When there’s too much attention on what and how much your child is eating, you are invariably giving “the power of not eating” to your child. While we agree that having a fussy eater on hand is not an easy task by any measure, sometimes all we have to do is take attention away from fuss. Yes! That’s it.
Truth is, you can’t make children unfussy, or miraculously make them start loving a particular food group they earlier despised. If you use threats, commands, bribes, etc it will make matters even worse for you in the long run. Using the above mentioned tactics shows your child how much you care. It gives them something to use against you. In fact, sometimes they can be so impish as to refuse food even when they like it a little.
The Unique Way Ahead
Avoid using the following sentences and you will definitely see results in a few weeks. And in these weeks, don’t fret too much about your child starving. No child is ever known to starve himself or herself.
1. “You’re supposed to finish the peas as well”
If everything else on the plate is finished with only untouched pieces of vegetables remaining, let it go. Resist the urge to tell them to finish up the peas. Chances are, that even if you do ask them to, they are not going to eat it. Don’t give them the power to say “no”. Just generally ask them if they intend to finish the peas in the end and accept their answer.
2. “No ice-cream if you don’t finish dinner”
This is a veiled threat. It also tells your child that you acknowledge the fact that ice-creams and desserts are more enjoyable than savoury options. Don’t make the vegetables the bad person. Don’t make eating them a chore by putting conditions. It shows your desperation to the child and makes a good setting for a battleground.
3. “You won’t grow big and strong of you don’t eat this”
Kids do need to understand that eating healthy food is good for them. But save the nutrition lessons for later. Dining table isn’t the right place for it. Save it for when they are not eating and are more relaxed and open to what you have to say. After a few times like these, don’t be surprised when your child says, “Mommy, I must eat peas to grow strong, see how I eat them!”
4. “Peas are so yummy! Mummy loves eating them”
The moment you say it, it loses its efficacy. If you are role modeling by eating healthy in front of your kids, kudos to you! But don’t drill it in. Let it work its magic by osmosis and observation.
5. “But you always liked this!”
You can’t win either ways. If they liked carrots all along and now refuse to eat them, reminding them that they used to like it isn’t going to make them budge. In fact it will push carrots in a “never going to eat it” category forever. Keep a straight face and resist any urge to point out this sudden change to your child. Chances are he/she will come back to liking and eating carrots pretty soon.
Finally, kids are naturally curious about food, about how it tastes and looks. Remember how they want to dip their fingers in sauces to taste it?
Keep making a variety of food and offering it to them whether or not they eat it, eventually they will. Don’t force-feed even when your child decides not to eat something even before tasting it.