The Dreaded Dinnertime Routine
Dinnertime is often one of the most frustrating events in a mom’s life. If you haven’t experienced the nightmare of a picky eater, then kudos to you. You are my hero and I want to know all your secrets!
More often than not, moms everywhere have heard the words, “that’s yucky” or “I don’t like that”.
So what do you do when your kid is a picky eater? Here are some common answers to that question:
- You make him something he likes while everyone else eats the dinner you made.
- You beg and plead and bribe and threaten.
- You hide in your closet with a pillow over your head while your kid screams his head off at the kitchen table.
- You shrug your shoulders and say, “Ok, go to bed hungry then.”
Which one resonates most with you? At some point or another, I have done all of these things, maybe even all on the same night!
Let me assure you though, your job as a mom is to provide the what, where, and when for feeding, and it is your child’s responsibility to choose how much and what they eat from what you served them.
Stay with me…
According to Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility, when you do your job with feeding, your child will do their job with eating. I know, it sounds so much easier said than done. I actually looked up whether or not Ms. Satter had children when I studied this in school because it definitely didn’t sound like the advice of someone with a child who would rather sleep at the dinner table than take a bite of his broccoli!
Providing structure at mealtimes (what, when, and where) is the backbone of the division of responsibility. You set the stage and then let them do their part. You want your child to eat what you eat, and believe it or not, they will…eventually.
Here are some of tips for handling picky eaters:
- Make meals enjoyable by serving foods you know they will eat and introducing a new food alongside that comfort food. Don’t stress yourself out by worrying if they are eating their meal. Enjoy your own meal and TRUST YOUR CHILD.
- Even if they refuse to eat what you have put in front of them, have them smell it, feel it, and talk about it with them. Do more than focus on the taste of the food.
- Don’t force them to eat a certain number of bites. We are born with the innate ability to determine hunger and satiety. Let them be in control of how much they eat and what they eat from their plate.
- Get them involved (as much as possible). Have your child pick out a new food from the grocery store. Depending on your child’s age, pick an easy task for them to do to prepare the food item.
- DON’T GIVE UP! It’s easy to throw in the towel when your child sits at the table screaming and having a meltdown. As long as you put something on their plate you know they will eat along with other healthy food options, don’t stress about how much they ate. It can take up to a dozen times for a child to try a new food, sometimes longer than that. Keep trying!
Trust me on this. I have been through it with my own children. My youngest son tapped me on the shoulder one day and asked me if we could go to the grocery store to buy some snap peas. I had never even thought to serve him snap peas! I was so excited that we went to the store that very moment.
I asked him where he had learned about snap peas, and his response was, “The Axel and Daddy Show on YouTube kids”. I’m dead serious. He now eats snap peas because a 5 year-old kid tried it on his YouTube channel and said it was good. The moral of the story is, if all else fails, let your kid watch the Axel and Daddy Show. Kidding!
One a serious note, I can say using this method to feed my children took a lot of patience and dedication. I’m not a patient person, so it took a lot for me to make it through the past 15.5 years.
My kids are great eaters now, I’m not a short order cook, and mealtimes are now a time we enjoy as a family.