Mealtime can turn into a time of frustration and despair when you have picky children. As a parent, you want your kid to eat well and consume the healthiest foods out there. However, they refuse to taste a piece of vegetable or fruit. Has this happened to you? If the answer is positive, then you have come to the right place. Here we bring you some very valuable tips on how to get picky children to eat. Keep reading this post to discover very useful information!
But, what is a picky child?
When we say that a child is "picky", especially talking about mealtime, we refer to a boy or girl who doesn't like to try certain types of foods or who refuses to eat specific things frequently. However, this is a bit subjective.
We could say that this is a typical stage in its development. Many toddlers (of 2 or 3 years) are usually pickier than others, and this is related to their growth stages. There are some who can even be considered neophobic, that is, completely resistant to trying something new.
On the other hand, there are many older children who are really picky as they are totally inflexible about food. In those cases, their parents' insistence on trying new foods can upset them or make them feel sad and stressed.
As you could see, you can cope with this regardless of your child's age, so knowing how to handle it is always incredibly helpful. So, what should you do about it? Well, the first thing we recommend is to avoid forcing them. Yelling at them "you must eat this" and punishing them if they don't can have really negative consequences. Be patient, take a deep breath, and follow these tips.
Top recommendations for parents of picky eaters.
- Change the way you see things
This is the most significant factor in this whole process. If you feel so much drained, then you should change your point of view regarding the situation. As we mentioned at the beginning, the different variations in children growth can alter their diet. Besides, there are emotional factors that also influence the way they eat.
When they change their attitude and become more independent, then they will want to decide how to eat and will be much more strict about food. Therefore, it is not recommended that you force them. Try to avoid yelling and pressuring your kids, or you risk getting results in the extreme unwanted.
- Set clear expectations.
Here it is essential to establish a communication relationship with your children. You can tell them to eat three pieces of a new food a week, or you can put a rule where everyone tries a non-preferred food at some point during the day. Once again, don't force it or get too upset. Just talk with your kids and clarify that this is something everyone will do.
Many parents believe that encouraging their children to eat something they don't like will lead to future problems, such as eating disorders, but research shows otherwise. Parents help children create healthy habits, and this is one of them.
- Adapt but don't give in.
You shouldn't turn into a monster that your child fears every time mealtime approaches. Contrary to this, you can be his adventure companion and guide him to try new things. If you adapt to the tastes of your children during meals, you can have better control of the situation.
Also, involving him in the kitchen can go a long way. You can try this: Take your children with you when you go shopping and ask them to choose a vegetable that they want to eat during the week (remember the previous recommendation). Then ask them to help you prepare lunch or dinner. You will see how they will get used to these practices and will better tolerate foods that they do not eat frequently. Also, try serving the food in creative ways!
- Offer rewards without fear.
There is nothing wrong with rewarding children when they meet a set goal! Furthermore, there is nothing negative about offering positive feedback when they do so. The same happens in the opposite case. It is not mistaken not to give them a reward when they do not meet the expectation. In both ways, you can show your child that you keep your word.
A common reward is usually the time they spend using their cell phone or computer. If your kids try an unusual food or vegetable they don't like, you can give them an extra half hour to play video games or watch TV. You will see that this will also motivate them to keep trying new options, which will lead them to realize that they are not as bad as they thought.
- Be their role model.
It is also very important to eat with your child when you offer them a new food. If you are not one of those people who eat vegetables frequently, for example, how do you expect your child to taste everything you put on the plate? You must show healthy eating habits that they can follow.
Several studies have shown that children of parents who follow a balanced diet tend to be less picky and consume much more fruits and vegetables than the average. This is not a coincidence. Remember that children tend to imitate adults at different stages of their growth, and eating is part of that.
Sounds easy now, right? And it really is. Once you understand what attitudes you should avoid and what practices favor it, you can help your children eat more of what they need. Keep in mind that everything is accomplished with patience and determination. Helping children change their eating habits takes time but is entirely possible. So, don't lose heart! Follow these tips and on how to get picky children to eat and change the complicated meal times for fun and enjoyable moments with your kids!