Children are picky and temperamental, which makes it hard to get them to do just about anything. At a certain age, kids simply start refusing to eat what you put on the table, or they start refusing to eat in general (unless it’s candy, of course.) As a parent, you become frustrated enough and you worry about their health that you may let them get away with eating anything, but this isn’t healthy for your child.
When you have a picky child, you need to employ the following tactics to get them to eat.
1. Stick to a schedule.
Children should eat about five times per day. Make a schedule for times when breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as two snacks will be served, and then stick to it. If your child’s diet stays on a schedule, they will be eating around the time they’re hungry, which will make them be less cranky. Plus, by sticking to a schedule, children will start becoming conformed to eating at certain times, and they’ll start to understand they either eat when it’s time to eat or they don’t eat at all.
2. Know what’s for dinner.
Not planning your dinner menu can be the worst thing for parents and children. If you don’t have a plan, you’ll be up to feeding them just about anything, and this isn’t a good idea. Instead, you should always try to plan dinner for a week in advance. This way, when your child asks you what’s for dinner, you have an answer.
3. Don’t exhaust yourself in the kitchen.
Children are going to be picky, but one way around it is to limit the options they have. Don’t make your child one separate dinner and make something else for the rest of the family. Instead, make one dinner and allow your child to pick which items he or she wants to consume. After a while, they’ll start becoming interested in more things on the table, and their palate will grow.
4. Don’t force it.
Your child is not going to starve themselves just to prove a point to you, but trying to force them to eat is only going to backfire. If you try and force vegetables, fruits or other foods down your child’s throat, it will only make them resist more. Children feed off the reaction of others, and if you stop forcing them to finish their plate, they’ll soon realize there’s no more excitement in fighting you over it, and they’ll start eating more on their own.
5. Try dipping sauces.
If your child has a problem eating vegetables, try adding ranch dressing or another form of dipping sauce. They may enjoy dipping the food so much that they actually start to eat their vegetables.
6. Make up stories.
If your child is refusing to eat a specific dish, tell them that their hero or idol eats that item. Even if you’re not telling the truth (because, honestly, who knows what Justin Bieber or Captain America eat), they’ll be more likely to eat whatever it is that their idols eat in order to be just like them.
7. Let them cook.
A child will be more willing to eat something they helped prepare. Ask your child to help you make dinner, even if it’s only mixing ingredients together, and they’ll be so shocked with how the whole process works and so proud that they took part in it that they’ll want to taste the end result. If your child constantly eats the items they help make, start bringing them into the kitchen more often.
8. Redo your grocery list.
Your children don’t shop for groceries, so if you stop providing junk food in the house, your children will be forced to eat better. Instead of cookies, opt for crackers. Instead of pudding, opt for yogurt. If you give your children less junk food options, they’ll start snacking on healthy things too.
9. Practice what you preach.
You can’t preach to your children to eat their fruits and vegetables if you don’t eat them either. You can’t tell your children to finish their plate if there are foods out there that you don’t like either. So before you start getting on them to eat specific foods, realize what you do. Children make decisions and take actions based on what they see. If they see you skip the yogurt and head straight for the ice cream, they’re more likely to do the same.
So before you let the frustration of your child take over, just remember that it’s a phase. It will end soon, and as long as you stick to your tips, you’ll find fighting over food becoming less and less difficult.
Jade Cook is a writer. She enjoys giving tips on fashion, relationships, cooking, and shopping. Jade recently wrote about her favorite recipe for salsbury steak.