Anthony is sitting in your office with his mom.

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He’s ten years old.

Right now, his attention is focused on his iPod. He’s so riveted, it’s like he’s gazing into a portal to the next dimension.

Anthony is sitting in your office with his mom.

He’s ten years old.

Right now, his attention is focused on his iPod. He’s so riveted, it’s like he’s gazing into a portal to the next dimension.

“Uffff” sighs his mom. \”Anthony won’t eat—

“Tony,” says Anthony, without looking up.

Mom rolls her eyes. “Tony. Fine. Anyway, Anthony won’t eat anything.”

“That’s not true,” says Anthony — sorry, Tony — into his iPod. “I like chicken nuggets.”

“And Cheerios. He’ll eat corn. Sometimes peas. Hot dogs. Tater tots or French Fries. That’s about it. Oh, soda of course. Juice, I guess.”

Tony shrugs. “Other stuff tastes gross to me.”

“You won’t even try it,” says mom, exasperated. “And now you get sick all the time, and you don’t have any energy. You’re pale. You just sit like a lump. I’m sure your eating is the problem.”

Silence from Tony. You can hear the faint sound of bass beats through his earphones.

“I just feel like I can’t make any headway here,” says mom.

“Well, who buys the groceries?” you ask.

Mom looks guilty. “We do, of course. But you know, it’s hard when he’s asking for things. I feel like I can’t say no to him. I’m so tired of meal time always being a battle.”

You take notes. “If you had to describe the cupboards and fridge at your house, what would you say is in there?”

Mom looks even more guilty. \”Well… I mean… I try to have some healthy stuff in there… but my husband likes the snacks too. My daughter, she’s 14, loves ice cream. And I’m afraid that everyone will get mad about it if I try to take those away.

“Plus, you know, it’s so hard to juggle everyone’s preferences, especially while my husband and I are both working, and trying to drive Tony and his sister to their activities.”

You persist. “And who cooks?”

“Me, most of the time,” says mom, \”but my husband sometimes as well, although honestly, he could probably help out more… I just have trouble asking. It’s easier to do it myself, I guess.

“Often we’ll just get takeout because we’re so busy. It’s like, OK, I have 45 minutes between school ending and my daughter’s cheerleading practice, and that’s across town, and then Tony’s school is asking me to send snacks one day a week, and on the weekends it’s just a crazy whirlwind of trying to get everything done.”

You nod understandingly.

The picture is starting to emerge — the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Tony’s picky eating problem isn’t his alone. It’s a whole-family issue.

What do you do, coach?

Welcome to this week’s case study.

Assignment instructions

Anthony is sitting in your office with his mom.

He’s ten years old.

Right now, his attention is focused on his iPod. He’s so riveted, it’s like he’s gazing into a portal to the next dimension.

Anthony is sitting in your office with his mom.

He’s ten years old.

Right now, his attention is focused on his iPod. He’s so riveted, it’s like he’s gazing into a portal to the next dimension.

“Uffff” sighs his mom. \”Anthony won’t eat—

“Tony,” says Anthony, without looking up.

Mom rolls her eyes. “Tony. Fine. Anyway, Anthony won’t eat anything.”

“That’s not true,” says Anthony — sorry, Tony — into his iPod. “I like chicken nuggets.”

“And Cheerios. He’ll eat corn. Sometimes peas. Hot dogs. Tater tots or French Fries. That’s about it. Oh, soda of course. Juice, I guess.”

Tony shrugs. “Other stuff tastes gross to me.”

“You won’t even try it,” says mom, exasperated. “And now you get sick all the time, and you don’t have any energy. You’re pale. You just sit like a lump. I’m sure your eating is the problem.”

Silence from Tony. You can hear the faint sound of bass beats through his earphones.

“I just feel like I can’t make any headway here,” says mom.

“Well, who buys the groceries?” you ask.

Mom looks guilty. “We do, of course. But you know, it’s hard when he’s asking for things. I feel like I can’t say no to him. I’m so tired of meal time always being a battle.”

You take notes. “If you had to describe the cupboards and fridge at your house, what would you say is in there?”

Mom looks even more guilty. \”Well… I mean… I try to have some healthy stuff in there… but my husband likes the snacks too. My daughter, she’s 14, loves ice cream. And I’m afraid that everyone will get mad about it if I try to take those away.

“Plus, you know, it’s so hard to juggle everyone’s preferences, especially while my husband and I are both working, and trying to drive Tony and his sister to their activities.”

You persist. “And who cooks?”

“Me, most of the time,” says mom, \”but my husband sometimes as well, although honestly, he could probably help out more… I just have trouble asking. It’s easier to do it myself, I guess.

“Often we’ll just get takeout because we’re so busy. It’s like, OK, I have 45 minutes between school ending and my daughter’s cheerleading practice, and that’s across town, and then Tony’s school is asking me to send snacks one day a week, and on the weekends it’s just a crazy whirlwind of trying to get everything done.”

You nod understandingly.

The picture is starting to emerge — the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Tony’s picky eating problem isn’t his alone. It’s a whole-family issue.

What do you do, coach?

Welcome to this week’s case study.

Assignment instructions

  1. Review previous lessons for background and inspiration.Look at lessons on things like:
    • the kitchen makeover
    • client values, priorities, and goals
    • communication
    • etc.
  2. Consider the individual features of this situation.Who are the players? What are their individual particularities?How is this situation unique? What is the primary objective here?
  3. Consider what else you might need to know as a coach.We’ve given you a snapshot, from which you can learn or infer some information.What else you might need or want to know here?What questions would you ask in order to find out?What other data or information would you want to have in order to understand this situation better?
  4. Use a whole-family/life stage approach.Mom thinks this is just Tony’s problem. Obviously it’s a whole-family challenge.Each person in the family (mom, dad, teenage daughter, Tony) has a particular developmental age, a particular set of concerns and interests, and a particular role in the family drama.
  5. Develop a whole-family/life stage action plan.How would you develop a whole-family/life stage approach action plan?What habits and routines might you have to adjust, change, or “dislodge” in addressing this situation?What obstacles might you confront and how will you work around those?What’s the big picture for this family, and what would your first few action steps be? Why?This assignment should be 2–3 pages long.

Assignment instructions summary

  1. Review previous lessons for background and inspiration.
  2. Consider the individual features of this situation.
  3. Consider what else you might need to know as a coach.
    • What else might you need or want to know here?
    • What questions would you ask in order to find out?
  4. Use a whole-family/life stage approach.For each person in the family:
    • What is their developmental age?
    • What are their particular concerns and interests?
    • What role do they play in the family drama?
  5. Develop a whole-family/life stage action plan.Identify:
    • the larger strategy/approach;
    • the individual steps you would suggest, and in what order;
    • why you chose this approach and steps;
    • what obstacles you anticipate, and how you’ll work around them.
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