Updated: Sep 7, 2022
THE TEACHABLE TUTOR'S THOUGHTS
Volume 1 Issue 8
April 30, 2022
"As a Child, My Family's Menus Consisted of Two Choices:
Take it or Leave it"
Let's talk about picky eaters! Were you one when you were a child? Do you have a child who is particular about their food? Well you're not alone! It turns out that being picky about your food is a part of early human development. Often the underlining issues are SENSORY based. Children build up their tolerance to different smells, textures, and tastes over a period of time.
As a child, I could not stand the the the texture of yogurt. I had a natural gag reflex of wanting to throw up. Yet now as an adult, I enjoy eating yogurt because of it's smooth texture. Who would have guessed?! My point is that there is hope for your picky eater
Yes, with time your child's palate will become more sophisticated, however I know that you want your child to EAT their vegetables like yesterday! No worries parents, I've got some great tips and tricks to help you.
1: Be Patient
We do not want to become stressed out about feeding our children nor do we want our kids to feel stressed about eating foods that they might have an aversion to.
We have to come from a place of understanding. Remember you might have been picky about your food as a child. You may even still have foods that you as an adult refuse to eat due to non medical reasons. It is important to remember that expanding your child's palate is a process that will occur over a broad period of time. According to the Washington Post, 14% to 50% of preschool children, and from 7% to 27% % of older children are picky eaters. Picky eating can also be linked to developmental delays. Look at the stats below.⬇️⬇️⬇️ As parents we never want to see our children crying, so our goal is not to bring them to tears over foods that they are not ready to eat. Trying new foods should not be attached to negative experiences.
2. Explore Foods
As a teacher, I know that children learn best with hands-on-learning. However, at home parents can give children this learning opportunity through the exploration of food. Young children are naturally curious about everything, therefore allowing them to use their 5 senses to explore is one of the best ways to introduce a new food. This is a no pressure introduction to a new food allows your child to become acquitted with the food prior to seeing it on their plate during mealtime. Have your child, with your help; identify the attributes of a new food with these prompts:
⭐️ What does it look like? (color, shape and size)
⭐️ What does it smell like? (Is it a familiar smell)
⭐️ What does it feel like? (Is it hard, smooth, rough, bumpy or soft)
⭐️ What does it taste like? (Your child can slightly taste it with a lick or a small bite)
⭐️ What does it sound like? (This is if your child decides to take a bite)
For older and even younger children, you can provide them with a hands-on opportunity to explore by allowing them to help prepare food in the kitchen. When children cook the food, they are more likely to try it when it is on their dinner plate. In addition, allowing children to help in the kitchen will increase their likelihood to explore new foods . For younger kids you might also want to buy them a toy kitchen to use. Playing is an effective way to engage the minds of young children's imagination and desire to explore.
3. Food Presentation Matters
Most people decide if they are going to eat their food first by looking at its presentation, so do kids. You can entice your child to eat by offering a small portion of a new food alongside some of their favorite foods.
Another way to get your child excited about trying new foods is to have the food presented as a work of art. You can take a slices of fruits and vegetables to create a collage depicting animals, faces, and more.
4. Use Stories
It is important that picky eaters do not feel alone in their struggle. One way to help a picky eater is for you, the parent, to share stories about yourself as a child. Take a trip down memory lane. Tell funny stories of you as a picky eater. Be honest and let your child know that there are foods that you still do not like to eat. Laugh, giggle and put your child at ease.
There are numerous story books that you can read with your child about picky eaters that are fun and entertaining. Reading these types of picture books will help you and your child talk about the foods that they are fussy about.
Here are some recommended books to read with your picky eater at home:
5. Celebrate Each Victory
Get excited each time your child tastes and tries a new food. Be their personal cheerleader. Tell them how proud you are of them. Reward them with an opportunity to have a bit more of their favorite dessert or snack. Reinforcing the behavior of trying new food items is important because reinforcement increases the likelihood that your child will try more new and different foods.
With these 5 tips for 'picky eaters' you are on your way to increasing your child's tolerance for new foods. As stated: be patient, honest, reflective and supportive as you engage in promoting behaviors that will result in your child's willings to try new and different foods. In the case of a child with severe aversion to trying new foods, I've included the book below 'Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating' as a resource. In the meantime, it is my hope that mealtimes will increasingly become a more pleasant experience! BON APPETITE!
A bonus idea is to try kid friendly recipes!
"HAPPINESS is... kids eating their food no matter what"!😊
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