November 3, 2011

Picky Eaters: Parenting Tips for Picky Children

Do you have picky eaters at home? Do you think your preschool child eats only hot dogs and he does not want to try other food? Would he prefer to play around than to eat good food? Parents don’t need to get frustrated with their children who are picky eaters.  In order to avoid consistent struggles, parents can provide great help to their child and family.

There’s no need to be worried about what your child doesn’t want to eat.  Don’t take things seriously because you are not alone.  There are many children who are picky eaters but you can do something to make them driven and eat good food.

1.  Understand your child’s lack of food desire.  Never force a child to eat his snack or dinner if you think he does not feel hungry.  Avoid bribing him either with money or anything just to eat all the food in his plate.  Probably, this may only result to a more difficult fight between you and your child.  Worse, your child might develop a feeling of frustration or anxiety.  Do not overwhelm the picky eaters.  Try serving little food portions only.  Most importantly, provide an opportunity for picky eaters to demand for second serving if they want to eat more.

2.  Keep the regular eating time. Serve the food every day within a fixed time schedule.  If snack is served at 3:00 p.m. and dinner is 7:00 p.m., then stick to it.  Don’t change the routine time to eat for picky eaters.  Give milk or juice together with the food; but give only water between snack and dinner time.  If the child drinks juice and milk the entire day, he will lose the appetite when it is time for dinner.

3.  Be patient with strange food.  Picky eaters would always react to the smell or appearance of a new dish.  Instead of eating, they may taste a little of it and then drop it out of their mouth when they dislike the taste.  The trick here is to expose frequently the new food.  It takes several days before picky eaters begin to the food.  Entice him to eat by describing the goodness of the color, shape, smell, texture—not the seemingly bad taste.  For picky eaters, a new food is not acceptable until they become used to it. 

4.  Make the new food look exciting.  Serve veggies, fruits, and broccoli with the child’s favorite sauce.  Using a designed cutter for cookies, you can slice the food in different forms and shapes.  Serve bright-colored food.  Make the new food physically delicious and attractive to picky eaters.
5.  Seek for the help of your child.  When buying in a grocery store, ask your child to choose what vegetables, fruits, and nutritious food to get.  Never purchase food he does not want to eat.  When it’s time to prepare the food, tell her to join you in cutting, rinsing, and cooking.  Ask her to set the table so she could eat the food both of you have prepared. You can always encourage picky eaters to eat the food they cook.
6.  Don’t serve another food.  Children become more picky eaters if you prepare another food for them.  If the child refuses to eat the served food, motivate your child to stay and not to leave the table.  Serve again the food several times for the next few days until the child becomes accustomed with the new food.
7.  See a doctor.  Just in case the developing growth of the picky eaters is compromised, then see a doctor.  Take into consideration the last 3 days of your child’s food intake and its amount.  This may help in easing anxieties.  In addition, a record of your child’s food will help the doctor to identify any problem. 
Bear in mind that it takes time to change the eating habit of picky eaters. It’s not an overnight process. However, the steps you take every day are little successes in stimulating a healthy eating habit for picky eaters. 

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Picky Eaters: Parenting Tips for Picky Children  is a post on Modern Parenting Tips: Styles & Approach to Train & Discipline Children

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