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A preschool notified a Family Outreach Worker of a young boy who had poor eating habits and too much television. He was picky about what he ate, and always had unhealthy foods in his lunch box; he also boasted to preschool staff that he watched a lot of television. His mum had asked for strategies to encourage her son to eat fruit and vegetables, but she was also worried about her son transferring to school in September. She felt that she needed support with helping him make this transition.
Several home visits were undertaken by the Family Outreach Worker, who introduced fruit and vegetables in a fun way for the child to try. A food exposure sheet was given to mum so she could monitor the amount of times the child was trying a new food.
The worker and mum looked at fats and sugars in some foods that are popular with children.
The Outreach Worker also looked over children’s centre activity timetables with mum, and both mum and her son were praised for widening their social circles. The worker also told mum of the benefits of less ‘screen’ time for her son, and gave her a TV monitoring sheet so mum could mark down how often her son watched TV or DVDs, as well as the amount of time spent playing computer and video games.
Outreach worker also gave mum the ‘SOUL’ questionnaire to ascertain mum’s mood and determine the possibility of a mood disorder or depression.
Although initially ‘scared’ of the fruit and vegetables, the child was quickly able to touch, feel and kiss the new healthy food presented to him. Mum said this was real progress as he would not usually able to do this. Both mum and child enjoyed being shown some active play ideas, with the child asking ‘what’s next, what next?’ Mum said she would use the ideas on her own. During one home visit, mum turned the telly off when she usually had it on and the child played with Legos instead. He didn’t even ask for the TV to be turned back on. The worker was still concerned about mum’s isolation, but mum said there had been illness and bereavement in the family, but when the situation improves she would attend more groups.
The child has begun to taste fruit and vegetables, and mum has implemented some of the strategies she and the outreach worker tried when introducing her child to a new food by using praise and a sticker chart. She stated that she is finding the support and ideas of the FOW very helpful, and she’s glad to see her son eating healthier and spending less time in front of the TV.