My son is enormously picky. He’s not just picky about things like broccoli and green beans, but he doesn’t even like ice cream. His picky habits aren’t exclusive to vegetables or proteins, they span the spectrum and include candy and treats too. If you have a picky eater then you no doubt have tried every trick in the book. My son is a food examiner. There is no sneaking anything into his food. He examines it and picks out the most minute particle of pepper or parsley and declares he doesn’t want to eat that! If you’ve ever rinsed your child’s chicken under the faucet to remove the “flavor” or scraped every last minuscule piece of green off their potatoes then you need to read this. I’ll share how to end the battle with your picky eater for good, and what works for us.
If you have a picky eater then I doubt you’ve never been ridiculed by friends, family members or other parents for how picky your child is. As if you could magically force them to like things that they refuse to even touch! If there is one thing that drives me crazy it is the shaming that my son receives from well intended (and some not so well intended) friends and family for being picky. It actually makes me angry. As a picky kid myself I can remember how badly I wished I liked everything so I didn’t have to request no sauce and no veggies and plain chicken when I went to my friend’s houses. I was embarrassed about it and my son is too. He actually came to me out of the blue one day and told me how he wished he liked all foods and why did God make him picky? He doesn’t like being picky!
With this in mind I knew that as parents we needed to change our approach to his picky eating habits. It wasn’t a rebellion or a power struggle. He simply didn’t like every food we put in front of him and that was okay. Wait, did you read that? Let me say it once more; that was okay. Guess what? It’s okay if your child doesn’t like everything.
My approach changed after my perspective changed. I was a picky kid and I’m not a picky adult. Some kids are picky. Some kids do it for a power struggle and others simply don’t like many foods. Remove the power struggle from the equation and allow your child to participate in the decisions.
You as the parent decide when to eat, what to serve, and where to serve it, and the child decides whether and how much to eat. We always have one food on the table that we know he will eat, like rice or fruit or bread, so all new, experimental foods are paired with familiar foods. Do not pressure your child to “just taste” anything or insisting on taking a certain number of bites. Don’t tie dessert to if or how much the child eats. Eat your dinner as a family so adults eat with kids, and your child sees you enjoying a healthy variety of food.
Serve your child their food with no pressure from you to eat what’s on the plate. Simply let them eat what they wish and they may have seconds of anything they wish. Now that you’ve removed the power struggle around the dinner table, your child is far more likely to actually taste new things without pressure, and perhaps even like them. It may take 20 times serving that broccoli before your child tries it but maybe on the 20th time they voluntarily take a bite and like it.
Don’t take on the role of short order cook. Make one meal for the family, including one item that your child likes, and that is it. You don’t make anything else and your child is free to eat what is on the table.
The six magic words that have saved our dinnertime are “You don’t have to eat it”. This removes all power struggles and creates a healthy attitude towards food. You don’t want food to become something he dreads or something he regards as a bad thing. You want to promote a healthy relationship with food.
This has worked surprisingly well for us and I’ve found that by removing the power struggle from the dinner table it has created a more peaceful evening for our whole family. Dinnertime is no longer a constant of nagging from me to the kids while I try to eat my cold dinner because I’ve been too preoccupied getting them to eat theirs. They eat until they are full and if they are hungry at bedtime then we discuss why they need to remember that and eat more at dinner. The next night at dinner we remind them to make sure they are full so their tummies aren’t hungry at bedtime. It works fantastically most nights and I find that my children voluntarily try more foods than they tried when I was forcing them to.
The last key to the circle of making this system work well is to remove the judgement placed on our children and us as parents for having a picky eater. I’m trying to dissipate my anger and instead gently share our system when people make snide remarks to me or my child about his eating habits. I hope you’ll join me in stopping the mommy wars and putting an end to judgement by sharing one thing you’d do to stop the mommy wars over on Similac’s Facebook page.
I’m happy to be a member of the Sisterhood of Motherhood where we strive to end the mommy wars! We recognize that parents all do things differently but we all have the same end goal, happy, healthy children. Hilary and Haylie Duff have joined us and we are excited to have them on board!
This video was put together by Similac, filming real parents talking about the real judgement that they experience. Let’s put an end to the mommy wars and unite with one another instead of dividing!
Put an end to judgement by sharing one thing you’d do to stop the mommy wars over on Similac’s Facebook page!