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Kids Eating Habits: How to Help a Picky Eater

Updated on July 9, 2015
Picky eaters often refuse to try new things
Picky eaters often refuse to try new things

Do You Have a Picky Eater

How would you describe a picky eater?

  • Someone who doesn’t like to try new foods
  • Someone who is very selective in their food choices
  • Someone who chooses to eat the same thing everyday

Do any of those describe your child? Trying to get your child to eat different foods can be frustrating. Children who are termed “picky eaters” are quite adamant about refusing to try new foods, so it takes patience on the part of the parents. Some children take their time when it comes to eating new things, so it takes a lot of endurance to help your little one to see that there is an array of delicious foods out there.

Help for the Picky Eater

Instead of trying to force your child to eat something that they aren’t interested in, allow them the opportunity to sample it and try it if they like. After all, as adults, we do the same thing. We don’t necessarily eat foods that don’t interest us. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we simply throw our hands up and think “if they don’t want to eat their vegetables then they don’t have too”. Eating and getting enough of the right foods is essential to a child having a healthy diet.

To spark their interest in trying different foods, allow them to cook in the kitchen with you. Most children enjoy being able to help prepare a meal with mom or dad. Knowing that they help prepare the meal may nudge them to give it a try, even it is just a little nibble.

You can also try giving them a choice. Perhaps your child is stuck on eating nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches. Well, perhaps you can give them a choice of PB&J or ham and cheese. Then, as a side item, you can include something that you know they really like. This way they will feel in control of their decision and have something included that already appeals to them.

Avoid Rewarding Unwanted Behavior

When children don’t want to do what they are told, it is all too easy to try and resolve the matter with bribery. Bribing a child with some type of reward to eat their food does not help nor does it get to the root of the problem. It may help at that moment, however, that is only temporary and it leaves you having to still deal with the same problem at a later time.

Watch Your Facial Expressions

You want to be aware of your own example. Children naturally mimic their parents. Therefore, if you often try new foods and give the impression that they are distasteful or nasty, then your child may pick up that same behavior and associate new foods with being nasty.

Cook Something Else

It there is a particular food that your child just really seems to dislike, it may be best not to serve it. Expecting your child to eat will only frustrate you and your little one. Dinner time should be an enjoyable part of the day for everyone. Fighting and fussing over food, will make dinner time a dreadful meal (or any meal) to time to take part in.

Health Concerns

Most experts agree that it is normal for children to be selective or picky about what foods they will eat. However, there is a limit or line that has to be drawn in the matter of what is healthy and what is not. What is normal and what is not. If your child refuses to eat because of anxiety issues or if as a parent you know or feel that there is another underlying problem, then it is best to seek the help of a medical professional.

Children who have more serious issues with eating can become deficient and lack the proper nutrients they need and if left unchecked, they are at risk of other health issue on into their adulthood.

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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I'm going to send this hub to my daughter. My grandkids eat nothing but mac and cheese at 6 and 9. But then, I don't think my own toddlers ate anything with enthusiasm after breast milk.

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