How To Stop Your Child From Being A Picky Eater

It happens to many parents. Our babies and toddlers eat a healthy diet and then all of a sudden we hear those words: “I don’t like vegetables!” I remember the first time I heard those words, I was a bit dumb-founded and was quick to reply “but you have been eating them for years.” It didn’t matter what I said, my young son was adamant he longer liked them. Just like that. Thankfully I found a way to overcome this challenge and was well prepared when his younger sister and brother made the same declaration.

A few years back I worked with a man who had three children, the oldest of whom was 7. He was telling me about the eating habits of his family. Every night he and his wife cooked four different meals. Each of his children got their own meal and then he and his wife cooked a separate one for themselves. He meant well and he told me it wouldn’t go on forever. When I asked him how he thought he was going to stop it, he told me he hadn’t thought about it.

Now while four meals every night is quite excessive there are many families in the country and around the global that cook different meals for different family members each night. And this can be causing more problems than solutions. Our kids form habits and patterns of behaviours at an early age. The longer it goes on the harder these habits are going to be to break. Besides cooking more than one meal every night will lose its attraction after a few years of doing it.

When we give our kids an “out” of eating something by cooking something else we are enforcing “picky” eating habits.

One of the things I discovered with the man I used to work with is that they also all ate at different times. If you want your child to stop being a picky eater, this is the first thing you want to change starting today. Families who eat together tend to have less picky eaters among them. The benefits of eating at the dinner table go far beyond this. It builds a sense of community and belonging which ultimately will increase your child’s self-esteem.

The second thing you want to do is to stop the multiple meals at dinner time. Everyone in the family eats the same thing. Parents and children eat the same. My kids and I eat the same meal every night. I never expect them to eat anything I wouldn’t eat myself. Now you might be saying to yourself my child won’t eat it. They simply will refuse. I know that I have been there with each of my children. What I learnt is that by not giving them an option about dinner stopped any picky eating habits. If they chose not to eat their dinner, fine they got a piece of fruit instead. You don’t have to worry about them going hungry, I have no doubt your child has had more than enough food in the day to get them through till morning. And trust me, if you follow through on this it won’t be long before your child will eat whatever is put in front of them.

Be creative with your kids. My eldest son loves cheese. So when it came to vegetables I let him put melted cheese on the top. We used to laugh and say he would eat anything if he could have cheese with it. Then one day, I served him vegetables without the cheese. When he asked for it, I told him I had run out. But he was in the habit of eating them so he ate the vegetables without the cheese. I didn’t completely stop giving him cheese but he got to a place when he didn’t have it all the time. Now he rarely has cheese on his veggies.

Thirdly get your children involved with cooking. Kids absolutely love eating food they have helped prepare. Even young children can help. They can stir and put things on plates. When they are involved they feel more connected to what they are eating, they want to try it and they feel proud of their achievements.

What’s incredible with these steps is that not only will you be stopping their picky eating ways, you will also be helping their self-esteem rocket. Eating as a family at the dinner table enforces their sense of belonging and love. Having them help cook gives them a sense of belonging and achievement. All of which helps boost their self-esteem and self-worth. How does it get any better than that?