Broccoli! I have harvested and frozen the last large heads of what I planted this year. I like using the thawed florets in salads or warmed with a little butter and salt. While I finished my task I thought about a little boy at a potluck dinner this summer. Jack and Jackie Pederson's son Eric had come from Alaska with his wife and two children to visit. The older child is a little boy about 2 1/2 years old. As he ate he talked about many things that were about to happen after lunch. He began to negotiate with his mother concerning the finishing of his lunch.
The negotiation apparently went well on both sides. As I watched, the rest of his bratwurst was removed from his plate and three pieces of broccoli remained. He continued to sit and finish the broccoli. Quite impressive!
There are at least two lessons we can learn or surmise from this story. The first is about giving children the responsibility of making decisions for themselves. The little boy's mother could have 'put her foot down' on the topic of finishing everything on his plate; after all there was only a bite or two of bratwurst left. In this scenario, she would have had all the power and the child would have had none. I have seen this story play out many times. Eventually, the parent loses out. The child will probably make a scene over the decision and everyone will go away stressed and unhappy. In the long run, the child will not have learned to make good choices because he hasn't been given the opportunity to practice making choices as a young child.
The second lesson is about being consistent and following through on what you say. If this child's experience with his mother is that she would eventually give in about eating the broccoli, I don't think he would have finished it without more negotiation or worse, whining. I can surmise that in his home he more often hears his parents following through on what they say. In other words, he has had some power in making a decision, and by being consistent his parents help him follow through on his decision.
Next week, I'll tell you another story about broccoli. It is called The Most Amazing Broccoli Experiment.
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