It started young. The picky eating. He would look at certain foods we put in front of him and just look at us like we were absolutely crazy for even suggesting it was food. There were A LOT of battles. There still are. I’m sure this sounds familiar for many reading this, but as a parent of a “picky eater”, I’m here to tell you…it’s not your fault, and it DOES get better.
Let’s start with the “it’s not your fault” statement. The reason I say this is because some parents have kids who will put pretty much anything in their mouths and not complain. I have one of these kids. But I also have a picky eater. We have never fed them differently. We have never made one eat something and not the other. One is just picky. That’s it. That’s who he is. I find a lot of parents of non-picky eaters just assume picky eating is a result of ‘bad’ parenting. I disagree. We parent our two children the exact same way, we feed them the same things, but guess what? They are two different people with two different tastes. In most cases, it’s NOT your fault.
Now onto how it gets better. Some of you might be shaking your heads and thinking that it will never get better. But I think that depends on your definition of ‘better’. In our house, we consider trying new things progress. We consider not complaining about a meal he’s complained about in the past a solid win. I’m not saying your child is going to magically wake up one day and eat fish and brussel sprouts with a smile. What I AM saying is…there will be progress. There will be small victories. And I think we need to celebrate those.
Let’s look at a few tips we’ve found have encouraged our picky eater to branch out a bit.
Give Choices – No, I’m not suggesting you cook two different meals every night. But maybe give a couple different vegetable options. For example, ask your child if they want broccoli or salad with their meal. They don’t have to eat both, but they DO have to pick one. Make sure they are both healthy options. It will also give you a better idea of what foods your child thinks are the lesser of two evils!
Make Meal Deals – Don’t make meals for a week straight you know your child will complain about. I say that for your own sanity. Instead, make what we like to call “Meal Deals”. If you’re planning a meal you know your child isn’t a huge fan of one night, make them a deal. If they eat this meal tonight, they can pick the meal tomorrow. It helps them realize they can’t have pizza or hot dogs every single night, but they WILL get to eat their favourite meals.
Try Before You Cry – This is a rule in our house – and it’s been VERY helpful. Before you start complaining and crying about what is put in front of you, you MUST try it first. This rule has worked quite well, and our picky eater has ended up trying things he NEVER would have tried otherwise, and turns out…he actually LIKES some of them!
For some kids, it might take a little longer. Be patient. Continue to offer a variety of foods. Celebrate the small victories. Celebrate them with ice cream! But not the kinds with chunks in it. That’s gross.