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How to Bring Up Bébé, Not a Brat

Former Wall Street Journal reporter Pamela Druckerman moved to France in 2003 and discovered that French children were much better behaved than American kids. Here's what she brought back with her. 

Former Wall Street Journal reporter Pamela Druckerman had one of those "Aha! moments" shortly after she moved to Paris in 2003. When Druckerman was sitting in a restaurant she realized "it was only my daughter who was throwing food and running around the restaurant and whining and just generally having a miserable time." The French children, on the other hand, were sitting politely in their chairs. And they didn't see him to be fussy at all about what they were eating. 

What's the Big Idea?

Druckerman, the author of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, describes the French way of raising a child as an education. But this has nothing to do with school. "The French believe you teach children how to eat," Druckerman tells Big Think. And don't worry, this isn't another iteration of so-called Tiger Parenting. Rather, education is done "by introducing food as one of life’s great pleasures," Druckerman says.

Watch the video here:

So what if your child still thinks artichokes are gross, and continues to throw the food back in your face? Henry Rollins calls this punk rock. If you're a parent, you have a different perspective. So what's to be done. In the next video, Druckerman offers some humble tips from the French. 

Watch the video here:

Druckerman offers five humble steps from French parenting. Let's review:

1.  Get rid of the idea of "kids’ food."  Kids can eat whatever adults can eat. That means there is one dinner and everyone has the same thing.

2.  Serve vegetables first. Kids will be much more likely to eat them.

3.  You don't have to clean your plate. Just taste it. By tasting, Druckerman says, little by little kids get more familiar with food and more likely to eat it the next time.  

4.  There's one official snack time a day. Other than that afternoon snack, kids only eat at regular mealtimes. That means when they sit down to eat, they're actually hungry. 

5.  Approach food with joy. Introduce your kids to healthy foods because "each one is sort of going to be her friend for life," Druckerman says.  

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

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