Parents Can Use Strategies To Deal With Picky Eaters

Do you have a picky eater in your family? Often children go through periods of being particular about what they eat.
Parents Can Use Strategies To Deal With Picky Eaters - Articles
Parents Can Use Strategies To Deal With Picky Eaters

Having a picky eater can be challenging, but there are some things that parents can do to encourage kids to expand their food tastes and choices.

  • One of the most important things parents and caregivers can do are to be good role models. Kids observe and mimic adults so parents who eat a variety of food are modeling healthy eating habits for their children.
  • Avoid catering to the likes and dislikes of your children by making separate meals for them. Expect your picky eater to eat what the rest of the family eats. Offer the same foods to the whole family, but always serve at least one food that everyone will eat.
  • Also, eat dinner together as a family often. Eating together can encourage children to eat foods which they may not want to eat by themselves. Consider seating the picky eater beside someone who is a good eater, especially when you introduce a new food.
  • Prepare a wide variety of vegetables for your children to try. Expand their horizons beyond carrots, broccoli and celery sticks by experimenting with vegetables like cabbage, avocados, peppers and kale. The greater the variety of vegetables that kids try, the more likely they will like them.
  • Consider giving children choices for dinner. For example, ask if they prefer raw or cooked carrots for dinner. When children have choices, they feel as though they have some control over what they are eating.
  • Get your child involved. Allow your child to take part in the meal process at each step, from the grocery store to the kitchen table. Helping prepare meals is one of the best ways to get kids to try new foods and to eat what is good for them.
  • Remember that children need repeated exposure to new foods, about 8-10 times, before they will like or even try them. Encourage them to try a little bit of everything, even if it is just a small spoonful. Focus on providing a positive meal environment and offering a variety of foods, rather than forcing or bribing the child to eat. Also, introduce a new food with an old favorite. Children are more likely to try a new food if it is offered with one of their favorites.
  • Do not force kids to eat or to clean their plates. This makes mealtime a bad experience for both you and the child. Plus forcing a child to clean his plate can lead to overeating and weight issues.
  • Don't offer bribes like dessert to get kids to eat something they don't want. Research shows that bribery increases children's preference for the reward rather than for the food they are pressured to eat.
  • Parents can try these techniques to ease mealtime struggles with picky eaters. Even the fussiest eaters can be encouraged to try a few bites of new, different, nutritious foods at every meal.

Authors

Food, Families and Health: PROSPER

More by Karen Thomas