There’s something paradoxical about picky eating. At the age when children are getting more adventurous and are enjoying exploring new things, when it comes to eating, it’s often just the opposite. Their interest in variety and the new actually shrinks.
This is what we call “picky eating”.
Are you finding this? As your child approaches two or two-and-a-half, she or he is starting to express very definite preferences. Best beloved broccoli becomes a no-no, for example. Some children actually end up eating very few foods at this stage. I’m thinking of a particular child who would only eat fruit-yoghurt and raisins.
Maybe your child has a broader diet than this. But you’d still like to see him or her eating a wider range of foods.
And you would like to know how to achieve this.
This is a big topic, which is related to all aspects of the care a child receives.
Today I am going to limit myself to four essential steps that will help.
- Make mealtimes joyful, convivial times in your child’s life.
- At each meal, always offer your child food that you know he or she likes.
- Offer other foods as well.
- Spend an enjoyable time connecting with your child while he or she eats, cultivating an attitude of non-attachment about which of the foods your child chooses or how much he or she eats.
All of these four steps are equally important in cultivating healthy eating habits.
Steps 1 and 4 are possibly the hardest as they involve adjusting your attitude. They involve letting go of all attempts to encourage, cajole or persuade. However much you know about healthy eating, however much you would like your child to eat more food, or more varied foods, you put these concerns aside.
In order for your child to develop a healthy relationship with food, he or she needs to connect with his or her own appetite and enjoy the meal.
Focussing your attention on your child’s healthy relationship with food – and not on the amount he or she eats or the nutrients you know to be there – may help you achieve this shift of attitude.
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