Are you a member of the clean plate club? Remember that from childhood? Remember the shame your parents would put on you to finish everything on your plate? Even if you were full, even if there was something on your plate that made you sick, you were expected to finish it off.
It makes sense in a way. Our parents wanted us to not be wasteful. They needed us to learn to appreciate what we had. They also didn’t want to have to feed us at irregular times. If we didn’t eat at noon when lunch was served, we’d be hungry at 2 and they would have to prepare food for us. That is inconvenient for them.
But there is a problem here. The child didn’t fill his own plate. There may be too much on it. There may be items on it he is allergic to. Also, children are not small adults. Their stomachs are smaller. It ignores these facts when they are expected to eat the same amount and the same kind of foods as their parents. To insist that they clean their plate when they had no say as to what and how much went on it is to teach them to ignore their own body’s needs and their own feelings. It is telling them that their needs and feelings do not matter.
Insisting that a child clean his plate is exactly the same as force feeding the child. Worse, it is expecting the child to force feed himself. It sets him up for a lifetime of not listening to his own body’s needs. It sets him up for obesity, at a minimum. At the worst it teaches him that his own needs and feelings do not matter, do not count. It therefore teaches him that he, himself, as a person does not matter.