Tired of mealtime tantrums and tears? Worry no more!
Many parents are left frustrated at mealtimes, with their children refusing to eat most of their food, but there are simple steps you can take to overcome this.
Parents often surrender to their child’s wants to avoid a mealtime tantrum… It’s a trap! Focus on your behavior during mealtime by doing the following:
Respect Your Child’s Opinion: Don’t force-feed a child who claims to be full or not hungry; it undermines his/her sense of hunger or satiety. Children’s palates are very sensitive, so maybe your child simply doesn’t like the food.
Be Patient and Persistent: Food rejection is a natural part of child development. Children need repeated exposure to the same food before they’re willing to taste it.
Be a Role Model: Your children will eat what they see you eat.
Picky eaters snack throughout the day, thus getting full before meals. Prevent this by scheduling meals and snacks.
Introduce new foods in tiny portions (1/2tsp).
Introduce during snack time; the child who refuses to eat will be hungry by the next meal and will eat anything.
If your child likes rice, try shredding new vegetables over it or add small pieces of broccoli over spaghetti.
Always taste a meal first; make sure it’s appetizing.
Ask your child to help with selecting and preparing food.
Serve attractive food: cut shapes, mix colors and include sliced vegetables with their favorite dip.
Shift focus to something other than the food’s taste: its color, shape or texture.
Know your child’s preferences (crunchiness/smoothness, saltiness/sweetness) and try to modify food texture accordingly.
A study by Dr. Helen Hendy found that preschoolers were more likely to try mango when another classmate tried it.
The whole family should be seated at the table for meals, with eating being the sole focus.
Children should identify food as fuel, not reward. Rewarding with specific foods (like chocolate) leads to poor eating habits. Your child may associate eating with achievement or stress relief rather than hunger.
Even if your child asks for it!
By making small and steady changes, you can promote healthy eating habits which your child can carry throughout his life.