4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Feeding Picky Eaters - WeHaveKids - Family
Updated date:

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Feeding Picky Eaters


Kate is a homeschooling mom of four kids, ranging in age from six to 17.


There are some common mistakes parents tend to make when dealing with kids that are picky eaters. While it can be frustrating when your kids don't like half of the things you prepare, that does not mean you should just make them what they want or try to barter with them to eat certain foods.

Here are some common mistakes to try to avoid when dealing with a picky eater:

1. Making a Separate Meal For Picky Eaters

A very common mistake that is often made is making your kids a separate meal. You may do this because you love your kids and just want them to eat.

It is extremely tempting to make them a sandwich because they don't want to eat the chicken dinner you prepared, but this is only encouraging their picky eating habits. They know they can turn down anything they want since you will cook them something else they like better.

Stop being a short order cook and have a rule that they will eat what everyone else is eating when meal time comes.


2. Offering Dessert as a Reward

Many parents do find this to be helpful, but if you have been offering dessert as a reward for finishing a meal, you might want to re-think your approach.

There are certain ages where it might be a good option, but if your kids get into the habit of having dessert as a reward for eating their vegetables, they might stop eating them if you don't have dessert that night. This is where the main issue with bartering with your kids to eat comes in.

It also sends them the message that certain foods are inherently better than others, and you want them to learn to appreciate healthy foods too.

3. Forcing Your Kids to Eat Everything Before Leaving the Table

This is something that has been done for decades, but it is yet another bad habit you may want to consider breaking.

A better option might be to let your kids leave the table when they're finished eating, but not offer anything else in return.

Forcing your kids to eat by making them sit there and eat everything isn't always the best approach. They might challenge you by sitting there as long as possible, then feel like they "won" when it is bedtime and you finally let them get up.

This can cause their rebellious nature to kick in to high gear and see how much they can challenge you each night. Making the dinner table a battle field is never fun.

Don't force them to eat, but also don't let them eat anything else if they eat their dinner. Eventually, they will realize to have full bellies, they need to eat their vegetables too.


4. Not Including Them in the Meal Planning or Cooking

It is a great idea to include your kids more in the meal planning process. If there is a particular vegetable your son just can't stand, ask him what vegetables he does like.

Then be sure to include at least some of his preferred vegetables as often as possible. This will help ensure he eats his veggies and you'll have much fewer problems when dinner time comes around.

You Can Do This!

There's no doubt that having a child who is a picky eater can be very challenging. By continuing to try to stretch their food repertoire while trying to avoid these common mistakes, you can help your child develop healthier eating habits and avoid those meal time battles.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Kate Smith (author) from Canada on July 23, 2018:

That's amazing Martiya! The culinary class should be very helpful in getting him to be a bit more adventurous with his eating.

Martiya from Florida on July 22, 2018:

*sigh* yes, I have a very picky eater! Including him in the meal planning and cooking has helped. Even better, he actually asked to take culinary as an elective in school!

Related Articles


Picky Eaters: When to Worry about Your Child’s Nutrition

What is the difference between picky eating and a feeding problem? Learn the top ten signs that signal the need for medical investigation of picky eating in children.


How to Get Your Picky Eater to Eat

If your child is a picky eater and you don’t know how to get them to eat, here are some ways to combat their resistance without nagging or losing your cool.


How to Deal With a Picky Eater: Some Encouragement and Tips!

When toddlers and elementary school children are picky about their meals, it can be very challenging. Here, I'll present some encouragement and tips for getting some nutrition into those picky eaters!


8 Ways to Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Foods

Some children are born picky eaters but with some consistent effort, parents can successfully broaden their child's palate.


9 Common Parenting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Raising a child is a challenge, and it is easy to fall into bad habits. Here are nine common parenting mistakes that do more harm than good and what to do instead.


Is Your Child a Picky Eater? 10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

This article provide tips and ideas for getting your kids to eat more vegetables while avoiding mealtime power struggles.


9 Ways to Stop Your Child's Picky Eating Habits That Really Work!

You spend hours each week planning menus, shopping for food, and preparing home cooked meals for your family, only to have your child look at it and say "Gross!" Let's end that habit for good!

Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat, a Reading Rainbow book about picky eating, healthy foods, and nutrition

Gregory the Terrible Eater Book Review

Gregory the Terrible Eater, by Mitchell Sharmat, teaches principles of good nutrition in a humorous way. This article contains a review of the book and related activities for kids.


Answers to Common Questions Children Ask About Disability

A list of common questions children ask about people with disabilities and ways to answer those questions including advice and tips for how to talk about disabilities with kids.


Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

During pregnancy it's not just about what to eat: fresh vegetables, greens, fruits, beans & legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. It's also about what to avoid: alcohol, caffeinated drinks, junk food


Why Screen Time for Children Should be Avoided: An Educator's Point of View

Screen time is harmful to children because it hinders their healthy development in ways including movement, creativity and time sequencing. Learn about the downsides of screen time.


7 Food Ideas for Your Picky Toddler

The struggle of getting your toddler to eat healthy, let alone at all, is real! Let's talk about some menu options.


Chore Charts for Kids From Ages 4 - 12

Household chores can teach children valuable lessons: responsibility, the value of a dollar, and what it means to be a team player. By instilling these values in your child at a young age, you are helping them to succeed later on in life.


When Is Your Daughter Old Enough for a Manicure?

My daughter, now 5, wants to wear make-up and paint her nails, just like her Mama. My question is: When is she old enough to do it herself? Should a 5 year old really have painted nails?


What to Avoid During Pregnancy

Do you know what foods to avoid when you are pregnant? What about medications, exercises, or drinks? Learn what you should avoid during pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy.