Coping With a Picky Eater: Tips and Tricks
By Rachel Shouse
It can be so irritating to hear, as it's not helpful, but kids are picky eaters. It offers no solution to the problem. Just try to take comfort in the fact that you're not alone and many others have been through this and are just fine. I have a cousin who didn't touch a vegetable as a child, except for corn, and still refuses to this day. He's a rather special case, but you get it. Studies actually show that as many as 50 percent of parents feel they have a picky eater. Believe it or not, getting your children involved in meal times is extremely helpful. It's also important that you don't shy away from new foods for your child.
Getting the Kids Involved
As you may know, kids love to help. They like to help clean, get brother or sister dressed, etc. Use this to your advantage. Ask them what they'd like to have for dinners for the week. They may say foods that you may not allow them to have. If that's the case, offer options. Not too many. Three choices are probably plenty.
Beyond meal planning, invite your children to shop with you. Have them help you find nearby items. If they're older, they could go grab items on their own. After the shopping, ask your child to make dinner with you. The effort they put into the meal can help motivate them to try it. Don't get frustrated if they still don't eat. Just keep trying.
Common Concerns About Picky Eating
Parents, particularly mothers, worry about their children's daily habits. Are they brushing their teeth? Did they wash their hair properly? The list is endless. Wondering what's causing your child to reject so many foods is completely normal. Worry is a part of life. In this instance though, worrying is probably unnecessary.
While picky eaters are frustrating, it's important that you don't engage in a power struggle with your child. You may not be able to force them to eat, but they can sit with the family until the meal is over. Setting small boundaries can help them, but being too strict is often unhelpful.
Have Your Child Continue to Try New Foods
In order to keep this from being a completely miserable experience, here are some tips on how to get your child to try new foods.
- Think about the textures of foods your child likes
- What flavors they favor
- Try sneaking small amounts of new flavors into their current diet
For example, try sneaking spinach into a smoothie. If color is a trigger -- it is for my 5-year-old -- use a cup that isn't see-through.
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