If picky eating were an Olympic sport, would your child be the gold medal winner?
If so, you’re not alone. Many parents find that their children consistently place first in the “you can’t make me eat that” category and excel at pushing food around their plate or feeding it to the dog.
How can you turn mealtime into a family-friendly hour as opposed to an all-out war? Here are some suggestions:
* Be patient. Don’t try to force your children to eat if they refuse to finish their meal. By creating drama in the kitchen, you set a bad tone for the future. Kids will automatically think of mealtime as a negative experience and will only become more reluctant when it comes to eating. Be persistent by offering a variety of foods along with those you know they like. As new foods become familiar, your children will be more likely to try them.
* Remember, timing is everything. In the midst of a dinnertime showdown, children don’t want to hear all of the reasons why they should eat the food sitting on their plate. Try to incorporate nutrition education during other parts of the day. Bring up the issue during story time, play time or television time – not in the middle of a temper tantrum over broccoli.
* Look for “fun” foods. Scan the supermarket for foods that you know kids would enjoy. Want to get your kids to try seafood? Products like Popcorn Fish, bite-size fish coated in a crispy batter, appeal to children because of their fun shape and kid-friendly taste. Serving fish in this manner early on will encourage your children to keep an open mind about eating different kinds of seafood in the future.
* Set an example. While the focus may be on getting your kids to eat what is on their plate, it helps to look at your own eating habits as well. Children learn by example and often want to eat what they see grown-ups eating. Make a point to let them see you eating and enjoying the same foods you are serving them.