What’s better than having to choose if this battle is ‘really that important?’ Removing it all together! When it comes to whether a meal is eaten at all, that’s what I recommend doing.
I find that this can start with toddlers but really can happen with many different aged children and even teens. When dinner is ready the announcement “I’m not going to eat it” happens. The answer that you respond with should always be “okay.” This stops the power struggle in its tracks. An additional benefit to this response is that it gives some power back to the child, as it allows them to rely on their ability to understand their own hunger cues. There are no forms of pressure used when the answer is simply “okay.”
The next step is to require the child to come to the dinner table, not for the food, but for the company. Eating together is another large piece of the eating puzzle. I often find that when the child comes to the table they pick away at their food, however this is never a requirement. The requirement is that they sit with the family for even a few minutes regardless if they are going to eat or not.
And that’s it. Yes, it really is that simple. The key is really, honestly being okay with whether your child eats or not. If you don’t truly mean that response, your child will know and you will not avoid a mealtime battle. However, removing their need to eat at a meal removes the struggle, period.
Looking for support with your child’s eating? Both in person and online appointments available. Contact Jill, Nurture The Future’s Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org