Dealing with a fussy eater can be very stressful – for the parent and the child. One one side, the child is refusing to eat for what could be a large variety of reasons and on the other side, the parents are getting more and more anxious, concerned and possibly angry. Mealtimes and experiencing food should be enjoyable times for the whole family – not a battleground where a stalemate is drawn each time.
I know exactly what this is like as I went through it with my first born son. Meal times became tension filled and unless he got the foods he liked, nothing would pass his lips. Being a parent is not easy and trying for months to get your child to try new foods or eat a little more of things that are good for them can take their toll on even the most patient person in the end.
Luckily, hindsight is an amazing thing and we can now look back on that time and see exactly what was happening and what we and he, were doing wrong. When you are “in the thick of it”, it is not always easy to spot the best way to tackle a problem and get your fussy eater eating.
The best tip I could give someone on how to feed your fussy child, is to stop.
Stop stressing, stop panicking, stop forcing them, stop imposing rules about amounts to be eaten and stop putting on the pressure.
The child will get used to associating meal times with problems and will certainly be affected by the thoughts of being forced to eat before they leave the table. This emotional stress can cause the whole issue to become much worse and end up with the situation spiralling out of control, rather than getting better. Although it may seem like the best idea at the time, putting pressure on your child to eat is possibly the worst thing you can do.
Try to relax and take a step back and look at what is happening. Imagine what it might look like if an unknown 3rd party was watching the situation. How are the parents reacting to their child not eating? Are they getting cross, shouting, using negative words or reinforcements to try to get them to eat? Or is the child just really not excited about eating carrots? There are many ways that the situation can be affected in an adverse way and taking a step back and letting each other “chill out” for a while is a good thing to do. Of course, there may be medical reasons why the child is not hungry or not eating and sometimes a doctor may be able to help identify these issues.
If the child is eating something, then encourage them to do so rather than punishing them for the foods they are not eating. Try to praise the good behaviour and ignore the unwanted or bad behaviour. Positive reinforcement is what is needed, not “well done for eating your carrots – but you left the greens and can’t get down until they are eaten!” type comments. Little by little is easier than changing their habits overnight. Add a small piece of food to their meal that they do not like to eat and praise them if they eat it. It might even be best not to mention it until they eat it, praising them relentlessly if they do.
My son is now 11 and we are worrying that he is eating too much, rather than too little. The time when he was a fussy eater will always be burned on our minds as a terrible and trying period in all of our lives. If I could go back and change how it was done, I would follow the tip I have given you above and I am sure it would have ended up much the same. For all the shouting, crying and demanding, we never made much headway with him eating foods he did not like or want to try.
Our second son started out as a marvellous eater but has reverted to being a fussy eater now that he is 8. The good thing is that his favorite food is fruit and vegetables – so no worries there!
Oh well. You can’t get it right all the time!
Source by Tao Schencks