As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it, or leave it.
Picky eating will always be a problem – as you change your baby’s diet from the breast milk or formula to solids and then adult foods. It remains a problem until they go to college. Whether it’s a problem then, we usually do not know. But, while they live at home, it’s our problem.
I often hear it in my office: “he eats only certain foods and drinks juice or soda.”
Then, I usually puzzle the mom with a question: “Does he go to the grocery store himself?” After a second, she usually understands what I am getting at.
We, as the parents, create picky eaters. To prove my point, I will tell you that, according to my observations, the second or third child is usually less of a picky eater than the first one! Can you guess why? This is because we get smarter and more experienced as the parents. We learn how to discourage the manipulative behavior of our children.
Yes, they throw a temper tantrum. Yes, they scream and throw the food. Yes, they refuse to eat what we want them to eat.
We are the adults. We are responsible for their health and well-being, and nutrition. We know what they need for healthy growth and we know how to avoid problems such as anemia, vitamin deficiencies, constipation, malnutrition, etc.
We are supposed to make the rules. And this is the hardest part. But who said that it’s easy to be a parent? It’s even harder to be a good parent. So, we have to do it.
Rule #1: you choose what they have to eat and they will decide how much of it they will eat.
Rule #2: give them a chance to choose (from what you’ve chosen for them). For example, you put two types of vegetables on the plate and allow them to pick one (it’s always nice for a person to have a choice, right?).
Rule #3: if your child refuses it, don’t get angry or upset. Stay calm and offer absolutely no food until next scheduled meal, only plain water.
Remember: you are doing it because you are a good parent, and because you know what your child needs.
This way, you break your child’s manipulative behavior. Choosing and refusing foods is a matter of controlling you, and you do not want to give your child that power.
We can always discuss the specifics of this issue when you come to see me.
If you have a picky eater, start working on it now. I will have many more types of manipulative behavior to discuss with you in future.
Photo credit:Flickr / aylwyn V.