurance industry and intensive marketing efforts by the pharmaceutical industry.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What I Learned From Eli

Yesterday my 11 year old son ate his first oyster. "I slurped it down," he said."It was chewy and tasted of lemon." I asked him if it was OK for me to write a blog post about him. "Sure," he replied. He is proud of his role as my teacher.

For the first seven or so years of his life, after breast milk and baby food, Eli ate only three things- bagels with cream cheese, pasta with pesto and chicken nuggets. My mother-in-law, though not one to judge me, looked askance when we arrived at her house with our own Tupperware containers of food for him.

Once I read that picky eaters have more taste buds than the average person. I believe that must be true. It always seemed to us that things just tasted more to Eli. It wasn't that he was being oppositional or controlling. He simply could not eat other foods. Similarly, he couldn't stand loud noises. Once, on a family outing to hear fireworks, he and I had to go back to the car and watch from the muffled safety inside. Now Eli is an accomplished musician who plays guitar and saxophone.

Things were not easy for him or us in those early years. But amidst all the advice and worry, one wise very good friend said to me, "Be careful." I understood this to mean that we should not be pushed into doing things that did not feel right to us. That we needed to hang in there with him. So we did.

He still has his moments. The second oyster made him gag, and he declared, "I'm never eating another oyster for the rest of my life." But he ate one. And for him that was quite an accomplishment.

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