The Division of Responsibility


I consider Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility (DOR) in Feeding key to helping children establish a healthy relationship with food and maintain their innate intuitive eating skills as they grow.

DOR outlines the jobs of parent/caregiver versus the child.

The parent/caregiver’s feeding jobs:

  • choose and prepare (or purchase) the food .

  • provide regular meals and snacks (every 2-5 hours). (If food availability is unpredictable, children may develop a scarcity mindset that will negatively affect their intake and ability to listen to their body.) .

  • make eating times pleasant (avoid distractions and negative conversations) .

  • model appropriate mealtime behavior .

  • remind children of when meals and snacks will be offered to avoid grazing behaviors (for very young kids unaware of time, try offering some context such as “we will eat a snack after music class”). If a child grazes, we can’t expect them to be hungry at mealtime allow children to eat as much or as little as they desire. Let them grow into their genetic body size.

The child’s feeding jobs:

  • eat or not eat

  • eat a lot or a little

  •  grow and develop into the body size they are meant to have

 Children are able to listen to and respond to their body’s needs best when parents/caregiver trust them to do their jobs with eating. Pressure, coercing, counting bites, restricting, and offering rewards all amount to poorer eating habits in the end. .

What questions do you have about DOR?