Picky eater

“Remember, this is a power struggle”

“My child refuses to eat! Help!”

This seems to be quite a common complaint for parents of toddlers, yet it can cause parents a lot of stress. The immediate reaction is to 1) punish the child and force him to eat, 2) give-in and give him what he wants because you’re afraid of him going to bed hungry.

Here are some tips on feeding a picky toddler:

  • Eat around the table together and make eating time an enjoyable time
  • Try different food together and make it fun. Cut fruit or sandwiches into fun shapes, for example.
  • Remember, this is a power struggle, so try to control your anxiety over the situation. Your child will never starve himself – only offer what is on the plate at eating time.
  • Don’t offer treats after eating time or rewards for finishing what is offered on his plate
  • If you must offer an alternative to what is offered on the plate, offer something very unappealing, such as a piece of dry bread, for example.

The most important thing to remember is to be consistent – don’t say your child must eat what is on his plate one night and then give-in the next. This will confuse your child and make the process more difficult for you in the end.

Most of the time, children who experience eating issues are children who are going through difficult changes at home. Changes such as divorce, separation, a new sibling or a new marriage may affect your child and may cause them to feel a loss of control over their life. Children, especially toddlers, cannot communicate how they feel adequately because they don’t understand their feelings or they don’t yet have the sufficient vocabulary. As a result, toddlers will often try to control their surroundings through their toilet or eating habits. For this reason, try to understand the hidden messages your child is sending you and try to deal with the causes, rather than just the symptoms.

Play therapy assists children with issues such as divorce, parental separation, moving, change of schools, loss or a new sibling, for example.