Sometimes trying to get your child to eat can be very frustrating. Often as parents, we are resorting to pressure with the best of intentions. Many parents wonder how their child is managing while eating so little overall or only eating certain foods. The problem with pressure is that it doesn't work. If you think about a time you were put under pressure- what did it do? Typically it makes us do the opposite of what the pressure was trying to get us to do. If another adult was telling you to eat certain foods, or to just have another bite would you listen? Would that make you want to do those things? Can you look at another adult and tell them they are hungry or that they are full? But, for some reason we do this with our kids.
Kids are no different. In fact, kids are testing limits and boundaries in every aspect of their lives, food being no exception. Pressure them to eat more vegetables will result in less being eaten. Or, it will make them eat it to please you, which is the opposite of intuitive eating. Pressure them to eat certain foods, and they will refuse completely. Many of us may remember things like this from our younger years for example eat 5 peas because you are 5 years old, no dessert until you dinner is done, sit here until you plate is empty, etc. This doesn't work.
The good news is that by removing any form of pressure you empower your kids to be mindful/intuitive eaters that listen to their bodies. This is the goal. Also, none of us need a battle every time food is eaten, it's exhausting. As you remove any pressure you are putting on your kids around food, not only will your kids feel better, but you will too. Imagine having a meal that doesn't result in a standoff, or anyone feeling upset or frustrated. We want to teach our kids to listen to their bodies - eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. When we are using pressure around eating this doesn't happen.
Now to put this into action. Avoid asking your kids to finish what's on their plates. Don't make them sit at the table until their food is eaten. Ask yourself- am I saying this to my child to get them to eat more or less of a food? If so, it's pressure. Stop using any forms of pressure to help improve your child's eating. It works!
Looking for more ways to remove pressure? Contact Jill, Nurture the Future's Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Wallace, RD, CH
Mom, Registered Dietitian and Chartered Herbalist writing about nutrition. Have a topic you want to read about? I would love to hear your idea. Email email@example.com