Picky eater
Picky eaters

A mom recently wrote a question about her picky eaters on the Positive Parenting Facebook page.

“My 8 year old refuses to eat vegetables and is disruptive and pouty if dinner isn’t what he wants. Going out to dinner or to a friend’s house for dinner is very stressful for me. My 21 month old is beginning to copy him. I’ve tried so many things. Suggestions?”

So here are my top 3 suggestions to make mealtime easier:

1) Involve him in meal planning. Sit down and have him help you make a menu. Make it fun, ask him what little bro may like/needs to eat. Have him help with the shopping. Have him help cook/prep, set table…etc. Have him help find a job for baby.

2) Grow veggies with them…my kids would always eat stuff we grew in the garden, like peas, lettuce, tomatoes…would never eat it bought, only if they picked it. Also if there is anything he may eat, keep it washed, cut up, in an easy place for him to reach in fridge.

3) Set a limit and follow through – If he starts acting up at table, it’s OK to remove his plate and comment, “Looks like you are finished, this will be in the fridge if you get hungry later” and don’t engage in the power struggle. I don’t know if you remember the “say it once and follow through” tactic from class where I say it one time, then approach the child with a smile and loving touch and just stroke their arm or rub their back while they complain, until they stop. If I don’t say anything else, they have nothing to fight against and will eventually stop.

Also, so you can listen to my MP3 recording, “Ways to handle power struggles at mealtime”.

Please post your comments with more ideas below.


Happy Parenting!


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  1. Wendy Says Reply

    I think it might also be helpful to have a better understanding about how taste buds work and change. For example vegetables can have a bitter taste to some children at some stages in their life that adults don’t notice. The one bite rule seems very reasonable, since this can go away, it’s good to “check in” with your taste buds to see if anything has changed. Also I knew of a parent who had a really picky eater, and was devastated to find out her child wasn’t being picky, he just had multiple allergies! Talk about a guilt trip for making him sit at the table and force down that recipe with nuts! So there does seem to be several things to consider when dealing with a “picky” child! Another interesting thing I picked up… did you know the U.S. is the only country that has a “kids menu”? Everywhere else kids eat what adults eat, no hot dogs and mac n cheese in France!

  2. Daniel Wagner. Says Reply

    On the POP Facebook page, we had a small discussion about how to get a child to stay seated during dinner time and eat. She said, ” Here’s one I struggle with the most.. every night when we are having dinner I cant get Caleb to stay in his seat. He wonders around, gets in the fridge, and only sits down for 5 mins at the max. I cant buckle him in a seat because he knows how to undo it. And he wont listen to anything I say.”

    Another person commented, answering, “My suggestion: Secure the fridge and warn him if he gets up, he loses dinner. Couple of nights of going to bed hungry he may be willing to listen.”

    What do you think? Does this method seem a bit forceful to you?

  3. brandi Says Reply

    We made a rule similar to the one listed above. My boys had a bad habit of getting up during dinner and walking around, looking at things, getting things, looking for the dog, etc. Anything but sit and eat. Our kids are 7-9. If they get up during meal time, their plate is removed from the table. At first, we take the plate and then they have a chance to eat it after everyone else is done eating. If that doesn’t deter them, then they lose the plate and don’t eat again until the next meal. After two experiences, they no longer get up and wander around during the meal. It’s important to be consistent. My husband didn’t like the idea and resisted it at first, thinking it was cruel, but we tried it and got good results. It’s much more enjoyable for everyone. The kids even feel proud of themselves when they sit through the whole meal! Also, I realized the importance of creating mealtime as family time. So my husband and I will stay at the table until the kids are done, that seems to make them feel less anxious about staying put through dinner.

    • Deborah Godfrey Says

      Love that hubby is accountable for agreement too! That sure makes a difference, great work!

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