Our son is a picky eater and it causes problems at the dinner table. My husband insists that he eat everything on his plate and cannot get up from the table until the whole family is through eating. Please help a frustrated mom.
Dear Frustrated Mom:
Picky eaters get that way for a variety of reasons. Some kids are just more sensitive to taste, smell and texture. Being obstinate about trying new foods is more likely to occur when parents bribe, reward or make a big deal about what or how much is being consumed. See http://www.DisciplineYesPunishNo.com for more information about guiding kids to better behavior.
If your family keeps healthy food around for snacks and makes an effort to have well balanced meals, your son will be fine. If you can see that he is over-weight, under-weight or lacks energy, then talk to your pediatrician.
There are so many lessons that are learned at the dinner table, food is almost the least important. Studies show that families who enjoy dinner together on a regular basis do better in school and stay out of trouble more than kids who eat on an individual basis. The key in that last sentence is enjoy.
Here are three ideas that might help keep dinner time more enjoyable:
- Talk privately with your husband and get him to “ease up” on the clean plate club. This type of discipline becomes a power struggle and no one wins. See if you can compromise by going along with staying at the table and having friendly conversation (not lecturing) together.
- If the quantity of food is overwhelming, try serving smaller portions. The better lesson to teach is “eat until you are full, and then stop eating.” Our guideline was everyone had to eat at least three bites of each dish just to be polite.
- Ask your son to help prepare the meals. If he can assist in the meal planning and preparation, he is more likely to eat it. Meal preparation and cleanup can be a really important time for connection and conversation.
Most children go through growth spurts where they are ravenous or may not be hungry. Just make sure your child has plenty of options to choose from in healthy snacks and meals during the day and don’t worry so much. Don’t allow any of the family to fill up on empty calories.
His tastes will change as he matures too. My husband did not like casseroles until we married and now he loves them.
“Auntie Artichoke” is a honorary title given to Judy Helm Wright, author and motivational speaker. Auntie means a wise woman who loves unconditionally. You will want to claim your free eBook on Using Encouraging Words at http://www.AskAuntieArtichoke.com