Some children have no problem going to town on a meal, while others are more selective about what and how often they eat. Once your little one is old enough to communicate with you about these things, it is important to be clear and consistent at dinner time.
Dinner time can be super frustrating if you have a little one who is very stubborn when it comes to eating what you have prepared. This post is NOT the end all – be all for what works and what doesn’t because you definitely have to INDIVIDUALIZE when it comes to meal plans. Some children are over-eating and you have to help them with portion control, while others are not getting enough nutritional value in their day.
Here are a few of MY tips:
1. If you plan to eat dinner at 6, don’t let your little one snack later than 3:00…Come on, I am rarely hungry at 6:00 if I have been munching prior to dinner time.
2. Allow them to choose: would you like to take 4 bites of green beans and 5 bites of chicken or 5 bites of green beans and 4 bites of chicken? It sounds meticulous but just by their ownership of their caloric intake you might have slightly less of a battle.
3. Make a little placemat – laminate it and put it under their plate as a constant reminder….each night put a star next to each food group they ate, or a star next to how “happy” their plate was, or whatever incentive plan you choose (maybe dessert).
4. Provide a little variety for the food groups they dislike, don’t completely cater to their taste buds, but find out what veggies your little one actually likes by varying your side dishes.
5. Be clear and consistent when it comes to the promise or loss of privilege of dessert. If they have to eat a certain amount of bites before dessert, don’t give in when everyone else is enjoying their dessert – stick to your consequence.
6. Make you or your spouse out to be a champion “Daddy has big muscles because he eats his chicken!” or “Mommy is so healthy because she eats her green beans!”
7. Bring some reality in to the picture: “I would hate for you to have to go to the doctor because you didn’t give your body what it needs. We need to take care of the bodies that God has given us.”
8. Come up with a fun family incentive, “Let’s eat all our dinner in the next 10 minutes so that we can clear the table and play a game!”
If you don’t agree with these tips or they don’t apply to you then try new modes of motivation, but stick to what works! Try to make dinner a positive experience so that family dinners are a special event rather than a dreaded occasion.