Many parents get frustrated when their children refuse to eat anything; either it is a small thing or the stinky broccoli. Forcing your child to eat is not suitable for him/her and does more damage to your child than you realize. When you enforce something on him to eat by saying “just one more bite,” it seems harmless but imposes long-lasting effects on a child’s mind.
Most of the time, this situation happens to the dads when moms are not at home, and they are responsible for feeding the child. But refusing to eat is the expected childhood behavior seen in children; therefore, forcing a child to eat the meal that he does not want to eat is so complicated and makes your child hurt inside when they are not hungry. After going through many blogs named as dad food blog, I have come to know the ways to encourage your child to build a healthy relationship with food.
1. Is He a Picky Eater?
When your child refuses to eat certain foods, many parents consider him a picky eater and not knowing that what the actual mean of this label as well as the underlying issues he/she is experiencing. A picky eater is usually the one who only prefers to eat certain types of food over and over again. For instance, Chicken nuggets, jelly sandwiches, or peanut butter, etc. At the same time, the other family members enjoy a variety of food every day.
Most of the time, the refusal has to do a lot with preferences; including this, you need to identify the other issues your child is bearing, such as gagging or difficulty swallowing or chewing while eating certain foods. Although it is happening in rare cases, you should have a clue about the stubbornness of your child.
However, no matter what the reason is, you should not force the child to eat something he does not like. Instead, try to put multiple healthy items on the table so that he can choose at least one healthy food at each mealtime.
2. Minimize the Distraction at the Mealtime:
You can also restrict the use of electronic devices and gadgets such as smartphone, TV, or laptop at the mealtime to minimize the distractions that can impact on the interest of your child’s mood. Because sometimes your child diverts all of his attention towards these gadgets and refuses to eat anything. You can also make yourself a model for him by putting aside your phone.
You can put some effort into making your mealtime “a family time” and utilize this time for a family bonding; hence, it might be more comfortable for your child to eat. Make sure the eating area is comfortable for your child.
3. Kids’ Food Choices Mirror Their Dads:
In previous decades, mom used to be the parent making all the family food choices but nowadays, more than 52% of the fathers claim to be the primary grocery shoppers in their household. Hence, when the kids see that their father frequently eats something, the interest and curiously begin to raise in them and start liking that thing, either it is some garlic cookies or the processed junk food the dad consumed.
It seems that no matter what is the age of the kid, but they influence the kid’s eating habits and choices. Research reveals that the kids start choosing their meals as early as 20 months of age, and when they reach the age of two years, they start following the lead of their fathers in fruits, vegetables, sweet snacks, and take away foods. So, dads need to move on to something healthy and adopt healthy habits for their kids.
4. Make Sure to Serve Appropriate Food Portions:
First, you need to know that children have big swings in their appetites and cannot eat at every meal. They might not be hungry at the time you want them to eat as their appetite swings change for a day or even over days to weeks. Hence, you should not overburden this issue.
Sometimes the problem is that your child is not taking all the foods present on the plate. Therefore, you don’t need to put too much on the plate and give them a healthy portion of food.
5. Schedule Meal Two hours Before the Bedtime:
A restless or sleepy child cannot be able to eat well. Hence, yelling, forcing, or pressuring the child will not help in that case. Instead, the child starts crying, and eating goes out of the window. You should not schedule meal time too close to the bedtime or too soon before or after an activity.
If you want to eat, then do not put too much pressure on them as it will encourage them to eat. You can also try different recipes and allow your child to taste them; changing in a regular meal might help you to change things.
6. Reduce non-mealtime Snacks & Drinks:
It would be best if you involved your child in meal preparation to evoke interest in him as well as make him curious to eat the meal that he prepared with you. Scientists say that many young children like to eat the same food over and over again; therefore, variety can add excitement to a meal.
Well, this is the understood able thing that when your child eats too many snacks or drinks during the day, he/she refuses to eat at mealtime. Because they have a smaller stomach, so you need to avoid giving them too many snacks before mealtime so that a child feels hungry when giving a proper meal to eat. Hence, it would help if you discouraged easy snacks such as a bowl of munchies out on the table that can too-full the tummies of your kids by dinner time.
You should also be well aware of the eating style of your child and know the timings when he/she wants to eat and when they require more or less food at different times of the day. So that if your child refuses to eat something at dinner, he might have eaten plenty for breakfast or lunch.