8 Strategies for Picky Eaters: End the Mealtime Battles for Good
1. Let Go of the Labels
The truth is when we label our kids’ eating habits we cause problems.
Labeling your child’s mealtime habits will continue being resistant during mealtime. This will also unintentionally rob your child of the chance of accepting and enjoying new foods.
On the other side – using positive labels also creates more problems than solving them. When you label one child a “good eater”, his sibling can assume he’s the “bad eater”. That will set up an environment for sibling rivalry to thrive. The bottom line is this: avoid labels, positive or negative.
2. Take Control of the Pantry
Getting kids to make healthy food choices can be tough, but remember – YOU BUY THE GROCERIES. If a child eats the majority of their food at home (which most kids do), you must not forget who’s stocking the shelves.
If your kid is leaves most of his food on his plate – close the pantry (and fridge) at least an hour or two before mealtime.
This change will not be easy. Remember, you cannot control what your kid puts in his mouth, but you can control the option he has to choose from.
3. Don’t Go to War
If you don’t want mealtime to be a battle, then don’t make it one. As a parent, your job is to plan and execute healthy meals for your kids. When you include at least one healthy item you know your child will eat, you’ve done your job.
Your good intentions will open the door for an ongoing power struggle around food.
Your response during mealtime can cause your little one anxiety and manipulative behavior. The more anxious you’ll be – the more anxious and manipulative your child will be.
When it comes to mealtime – Stay neutral and don’t pick sides.
If you stay out of the fight, mealtime will be more enjoyable than you ever imagined
4. Don’t Make Food a Reward
How many times have you heard the sentence “If you eat your vegetables, you’ll get dessert?”. Food is something to enjoy and not something to bargain with.
When you hold up dessert as a prize for eating something your kid doesn’t like – that’s what kids will crave! Furthermore, it doesn’t teach a child healthy eating habits.
5. Variety is the Spice of Life
Variety is the key to tackling the picky eaters in your home. One simple strategy to demilitarize your dining room table is mixing up your meals. Challenge yourself to plan a different lunch and dinner every day of the week.
Mixing up your kid’s meal will keep him on his toes and break his habits of expecting certain foods.
If your kid will eat the same food for three days in a row for lunch, he’ll want to keep this routine going. It’ll make it harder for him to let it go for a different food.
6. Offer Some Choice
When you give your child some control over what he eats, you diffuse potential mealtime battles. By giving your kids a choice, he’ll be more agreeable in when he doesn’t have a choice.
7. Try, Try Again
Don’t write off a type of food because of one bad experience. Your kid taste buds regenerates every ten days to two weeks. That means that just because you’r kid dislikes something today, it doesn’t mean it won’t end up being his favorite food.
When serve your kid a once-disliked food for another go, don’t attach any previous emotions to it. Encourage your kid to keep tasting and trying – over time they might actually like it!
8. Make Meals an “All In” Experience
Meals become more fun and engaging when everyone the whole family takes part in it. When everyone is in, kids are less likely to pick a fit over the finished product.
Also, by including everyone in the prep work, mealtime should be a family affair. Turn off the TV and electronics so everyone can eat together.
When families share a meal, it becomes less about the food and more about the feeling of togetherness. Look at your dining room table as a place where the family gets the chance to share experiences and have quality time. By doing this, you’ll be well on your way to a happier and battle free meals together.