Kids’ eating habits are very important for parents and it is very frustrating to prepare food and find out your kids do not like it.
If you look at this issue from an emotional point of view, it has to do with control. Your kids are exercising control over what and when they eat, while you try to keep that control. Once you look at it this way, though, the solution is simple.
Here are some great things that will get your kids to eat well:
- Make the food together with them. Kids love to eat their own creations. You can get them to join in the fun of cooking from around the age of two. When they are younger, you can bring them closer to you and give them some of the ingredients or food to play with (pasta and dough are great) to make them feel connected and familiar with the food when it gets to the table.
- Make a list of the food they like and allow them to choose the menu, at least every few days. This will make them feel that you respect their choices and set a good example for them to respect the choices of others on the rest of the days.
- Remember that kids will typically not starve themselves. If they do not eat during dinner, they will look for something to eat later. Say to them, "We only eat what we have on the table", and make sure they have nothing else afterwards. After three or four times, they will understand you are serious.
- Kids who do not eat at dinnertime sometimes say, "I’m hungry", just before bedtime. Get your child’s plate off the table and do not compromise on an easy sandwich or a snack. If you do it enough times, they will look for another strategy.
- At the dinner table, leave your kids options to choose from. If they insist, remind them they can choose whatever they want from the food on the table.
- In some homes, the parents serve everyone their food. Give your kids control over their eating by allowing them to serve themselves from the variety on the table. At the beginning, they do not know how much to take, but if you give them time to practice, they will learn and find the right portions.
Kids use food as another way to find your limits. If you are consistent, they will eat well!