Parenting

6 Things Never to Do to a Picky Eater

Julie Ryan Evans
29

boy eating

If you have a picky eater, you know how frustrating it can be to try and get your child to eat. You've probably sought out all sorts of advice about what you should do to expand his or her picky palette.

But what about what NOT to do? Sometimes, the very things meant to encourage eating, can have the opposite effect.

Here are six things NOT to do to when it comes to picky eaters:

  1. Bribe or ThreatenIt's tempting to offer something in exchange for her to clean her plate, but don't do it. Michelle May, MD, a family physician and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat says children should learn to follow their internal hunger cues rather than eat something just to get something else. "When we teach them about moderation and set a great example by living an active, healthy lifestyle, they'll be less likely to develop weight problems later in life," she said. 
  2. Be a Short-order Cook
    Sure they'd eat something if you gave them what they wanted every time, but it's not helpful in the long run. Nancy Tringali Piho, author of My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus; Raising Children Who Love to Eat EVERYTHING, says it's dinner, not a diner. "From earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating," she said.
  3. Resist Their Refusal
    Don't get sucked into an argument about their refusal to eat. Dr. Randy Cale of TerrificParenting.com says that can just exasperate things. "Instead, let them know that they do not have to eat what is on their plate or eat their meal," Cale states. "Also let them know that there will be no snacks, no treats available, and certainly no access to dessert, if this is an option after dinner."
  4. Force Them to Eat When They Aren't Hungry
    Experts at the Mayo Clinic says when it comes to kids and eating it's important to respect their appetite ... or lack of one. "Young children tend to eat only when they're hungry. If your child isn't hungry, don't force a meal or snack," they state. 
  5. Acknowledge Their "Yuck Face"
    Experts say repeatedly talking about what they will and won't eat or endlessly scolding them for making a "yuck face" will do more harm than good and stress you both out. As Dr. Bill Sears says, "Your job is simply to buy nutritious food, prepare it healthfully, and serve it creatively. The rest is up to your child."
  6. Forget Fun
    Sometimes a cute plate or a new creative sandwich shape can be the motivation your child needs to try something new. A few new dishes and a dose of creativity are small prices to pay for lifelong health eating habits.

Is your child a picky eater? Do you do any of these things?


Image via sstepph/CafeMom

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