Parenting: Dealing with a Fussy Eater

Parenting: Dealing with a Fussy Eater

Although you might eat all types of food, as might the rest of your family, it can become quite problematic if one of your children is fairly fussy when it comes to mealtimes. Many parents find it incredibly frustrating to try and find a combination of foods that their child will eat, especially when that involves cooking different meals each and every day. Instead, you may want to try and find ways to help your child to become more adventurous with their meal choices, as well as to try and allow them some autonomy regarding what foods you all eat.

Create a Menu

Working alongside your child, you can try and find recipes that you will all love. These can incorporate some of all your favorite foods, as well as nutritional content. Making this a craft activity may help your child to engage a bit more with the decisions. You could also opt to use ink jet cartridges and print out your customized meals, to form a recipe book of meals that your whole family can enjoy. Adding the craft element may also help your child to become more willing to try the foods that they themselves have helped to choose, or simply thought looked nice from the pictures available online.

Use Positive Reinforcement

While it can be tempting to scold your child for being difficult at mealtimes, this may actually cause more problems than it solves. Instead, using forms of positive reinforcement can help them to see what types of behaviour are more likely to lead to a good outcome, such as a reward, praise, or even allowance. It is important to not use food within the positive reinforcement, as this can further generate the thought that sweets and junk food, including fast food, are good, and that vegetables and fruit do not have any real positive connotations attached to them.

Reduce Snacks

Young children in particular may enjoy having snacks throughout the day in between their standard meals. While these can be incredibly useful, they may also be contributing towards the fussiness. If a child is allowed to fill up on snacks through the course of the day, there is less incentive for them to eat regular meals, because they know they can just have the items they really like outside of these periods. If you find that your child is becoming fussier, either reduce the number of snacks they have throughout the day, or consider swapping those items for healthier foods, such as fruit and vegetables, or even incorporating foods that they claim to dislike as a way of helping your child to want to eat them.

It is important to differentiate between a picky eater who is simply picking and choosing what they will and won’t eat, and one who may have a sensory or learning issue, as an example, that affects the way they perceive food. If in doubt, it is always better to speak to your child’s physician to rule out any medical possibilities that might be causing their aversion to certain foods.