If you have a picky eater at home, do not be worried because picky eaters are normal members of millions of households across the globe!
But why do we even have picky eaters? Is being picky a sign of disobedience? Basically, children are considered to be neophobic. This means that kids could easily become fearful of whatever is new to them such as food tastes or appearance. Since the majority of our children have this tendency to become picky eaters, a lot of parents would simply give in to their demands just to let them eat and never starve. But doing this could compromise not just our children’s health but also their behavioral development.
Here are six proven tips to solve your picky eater problems:
1. Involve your children in kitchen stuff.
Don’t we all agree that the kitchen is a dangerous place for kids? But that could only always be true if we never organize our kitchen stuff. Surely, you don’t cook your meals 24/7, right?
It is best for children to be involved during meal preparation so that they could also feel the excitement in whatever they have helped with. Maybe you could let them soak some veggies in a bowl of water? Or you could also let them drizzle some dressing over salad? You can actually involve them in almost everything except for the obviously dangerous activities such as when you are using the knife or when the fire is already turned on.
2. Show your creative side and experiment with fruits and vegetables.
Did you ever hear them say yuck over carrots or apples? Then what has been your initial response? Most parents would choose to keep the “yucky” vegetables or fruits out of their children’s eyes to prevent them from showing disgust over what has been prepared on the table.
But if you really want to let your kids eat a particular “yucky” food, then you better start normalizing the experience of eating such. A subtle way of doing this is by making different forms of one particular food and letting them try these. For example, if your kids don’t like simple boiled carrots, why don’t you mash them with butter, process them with burger patties, or make differently shaped carrot fries? Let your creativity fly during meal preparation.
3. Never consider mealtimes as power struggle.
One of the frequently forgotten facts in parenting is our children’s natural tendency for power struggles. The power struggle becomes evident once our children reach the toddler stage. It is during this time that you would often hear them say “no” to so many things including food.
Do not compete with your kids. The power struggle may seem real but you need to know that it is only part of their development as human beings. Never force a specific dish to your children because they could grow hating such meals. Instead, you can talk to them in a gentle and reassuring way about the beautiful things that they could get from eating what they may initially hate.
4. Model what you preach.
Cliché? Yes, but this cliché still remains relevant in daily parenting. If you want your children to eat vegetables, then eat the same thing as your kids on the table. A lot of parents force their children to eat something that they themselves don’t even want to eat. This can cause a lot of trouble and confusion to our kids because they don’t want strange stuff. They need familiarity, thus they need to see you eating the same thing that you ask them to taste.
5. Monitor your children’s eating habits, weight gain, and other body reactions.
Some picky eaters are unfortunately suffering from allergic reactions to certain foods while others are facing medical conditions. As parents, we all need to closely monitor our children’s body reaction to what we serve them. Do your kids suddenly feel itch after being exposed to peanuts or eggs? This may be a sign of food allergy.
It is also very important to keep a record of your children’s weight and appetite condition. If your children are losing significant weight and are almost always lethargic, then you better consult your pediatrician immediately. Some picky eater problems can be caused by certain medical conditions. Be sure to communicate such eating problems with a professional who can help you and your children.