Episode 057: Picky Eaters. The Do’s and the Don’ts

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Manage episode 202302541 series 2135895
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It's a new month and that means a new monthly topic. This monthly we are going to talk about Tough Times of the Day and solutions to better handle those. We start the discussion with mealtime. I think that EVERY parent out there has a picky eater in their house, a child that exclusively wants pizza or mac-n-cheese. If you are one of those parents, you are in for a treat (pun intended) CMHC Mike Fitch teaches us his do's and don'ts with picky eaters. Here's the thing, Mike has a child with cerebral palsy, which makes eating very difficult. He has had to receive extensive training on the do's and don'ts for picky eaters and is truly an expert on this topic. LISTEN ABOVE OR READ THE SUMMARY BELOW I really appreciate Mike taking the time to teach us the do's and don'ts of picky eating. Here's what he has to share: DO be aware that there are two categories of picky eaters: A child that has an underlying medical issue that genuinely affects their feelings towards foods. Some examples are: A child with OCD A child with sensory processing disorder A child with a physical issue such as cerebral palsy A child with food anxieities A "typical" child that just doesn't want to try new foods They next do's and don'ts are for the typical child that doesn't want to try new foods. To learn more about the child that might have a medical disorder, scroll to the end of the article. DO cook only one meal: It can be tempting to cook several meals, one for each of your children and then one for the adults. That is unnecessary work and will reinforce the picky eater. They will learn that if they cry enough, whine enough, or act hungry enough, you will continue to feed them their favorite foods for every meal. Instead, establish a FIRM rule that you will only make one meal. They can choose to eat it or not. DO let them experience the natural consequences of not eating that one meal: Once you've cooked that one meal, that's what's for dinner. They can choose to eat or go without. This is where is gets tough. Let's say they choose to go without then are hungry later. That tugs on our heart strings and makes us want to swoop in and make something for them to eat. However, that once again reinforces picky eating. Instead, you get to say something like "Bummer, you're hungry. Meal time is over, you can try again at the next meal." Then walk away. They will quickly learn that if they don't want to be hungry, they need to make what mama cooks. DO have a FIRM expectation that they TRY foods: We use the word FIRM a lot at Parent with a Pro. Firm is the opposite of flexible. Research shows that being a firm parent is healthy for your kids (if you balance that firmness out with lots of love, connection, and fun). So what will the firm expectation be in your home? That they try the ONE meal that you cook? That they take one bite for each year of age they are? i.e. an eight year old takes eight bites. That they eat one veggie and one protein? You decide, then you stick to it. DO occasionally let them miss out on dessert if they choose not to eat dinner: If you're at a meal where there is a dessert after, it is OK to say "Dessert is for kids who eat a little protein and one vegetable." It's OK to have that rule and it's OK to let your child miss out if they choose not to eat a little protein and a vegetable (or whatever expectation you set). The child may be OK with this when they are refusing to eat, but it most likely won't be pretty when dessert comes out and they don't get it. Which leads to... DON'T give in to tantrums, fits, crying, whining, etc. about food: Not giving into negative behavior is one parenting rule we CANNOT emphasize enough! Giving in and giving a child the dessert THEY CHOOSE to miss out on will teach the child that they don't have to listen to you next time. AND that if they don't like what you said, all they have to do is escalate their negative behavior ...

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