Fussy eaters at home? What you should know about mealtime and four gentle solutions for the dinner table!
Do you have a fussy eater at home??
I have had so many enquiries about feeding picky eaters! Because each child and situation is different I want to share some basic tips. 3 things I consider with meal times and four possible solutions. This article is best suited for children over five years old.
Eating is one of the few areas in life we actually have complete control in. This is true of your son or daughter as well. There is very little that a child has any say in, when they eat is definitely one of them! So, if you feel "out of control" whenever you're trying to feed your picky child it's because you are! :) It's important to understand this and take a big step back remembering they have the control and the right to choose. "You're a big girl now! You can eat dinner or choose not to, but remember you'll be going to bed hungry and that's not much fun!"
A child's development varies so often that so many times we think they should be eating so much more than they actually need. Children go through phases when their bodies slow down and don't require nearly as much food as we are offering. Trust your child's body to know when they're hungry. This will give you some peace when they seem to refuse everything you offer! It's okay when your child does not finish their meals. It may be a sign that their bodies simply don't require the fuel right now.
This is a biggie. Motivation is the key to teaching. You cannot teach a brain that is not receptive. That means you can't force a child to eat that isn't hungry. During meal time the motivation is hunger. If your child is refusing to eat at dinner time, consider how often she/he is eating through out the day with juice bottles, snacks, etc. Little bellies fill up fast and we often misjudge just how much they have actually eaten. So, make sure your kiddo is hungry by reducing those intermittent snacks and saving meals for meal time.
Quick Food Solutions to get your dinner time back on track!
4 quick and easy solutions for children 5+
1. Include your little one during meal preparation so they build a connection between their hard work and eating. When a child feels proud and accomplished it makes the experience so enjoyable and less a burden!
2. Establish dinner rule “Take one bite for every year of your age from each item on your plate.” Make it fun by adding a silly counting song or numbers game. It doesn’t all have to be rules and regs! Plus, this gets their attention off the “chore” or eating and onto the "game".
3. Save favourite foods for last. Serve meal in courses. Begin with least favourite. If this is a new food that your child hasn’t tried often you can mix it with some of their ole favs! Have a visual in place so child always knows what they’re working towards. Dress it up with some cool plating techniques to take child’s attention off the greens and onto the FUN.
4. Only eat what is served. No snacks, no cheats when child refuses - they will learn quickly after going to bed hungry! This is for any parent that has tried EVERYTHING and feels overwhelmed and frustrated. Are your kids (5 years old+) taking over the dinner table with whining, fights and complaints? Maybe it’s time for some serious action. Try this! Watch your child straighten up in no time. Don’t make a conversation out of it - just toss the food out and move on.
Please remember that...
Strategies run out of steam. Change them up!
Not all strategies work for all kids! But when one works, it can make all the difference!
Was there one I missed? Please share with us your favourite solution to getting your little one happily fed!
About the author Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour.
Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs.
Stephanie’s experience covers early intensive behaviour intervention programs for children with special needs and for families newly diagnosed. She hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support.
Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple.
"By helping parents place emphasis on connection, empowerment and encouragement, I believe that all children have the ability to reach their full potential." - Stephanie Wicker
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