I gave my first webinar on fussy eating last week. I talked about how common a problem it is, how it is not a sign of bad parenting or particularly naughty children, and shared some of the understanding we have about why it happens and the range of strategies we can use to help our children through this phase.
I used some interactive slides through the workshop which was a first for me. They were really useful. We created a word cloud with the feelings that parents feel when dealing with a fussy child.
Fussy eating can be worrying, annoying, leaves parents feeling frustrated and the mess!!
One key message that can help you to remain calm in the face of the struggles is to remember that it can also be stressful and overwhelming for the child.
When we are feeling frustrated and angry, try to consider ourselves in a situation where someone is trying to get us to taste something really unfamiliar that may taste or feel strange to us. Add to that, the person telling us cannot see or understand why you are nervous or unsure of this food. To them it is mundane, everyday, normal.
Imagine feeling out of control of the situation. You might want to taste it without anyone watching to see your reaction. You might be afraid of their expectations and if you show that it is kind of ok that maybe you will be expected to eat it all!! And that might just be too much.
There are lots of ways that we can give our kids opportunities to try new things that reduce the pressure on them and you. Here are some things that you can try:
- having your children in the kitchen when you cook and let them see you steal a raw ingredient, make it seem like a fun perk of cooking….they may copy you.
- have little bowls on the table with things within their reach that they can take if they want.
- let them choose how much of something they have on their plate
- encouraging them to leave things they don’t want to eat on their plate and not throwing them on the floor or spreading them across the table, this is a good step to making it easier for them and you when eating out of the home.
- if they show interest on what is on your plate (even if it is exactly the same as what is on theirs) let them take something from your plate.
- snack times can be a less pressured way of having new foods available to try.
- laying things on the plate in a picture and talk about the picture and less about the food
The participants were asked what were they going to try as a result of the talk….
“The importance of the whole food story. Involve them in all aspects of food. Not just what arrived on the table”Participant
“I am going to continue to offer more foods”Participant
“Not get frustrated when she throws everything on the floor without even trying it”Participant
“Thank you again for speaking as I personally found it really insightful”Participant
If you are having struggles with fussy eating, please feel free to get in touch.