My last blog was all about the benefits of happy meal times and what children can learn through making and eating food. But what happens if your child hates your cooking, can’t eat meat, vegetables, only eats food that is white or anything that comes out of the freezer!!!! Fussy eating habits are very common and can cause a lot of anxiety for parents.
Why do children do it? In the main they do it to get attention, because it has become a habit, to exercise control or perhaps it’s a game and because it works. We fall for it, don’t we?
Lots of parents spend a lot of time worrying about food/feeding. It’s just part of being a parent and we are all learning on the job. We buy special foods and prepare special meals, we watch over them eating, scold, threaten, fuss and discuss with our friends. In fact, we become fussy feeders.
Here are some tips that might work for you: –
- Model good eating habits yourself
- Tell your child, “You really are a good eater”; “You like to try lots of different foods, don’t you.” This will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Praise good eating and manners
- Give your child some food s/he likes and a small amount of the food s/he doesn’t like every day
- Give them a choice of 2 meals (that you are prepared to make): “Would you like mince or fish finger, beans or carrots?” Stick with the options you have given so that the child has choice without leading into lengthy negotiations and arguments.
- Let your child help themselves to some things as again, it gives them choice and allows them to feel in control while you still maintain the boundaries. This will also teach them independence and social skills.
- Try to make the meal colourful and attractive
- Let your child prepare food and make simple snacks
- Reduce nibbling and junk foods. You want them to learn to eat when they are hungry
- Your child isn’t hungry just because you are or because you think they should be. If they skip a meal, they won’t suffer and the consequence will be that they are hungry next meal time.
- Don’t make meal times a big issue or power contest
Remember it is important to try and make meal times a happy occasion.