Samantha pushed her vegetables in a slow circle around her plate, hoping some of them would wear away like tires on a car. Her mom scolded her and threatened to keep her at the table all night. To Samantha, that sounded like a better option than downing all those gross vegetables.
Do you know a picky eater? Does it seem that the harder you try to make them eat, the less likely they are to actually chew anything and swallow it?
It’s easy for adults to get sucked into an unwinnable power struggle when it comes to food. Try as we might, there is really no (legal) way to MAKE a kid eat.
Wise folks understand that the odds of success go way up when we focus on the things that we CAN control. Instead of lecturing, threatening, or waging war, it makes far more sense to calmly control things like the following:
What food we serve
How much we serve
When we serve it
How long we allow it to sit on the table
How much we involve kids in the process (Can they prepare one meal each week?)
What snacks we make available
How much we charge for snacks if they are sneaked in between meals
Remaining calm and empathetic when our children refuse to eat
Allowing their hungry tummies to do the teaching when they go on hunger strikes
Instead of lecturing about starving children in remote parts of the world, experiment with saying, “Dinner is served until the timer goes ‘ding.’” Then allow your child to decide how much they need to eat. Since everyone is a bit different when it comes to this, the only way they can learn what’s right for them is by experimenting with eating too little, or too much, and experiencing the natural and logical consequences.
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
Dr. Charles Fay