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!