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Prevent Whining with Predictable Mini-Meals


Developed by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Ed.D. and Lynn Jessen M.A


Tired of the whining? Does it feel like your children are constantly begging for food? Are you feeling cranky? Exhausted by the sheer quantity of time spent meeting the needs of your children?

Give yourself a break and increase harmony with teeny tiny oases dispersed throughout the day to refuel, reconnect, and calm.

Insert in your daily schedule six points, spaced every 2.5-3 hours apart to serve the children a little protein, carbohydrates, fruit or vegetables and fat. These mini meals; breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner and bedtime snack, take the surprise out of being called to the table and also eliminate begging for food. Your children know that every few hours, activities will stop, food will be served family style and you will sit down to chat with them. Everyone passes the bowls and serves themselves. (With a little help if needed.) There is no fighting over food. In fact, there is no discussion about food. Instead, these six  mini meals become points of calm connection.

Put away your cell phone. Choose to fully engage with your children. Research shows that the discussions with you build your child’s vocabulary. The larger your child’s vocabulary the more likely to succeed in school.

But it is not just the children who benefit. You do too. Parents today, are spending more time with their children than parents in the 1960’s and it’s wearing them out! When you stop to fully engage with your children at these mini meals something rather miraculous occurs. Afterward, satisfied and calm they happily go off to play independently. You get a break – without any guilt!

If you do not believe Lynn and me, experiment. Choose one mini meal to fully engage with the children – no fighting over food, and no electronics. Note what happens during the meal and following it.  

The next mini meal serve the food, sit down, but scroll through your phone, or send a few text messages. It is highly likely that your children, who are being ignored, will bid for your attention. When they do not get it, they are likely to escalate to a tantrum. And that’s not all. The disruption in the conversation not only leads to meltdowns, but also disrupts the communication process. Your child’s vocabulary scores suffer as a result.  

When you serve six mini meals and sit down to fully engage with your children, they know they will have your full attention. If they are worried about something, they can literally get it out on the table and stop ruminating about it. When they are upset about something, you will notice and ask about it. Joys, plans, ideas, and accomplishments can be shared. By the end of the meal that warm sense of connection fills everyone up. The whining stops, the independent play begins. And to top it all off, regularly served meals help to set the body clock. Nap and bedtime just got more peaceful too.

Great ideas for healthy, peaceful mini meals can be found at, or

Could serving six mini meals dispersed throughout the day and taking a few minutes to connect with the kids improve your day? 

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