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Avoid Power Struggles and Picky Eaters

Did you know that eating is one area of development that children will learn the quickest? What does this mean for you? Healthy eating habits have to begin early! Eating is the first area in which they develop their sense of freedom. How much should you give them? What effects will your decision have? This article is all about curing the picky eater and putting a stop to those power struggles and the dinner table. Also, you will learn how to teach your children to love healthy food just as much as dessert!
 

Problems with Power Struggles?

Have you ever caught yourself saying, "If you eat three more bites, you can have a cookie," or even threatening them with a punishment if they don;t finish their peas? Unfortunately, these tricks don't pay off in the long run. Threats only encourage power struggles. Your children (like most of us adults) will begin to have the mindset that regular meals are not as good as dessert and that dessert is the only way to go!

What strategies should you use then?

  • Give your children a variety of healthy choices and vegetables so they can find the ones they like and hopefully make a habit out of eating them!
  • Remember to serve right-sized portions.
  • Try having family meals together as often as possible. With your busy schedule this might be tricky, but you will be surprised how beneficial that half hour together can be for your children!
     

"I Don't Want That!"- How to Stop the Picky Eater Syndrome

It's important to understand that children between the ages of 2 and 5 usually come off picky and that is natural for them. Trying foods that are contrary to their regular diet scares them! How do you get around feeding them macaroni and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because it,s the only thing you can get them to eat?

First of all, children will not starve themselves. Eventually they will become hungry enough to eat whatever it is you have cooked. The trick is to not give in before they get to that point! Your children will learn to be more flexible when it comes to food, rather than go hungry. If you don't accommodate their unhealthy eating habits, the habits won't last long!

Encourage them to try new foods. If your children don't accept the odd looking green beans the first time don't become discouraged. Keep slipping them onto your children's plates and eventually they will try them and most likely enjoy them! Everyone has different likes and dislikes but that doesn't mean your child should be limited to one food day in and day out.
 

How to Go From "Can I Be Excused?" to "Can I Have More!" (Even Though it's Healthy!)

Surprisingly enough, food preference for 2 and 3 year old children is mainly determined and related to foods that their mothers liked, disliked, or have never tried. So even if you aren't excited about fruits and vegetables, try your best to be! Your children will pick up on it and be motivated to eat healthier foods as well.

What is the one thing you love to eat or that you are always craving? Does it happen to be the same thing you have told yourself you won't eat or drink? Well, turns out this is also true with children. Forbidding a child to eat a certain food will actually increase their desirability for it. So try to help your child to understand that fruits and vegetables are "all the time foods" that they can eat all of the time and desserts and candy are "sometimes foods" that are saved for every now and then.

To help you keep from feeling like you have failed if your children eat a cookie every now and then, focus your attention on what your children eat over time. Going to the movies and having popcorn or going to grandma's house and having ice cream give your children some pleasure in life. Just keep a respectable balance as to how much that comes into play with their diet. Your children will be fine if they eat smart foods the majority of the time and engage in regular physical activity.

 

 

Resources:
http://www.parents.com/kids/nutrition/healthy-eating/get-your-kids-to-eat-better/
http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/toddler_meals.html
http://www.pbs.org/parents/special/article-nutrition-picky.html