After writing the post, “Dancing in the Kitchen” I decided to contact Melanie Potock and ask her specific questions regarding her successful CD and what inspired her to produce “Dancing in the Kitchen”. Upon listening to her CD, I was very confident that she would have inspiring and interesting information for parents. I wanted to share this information with my readers.
1. What inspired you to create your CD “Dancing in the Kitchen”? Whether I was working with a child with severe disabilities or the all-too-common garden variety picky eater, I observed the daily stress that families experience when a child has difficulty eating. I wanted to create children’s music that even adults would love and that would support my philosophy of focusing on time together as a family, rather than how many bites a child took that meal. Feeding therapy is a steady, step by step process. We might as well enjoy the journey and do a little dancing in the kitchen along the way!
2. How do you think “Dancing in the Kitchen” has inspired children to embrace new foods? No one wants to try anything new when the atmosphere is thick with stress. Music, like the songs from Dancing in the Kitchen, can change the mood in a room in a very short time. Part of feeding therapy is helping struggling parents be open to the possibility that eating can be fun. One very smart mom, whose son was in feeding therapy, told me “When I saw how my sense of ease in turn relaxed my son, I understood that change for him began with me.” Plus, kids and parents just love the variety of tunes on the CD! One family plays “On Top of Spaghetti” to call everyone to the table for Spaghetti night. Another uses “The Food Goes Marching” during oral motor exercises. They do 10 reps of an exercises and then march around the table to a verse and repeat! What inspires children to embrace new foods are their fabulous parents. Dancing in the Kitchen is just one tool that shows kids how totally awesome and fun parents can be!
3. Can you give me some examples of success stories and some suggestions on making mealtime fun and less stressful for children and their parents.
In my book, Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids: How to Teach Your Child about the Joy of Food, one parent wrote this eloquent letter describing their family’s journey to happier mealtimes:
“When my son was three years old, he reduced is edible repertoire to two items: French fries and potato chips…Before long, his percentiles for weight were sinking faster than the Titanic, and his hair had turned the consistency of steel wool. He also refused to eat in front of his peers, or in any situation that was new or otherwise uncomfortable for him. So, by the time we got down to the short list of refined potato products, I was in anguish, powerless and walking on eggshells all the time…Each feeding was a combination of presenting the food, waiting, watching, begging, pleading, cajoling, ignoring, bargaining, threatening, waiting some more and then finally giving up.”
When I first observed this family and the situation described above, it broke my heart. This mom was scared to death for her son. During our first session together, I observed a family dinner and within a few minutes, pulled the mom aside to whisper some words of advice before staring our journey together. She later described the moment in my book: “Mel took me aside and offered what I later understood the be her most important word of advice: she told me to relax, to show my son that everything was okay…and to replace my “worried mommy” face with a “happy face” of both eager anticipation and ease. This was not an easy feat, as I was sure we were on an irreversible path to death by starvation. Yet, (Mel) assured me that three meals of French fries per day was still a long way from a feeding tube, and a feeding tube was still a long way from death, and so I gradually began to breathe again.”
She went on to describe her journey: “For us, the process was slow.” It took weeks for my son to tolerate having a new food sitting on his plate with the French fries. Then we worked on getting him to touch it, to hold it to his lips, taste it, eat it and finally, eat it without a major fuss. Expanding his menu required hundreds of tiny steps, but one that created many opportunities to celebrate along the way! Mealtimes became fun times – for all of us. My son’s favorite food game was to see what ridiculous thing he could get us to do by trying a new food. Daddy’s barefoot ballet in the snow was a sure bet for a big bite!”
In fact, it was that story that inspired the first song on the CD: Happy Eating Food! The lyrics are about celebrating each tiny step of success:
When you take a bite of baloney
I’ll twirl on tippy toes
When you try one little blueberry
Daddy will dance barefoot in the snow…
Happy Eating Food is about being silly while enjoying time together as a family. It’s not a song about bribery or “IF you do this, then I will do that.” Bribery induces pressure – never a good thing for a child. I provide strategies for parents that communicate to the child that he will try the new food, when he is ready. When he does, something very silly will happen and it makes it all very, very fun, for everyone. These tips and others are included in the CD packaging, which opens like a book.
It took about 18 months to go from French fries and steel wool for hair to salmon, asparagus and more, but we kept it light, we kept it fun and we gently challenged her son to try new foods. In my seminars, Feeding Therapy, It’s Not Just about Swallowing, I teach other therapists how to break down each “NO!” into small enough portions to set the child (and the parent) up for success. The key is to build trust and confidence and reduce anxiety by following a specific, step by step process and most importantly, keeping it fun and light for everyone.
4. What is your favorite song and why?
So many favorites! If I had to pick, it would probably be the title song: Dancing in the Kitchen, which explores the auditory experience that is so unique to each family’s kitchen. We often think of the aroma when we cook, but have you ever listened to the different sounds? This song recreated the voice of the kitchen – the crunching, the chopping, and the roar of the blender. The songwriter, Joan Huntsberry Langford, is known for this type of playful creativity and incorporated marvelous sound effects in this very catchy tune!
Song samples can be found on the My Munch Bug facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Munch-Bug/146340342073238?sk=app_155326481208883 or at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jhlangdon.
P.S. J A significant portion of proceeds goes to the Ben’s Hope Foundation, in honor of my little buddy, Ben. Learn more about taking life step by step here: http://www.bens-hope.org/
About Melanie Potock
Melanie is a speech language pathologist, feeding specialist and national speaker on the topic of picky eating and feeding difficulties. You can view her website at www.mymunchbug.com. She is also a contributing author on tenderfoodie.com. Both of these websites are great resources for parents helping their child work through feeding difficulties, allergies, etc.