So-called ‘fussy or picky eaters’ are actually quite common amongst young children, especially between two and six years of age. This can be quite a challenge for parents, especially those that try to make healthy food appealing to their children.
Flexibility instead of Dogma
Unfortunately there is no magic solution for picky eaters. Parents don’t even need to have done something wrong in order to receive their child’s complete rejection of certain menu proposals. What does count however is the parent’s reaction to the challenge. Dogmatic insistence on certain propositions are generally of little help. Continuously preaching the goodness of healthy foods such as whole grain, veg or fruit will mostly be in vain. Of course these arguments are correct, but will mostly be completely ignored by the child. In this situation parents need to stay relaxed and get creative…
Don’t force food!
It is absolutely reasonable to take your child’s (food) preferences seriously, even when you would generally assume that you always know better as a parent. This doesn’t mean answering to inappropriate demands for extra pudding. Nor should one ever engage in negotiations whereby a chocolate bar would reward a bit of broccoli.
Rather – and as always – the parents need to lead by example. If you live the enjoyment of healthy food in a convincing manner and on top of it manage to prepare it in a physically appealing manner, there is a good chance you will get your child to join in and to dig in.
It is furthermore recommended to keep trying, if needed as many as 15 times! Every child should get the chance to try a food on several occasions, and thus slowly discover a liking. There should never be any pressure, particularly with regards to large portions. Instead, parents should complement the small achievements. Most problems can’t be resolved in one go and few picky eaters will turn into healthy food lovers over night. A good strategy could be to start with a small selection of foods at first and to slowly grow the spectrum as the child develops the taste. In other words- patience and persistence are key.