One of the most common parenting woes often revolves around the relationship between a child and their food – AKA picky eating. For seasoned parents, we know this dinner time battle all too well. Gentle nudges of “Just try one bite for mommy” can turn into “Fine then no dessert this week.” It’s very easy to feel defeated by your child’s insistence to eat only treats and PB&J sandwiches. Meal times should be a time to enjoy each other, not fight.
Assuming your child doesn’t have any special needs and their picky eating is a part of a child’s typical development, here are some tips that may reduce power struggles surrounding food:
- Stay positive. Focus on what your child DID do versus what they didn’t do. Did your child put a new food in their mouth? Praise them even if they didn’t swallow it.
- Take baby steps. Focus on one meal or one snack throughout the day and try to make a little bit of progress. Did your child previously reject food they didn’t like even being on their plate? A good starting point could be to get your child used to the idea of the food being there without forcing them to try it.
- Involve your kiddos. If you have your child help prepare meals and snacks they may be more willing to try their creation.
- Make it fun! Encourage your child to dip their foods in sauces and dips. Cut their food into shapes or arrange their food in fun patterns.
- Be creative. One way to get your child to eat healthy foods is by “sneaking” it into their diet. You can hide veggies like carrots and zucchini in muffins. Or you can blend peppers, onion, or garlic into spaghetti sauces.
At the end of the day, remember this: It’s the parent’s job to offer healthy foods to their children and it’s the child’s job to learn to choose how much and what they eat.