Any parent who has experienced “the picky eater stage” knows that it can be frustrating. Just yesterday the child declared he loved peaches and today, he decided that they are “yucky.” Or, said child decides that he’ll only eat white foods because green foods, no matter what cool superpowers they might have, they remain, in fact, green.
And then, we employ tricks and resort to hiding veggies in the food, and when we get caught, we are back to square one. Oh.boy.
Here are the top 5 mistakes many parents make at meal time:
1. Pressuring the child to eat.
Kids can smell pressure a mile away, and they are not trained athletes who perform well under pressure. It’s quite the opposite. Pressuring our kids to eat will create negative feelings towards mealtimes in the child.
Try to create a no-pressure environment at meal time, so the child has an opportunity to loose the fear of trying new foods.
2. Making the child make a “happy plate.”
Many parents rely on dinner time for their child to get all the nutrients they might have missed during the day, and while finishing the plate might make the parent feel better about the nutrition the child might have taken in, pushing a child to make a happy plate is the same thing as pressuring our kids to eat.
Focus on making the other meals of the day nutritious so that the child doesn’t feel pressured to make a happy plate and can stop eating when they are full. Recognizing when their bellies have had enough to eat is a good eating habit to establish.
3. Bribing kids with dessert.
Bribing kids with sweets typically served as dessert, is never a good idea because it establishes that foods they are not fond of, like vegetables, are “bad” and dessert is “good.”
Dessert should be established as a special treat but not tied to another food.
4. Making a separate meal for picky eaters.
In fear that their child did will be malnourished and will go hungry, many parents are making separate meals for their kids. This habit encourages them to stay picky and not try new foods, and it’s making you, the cook, work overtime in the kitchen.
Instead, make sure each meal made has one or two elements every member of the family will eat.
5. Serving too much food on your child’s plate.
Often, parents over-serve food onto their child’s plate making eating an overwhelming experience. Letting your kids serve themselves, or at least assisting them with serving themselves, will provide a sense of independence and control, two things kids assert at meal times.