Most parents have to deal with their kids’ picky eating and it can be a big challenge for everyone involved. In addition to posing a threat to kids’ health, this issue usually leads to many conflicts in the family and can seriously damage the parent – child relationship. There are many children who are simply sensitive to food and you should always first check your kid has any food allergies or intolerances. If not, you can slowly start implementing some of these tricks and tips to change picky eating habits in your kids.
Set The Mood
Kids are sensitive and will most likely avoid a tense, uncomfortable situation where they are being forced to do something they don’t like. If having lunch feels like punishment, there will be more resistance. Try to set the mood for meals, make it light and fun, so that the kids are naturally drawn to the table, even without you inviting them. Play some music they like, decorate the table, make a festive atmosphere and make it the highlight of the day.
Kids eat better when they’re in a nice family setting, when everyone is chatting about their day and making jokes. Take time to talk to your kids during their mealtime, sit with them and talk about fun stuff. They will connect eating with safe and loving family time, and won’t stay focused on food. Try to avoid having any distractions around, like the phone, the internet or TV, focus on having a family meal together and make the most of it.
Decorate Their Food
Kids love playing with everything, and they will want to play with food too. While this can go awry, you can get there before they do. Creative kids’ plates have evolved into real food art. Use some good old tricks, like cutting toast in different shapes, making animals and faces from fruits and veggies, arranging food in such a way to make a picture of a flower or a tree, making a rainbow colored plate and so on. There are many parents out there who have dealt with picky eating creatively and your kid will quickly take to it.
Play Games And Give Rewards
You can set up games and competitions with rewards. This way, having lunch takes on a completely different dimension and their eye is usually on the prize. If you haven’t guessed it by now, the most desired reward is usually chocolate, and it can really serve as great motivation. Always firmly stick to any rules you set, no matter what. For example: setting a rule “there will be no chocolate if veggies are not eaten”, and having chocolate out in the open where they can see it, is a great technique. Don’t worry, chocolate is actually healthy when consumed in moderate amounts.
Keep The Pressure Out
It is important to keep the pressure out of the entire situation. You might have preferences about what your kid should eat, but they certainly won’t die of malnutrition if they don’t conform to them at once. So, try to control your frustration and manage stress. Make it a gradual transition: have something they like eating on offer, as well as some new food they haven’t tried yet. Role model food tasting for them, visibly and obviously enjoy it, come up with an interesting story to go along with new food.
Remember that eating right is a life skill just like anything else, and requires learning and training. Try to be patient with your kids, give them options and give them time.