Picky Eaters Beware! You may be too little to read this but your parents aren’t.
I would like to share with you the importance of not giving in to picky eaters. You might be surprised that this goes way beyond the diet itself.
Scene unfolding: You come home from work and you’re tired. The kids hear the dinner plan and then here we go… nonstop complaining. The last thing you want to do is battle yet another meal so chicken nuggets in the microwave it is! What if I told you that by giving in to that battle night after night you’re setting your little ones up for a challenging road in several areas of their life outside of food itself? Some of you may bristle and say this woman is nutty and click off the screen.
That’s okay. I hope that curiosity brings you back at another time.
Others of you may be wondering how such a simple thing could possibly have such an impact.
The key to hearing what I’m saying is that I said “night after night”. I have 5 children of my own and my husband spent the better part of 2 decades working a rotating shift so I will never say you can’t pick your battles. Some nights it’s not worth the meltdown for the sake of the rest in the home. However, I want all parents to understand that by giving in night after night and making your child their own special meal does have a very hefty and direct impact on how they will grow to view many things in their little life journey.
By letting them choose now, you give them way more power than any little one should have. You just gave them the stamp of approval that they know what’s best for their body and their world and that they can tell you, the grown-up, how it’s going to be.
Flash forward… do you see that teenager standing before you with that thought in mind? Yikes! One of our worst nightmares isn’t it?
When we ask our kids to eat what is served many things are happening.
- They begin to understand that they are part of a family. There are more people in this house to think about other than just themselves. If we start catering to these tiny little humans now, what happens down the road?
- They learn respect in more ways than one. For the person who prepared a meal for them. It teaches them to appreciate the time and love they put into it. For the understanding of recourses and their health. Taking the time to let them know that you aren’t forcing them to eat carrots and roast beef because you want to ruin their nights but because you care about their ability to sleep, play, learn, and their mood.
- It teaches them to listen and what boundaries are. If they aren’t hungry or don’t want it let them know that you will be happy to save their plate for them and reheat it later if they get hungry. (Believe me, if they are truly hungry, they will eat). It doesn’t get thrown away and then you take out a box of snacks an hour later. What does that show them? Again, flash forward. “If I pitch a fit then mom and dad give in”. The battle only gets uglier as they grow. By being clear about what will happen and following through they begin to learn that this line doesn’t need to be crossed and for good reason. We are the grown-ups that understand what you need because we have spent a lifetime learning. This line is drawn because we love you and care about your wellbeing.
Sometimes it can be exhausting to think about. So, try this. It takes something like 22 days to develop a new habit. If you can mark out on your calendar 22 days that you will stick to the plan to serve one meal and that your child will participate in that meal, not their own, it may not seem as daunting to change your routine.
I’d love to hear from anyone for whom this was an epic fail. I’d be surprised if you didn’t see changes. Believe me when I say this is worth your time.
Remember, the time you spend now when they are little on something as simple as meal time will be rewarding to your family 10 fold in many ways to come.