Do a quick search of “picky eater” and you will discover parents are constantly stressing about picky eaters. But what if we didn’t? What if we served meals and let our children choose whether to eat it – or not? Is it ok, as a parent, to not make my kids eat?
I wish I could do that, but it just annoys me when he doesn’t eat. It bothers me that I (or my husband) cooked food and he refuses to even taste it. It gets under my skin that he claims he doesn’t like “anything.”
Providing nutritious food to my children feels like one of my main objectives as a parent, and because I am intrinsically motivated to complete objectives, I work hard to get them to eat.
I’ve tried these strategies:
1. One bite of each food based on your age. Simple math.
2. If there are 3 things on the plate you must finish two in order to do X activity after dinner. (Fractions are fun!)
3. You don’t have to eat what I cooked but I’m not cooking anything else. (The theory here is he’ll eat a better breakfast).
4. You don’t have to eat what I cooked and there is no dessert or “bedtime snack.” (Motivation. Or bribe.)
5. Reverse psychology! “I’m leaving the table, when I come back, all that food better be there!”
6. When you’re hungry later, I’ll re-heat this dinner for you.
Sometimes I just give up. Even though I feel like it’s my job to get him to eat, I know there is no end-of-the-year review of my performance.
Do you ever give up?