Are you finding that your child is rejecting food you’ve prepared? They’ll only eat a small amount? Or they’re spitting, pouching or throwing? Perhaps you’re finding mealtimes, stressful?
I’m going to share three tips that will help make mealtimes in your home more fun – for you and your children:
1) Before you call your child/children to the table, decide you’re going to enjoy the mealtime that’s coming up.
The meal is a chance for you and your child to be together and connect – whether you’re eating at the same time as them, or later on. A happy, light-hearted mood will help your child feel relaxed and get in touch with their appetite.
So, invite your child to the table with a smile, sit down with them and warmly offer them whatever you’ve prepared.
2) Offer your child food that they you know they enjoy at every meal.
This is really important. If you’re not sure about this idea, it might help to think of it like this: If you knew a grown-up guest only liked certain foods, you would definitely be sure to provide at least one of those foods, wouldn’t you? So I encourage you to have the same approach with your child.
Knowing there’ll always be food that they like on the table helps your child to feel welcome at the table. They’ll start the meal feeling positive and open.
Alongside the food they love, you can give them the opportunity to try more adventurous food as well, so that they can expand their repertoire. Have these foods available on the table as an invitation to try.
3) Finally, take a deep breath and let go – I mean really let go – of the following:
- whether your child eats at all;
- which foods your child chooses from the selection you have provided;
- how much they eat;
- in what order they eat the foods available.
Instead choose to trust your child.
Research published in 2006 by A.T. Galloway and others established the counterproductive effect of pressuring children at the table to eat or finish their food. Children who were pressured ate less and children who weren’t ate progressively more.
Giving children power over whether – and how much – they eat helps them become confident eaters.
Want to learn more? CLICK HERE to join my closed Facebook group Happy Parents Joyful Children, where we share strategies for mealtimes – and other issues that arise for parents with children under 7 years old.
Or if you’d like help now with mealtimes or other parenting concerns, CLICK HERE to book a free call to discuss my parenting coaching with me.
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