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Pickiness is perfectly normal for young children, at least to a certain extent. This makes sense, as they are trying new flavors, textures, and tastes all the time. Research suggests that twenty percent of children are picky about what they eat, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to handle your kids when they’re refusing the food you’ve slaved over!
With the next semester starting, you may be looking for your children to respond better to your homeschool meals, or you could be trying to get over dinnertime hurdles. The following tips are easy to apply, though they take some training, and should see mealtimes become a pleasure rather than a fussy eating nightmare!
In This Post:
Tip 1: ‘Yucky’ Foods
If your little cherub turns its nose up at broccoli or cabbage, don’t just stop serving it. They need high-calorie foods because they’re growing so quickly, and tastes change as you age, with children naturally preferring sweeter foods. For the foods they say they don’t want, try serving them in different ways (such as a purée or a soup), mixed with other healthy goodness.
Tip 2: ‘I’m Full!’
After age 2, children’s growth tends to start to slow down, so they won’t need to eat as regularly. If your child is regularly complaining of not being hungry at mealtimes, the way to handle this is to make sure that you stick to a regular routine of three meals a day. Snacks are okay, as long as they are within the routine (i.e., a daily morning and afternoon snack).
Tip 3: Who’s the Boss?
Lots of toddlers – and older children too – want to assert their independence, and that can manifest in them refusing certain foods. Whatever you do, don’t turn mealtimes into arguments because of this. That may put them off that item of food for life. Instead, talk to them about the benefits of the food they’re refusing and then let them make their own decision. For example, tell them how eating their green beans will help them gain the strength to achieve their goal of getting on the school football team.
Tip 4: Get in the Habit
It’s important to develop healthy eating habits with your children. This includes ensuring that distractions – such as TVs, mobile phones, games consoles, etc. – are powered off during mealtimes. Also, offer foods in an optional format; for example, serve noodles, soy sauce, chicken, and vegetables separately in large dishes from which everyone in the family can serve themselves. Finally, if you let your children help you with preparing the food, and you explain the benefits of everything you’re doing and eating in the process, they are less likely to be picky about it afterwards as they’ll have some pride in the meal.
Tip 5: Be a Role Model
You can’t complain about your child being picky if you’re refusing to eat Brussels sprouts yourself! Most children follow their parents’ example, so show them the way by experimenting with new foods on your plate.
In rare cases, it may be that your child has a medical condition preventing them from being able to digest or process certain foods, rather than them being picky. If they have stomach upsets or complain of becoming itchy when they eat the things they’re being picky about, you should take them to a pediatrician.