Most parents go crazy thinking of ways to encourage their picky eaters to eat. There are kids that will whine, cry, throw tantrums or simply refuse to eat the food on their plates but give them mac n’ cheese or dinner roll and they’d finish the serving in no time at all!
After a long and tiring day, the last thing parents want to do is to wrestle and force their child to eat food that is good for them. Parents will easy become irate and frustrated when their kids refuse to eat the food that they have worked so hard to prepare. Is there a way for parents to get the kids to eat without forcing them?
When it comes to issues regarding food, parents should consider the real reason why the kid doesn’t want to eat. There are kids who have hyper sensitivity issues with food’s taste, texture, smell or color and their bodies react negatively when presented with certain kinds of food.
Your values and beliefs regarding food may also be a reason why power struggles during meal times happen. People who grew up with depression and economic crisis will teach kids and may even force them to finish everything on their plate. On the other hand, parents will just encourage kids to eat just enough and avoid overeating. Parents should be aware of these values and emotional connection with food to realize how much food their kids really need and for them to become less rigid during meal times.
To help encourage kids to try and eat the food you prepare, model to them how to enjoy food by talking about how good it taste and lessen the talk about how healthy it is. Parents should also learn to put small portions on their kid’s plate and just encourage them to get another serving if they finish their meal. This practice is opposed to how some parents put hearty servings of food which appears overwhelming for a child to eat. The less you force your kids to eat and model yourself by eating or discussing good food, your children will soon learn to regulate eating. And soon, there will be less power struggles and picky eaters during meal times.
“There are many children in the world who are starving because they have nothing to eat so you should be grateful to have nutritious food in your plate.” These were my lines almost every meal when RJ was still younger. She is now 9 years old and her likes and dislikes gradually change. I know that at her age, I can’t expect her to embrace a wide range of food most especially those with vegetables as I myself started to explore dishes and cuisines when I was already in college. Though there are still times she is fussy about some food, I am glad that as she grows she starts to like some vegetables.
Experts believe that babies have already developed taste buds at their 21st week on mother’s womb and as their bodies develop, so do their taste buds. However, based on research, children are more sensitive to certain tastes than adults thus they become picky eaters. Most children dislike food not just because of the taste but because of the texture, color and odor as well that is why they tend to dislike food in just a glance. So if you want your children to eat the food you prepare, how you present it is very important. Prepare variety of healthy food with very tempting presentation. If your children see the food as delicious and think they will like it, there’s a much better chance that they will.
Cute lunch boxes and accessories can also help to make the prepared meal looks delicious. You can buy most of these accessories on Japanese stores. Below are the examples of the packed lunch I prepare for RJ.
burger patties, buttered kernels and heart-shaped rice
star-shaped rice, fried spring rolls, boiled carrots, cucumber and hotdog (a little junk here)
fried chicken, cheese and cucumber rolled in ham and dip on a cute little container
meat loafs decorated with parsley and raisins
Making children’s food look appetizing is the best solution for your fussy children. Bribing, scolding or forcing them to eat will just give them negative eating experiences. Oh yes, a little creativity and time will be needed in preparing your children’s meals but it is all worth your time and effort when they come home with empty lunch boxes.