Any parent who has experienced “the picky eater stage” knows that it can be frustrating, especially at dinner time. Just yesterday your child declared he loved peaches and today, he decided that they are “yucky.” Or, he decides that he’ll only eat white foods, why? because green foods, no matter what cool superpowers they might have, well, they remain, green. Sound familiar? Here I share with you the 5 mealtime mistakes parents of picky eaters are making over and over.
Don’t worry, you are not alone! We have all been there, as fear of our child going hungry rushes through us. Oh, and no more tricks that resort to hiding veggies in the food, getting caught, and then back to square one. Oh.boy!
Top 5 Mistakes many of Us Make:
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 in the child towards meal times.
Tip: Create a no-pressure environment at meal time, so the child has an opportunity to lose the fear of trying new foods. It will be hard, but take a step back and try.
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 throughout the day. 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.
Tip: Focus on making the other meals in the day nutritious – packing snacks, bigger breakfast, and healthy lunch. 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.
This will help the child recognize when their bellies have had enough to eat and not feel pressured to eat all that is on the plate, this is a good eating habit to establish early.
3. Bribing kids with dessert.
Bribing kids with sweets that are 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.”
Tip: Have family dessert planned occasionally. Dessert should be established as a special treat and not tied to another food or used as a reward.
4. Making a separate meal for picky eaters.
In fear that their child 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.
Tip: Make sure each meal made has one or two elements every member of the family will eat. If chicken and pasta tend to be winners, try serving the chicken and pasta with broccoli or carrots.
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. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.
Tip: Let your kids serve themselves, or assist them with serving themselves, this will provide a sense of independence and control over what they eat.
What is your biggest struggle with your Picky Eater?