Feeding kids can be a big challenge if your little ones are fussy eaters. Both Himani and Kalyani have raised picky eaters and in this episode they share their experiences, ideas and parenting tips for developing healthy eating habits and to take the stress out of the whole process.
- Giving Control – Involving children in the whole process of cooking itself. Right from grocery shopping, cleaning to cooking. The kids feel empowered by being a part of it. Interesting conversations like ‘Where , how and in which season is this fruit grown? ‘, ‘Is this a leafy vegetable or root vegetable?’ not only get them interested in food but also helps in holistic development. Their rejection levels go down. The most interesting way to get them involved in cooking is setting yogurt. They find the whole process magical and super engaging.
- Gadget Free family dinner – Putting all the screens away and letting the kids see what and how much mommy daddy are enjoying food, makes a huge impact on them. Children start expressing their likes and dislikes in a more detailed manner rather than only saying – ‘I don’t like this’. Going back to our roots and sitting on the floor with cross legs is also recommended. It is scientifically a better posture and helps us clean up faster.
- Peer Pressure: Letting the kids eat together with their friends helps them try out new tastes. Let the children carry their dinner plates to their friend’s place and eat together. They will influence each other and many a times its much more effective than us parents pushing them to try.
- Replacement Foods: Sometimes even after of trying various feeding methods, kids continue to reject particular foods. Replacing them with different foods made with similar ingredients helps. For example; if the child does not like milk, trying cheese or yogurt is important. Similar kind of nutrition goes in the body and most of the times its better than stressing out too much over it.
- Listening to our body: Help the children understand their hunger clues. Feeding while having the TV or other distractions around hampers the process of listening to our body clues. Children dont understand when they are full or how the food tasted.
- Carrot and Stick Approach: Though carrot is the most popular approach, it might backfire. Reward can become their only motivation to not only eat but it extends to other fields a well. So use it sparingly! Stick approach might lead to the child associating ‘pressure’ with the act of eating itself. So parents might feel that the child is rejecting food, but he might be avoiding the pressure associated with it.
Insight of the Day: Using food and a mood maker / escape mechanism – Whenever the children are upset and crying, parents run to chocolates/ or their favorite treats to help them calm down. But the children must be taught how to deal with their emotions first. Running to food to overcome harsh times might become a habit and lead to obesity in the future.
Fun Tip of the Day: Boring Substitutes – If your child is rejecting his meal, just calmly offer boring options like say salad or yogurt. The child will weigh the options and atleast try his own meal! Tricky Moms 🙂
Dr. Devsena Desai, Consultant, Psychologist and Counselor for gifted education. Author of the book ‘Lovable Enigma – Teen Parenting’.
Ms. Sunruta Sahastrabudhe – Early Childhood Development Specialist, Commonwealth scholar UK, Director of ‘The Fist Three’ institute for child development.
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