We’ve finally made it past the holiday season, but maybe some of the habits your kids picked up didn’t get the memo. There are family events, changes in schedules, new foods and faces around the dinner table, and maybe even illnesses.
This can lead to picky eating, even in kids who may not usually be!
But now it’s time to get back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here are 6 tips to help your child detox from a season of pickiness!
Establish Your Family Values
To set boundaries around food, it’s important to understand what is most important. Write down your values as a family–is it your priority that your children get to sit together, laugh, and bond? Or maybe your focus is on the food? Is dinner time when you read together?
Find what makes you feel the most connected as a family and build your boundaries around that.
Set Up A Snack Routine
Most children thrive on predictability and stability. Try implementing a meal and snack routine so they know what to expect throughout the day. They’re much less likely to fight you at mealtime if it’s the same every day!
Along with mealtime values, you should also establish the most important aspects of your day and build your snack routine around that.
Do you value sleep? Then maybe breakfast is 30 minutes late one day and the rest of your snack and meal routine follows.
The important thing to remember is you don’t need to time it perfectly. Find a rhythm that fits you and your family and stick with it! Consistency is key.
Know, Follow & Honor Division of Responsibility
There are different roles at the table for children and adults. The basic breakdown usually looks like this:
Parent: Provides where/what/when the child is allowed to eat
Child: Decides whether to eat what’s offered and how much
Problems usually arise when one or the other starts to overstep those boundaries.
As a parent, try to avoid counting bites, requiring them to finish their plates, or dictating which foods they need to eat. Similarly, children may try to demand eating outside their normal eating window or in a place where eating is not allowed.
Offer a Variety of Foods
You can help prevent pickiness by keeping your children surprised, knowing that each trip to the table will be exciting and new.
Don’t be intimidated. We aren’t talking about huge changes here. If you offered spaghetti and meatballs last time, try a meat sauce instead. You could change the meat you use or opt for marinara sauce instead. Switching up the pasta shape is another super easy option!
The bottom line here, change should be the only constant!
Make things fun
Focus on your connection with your child, fostering an environment of safety, trying new things, and accepting no as an answer.
Have fun by inviting them to participate in cooking the meal or setting the table. Laugh about how the spaghetti noodles look like snakes or the parmesan cheese is like snow.
It doesn’t always have to be about food, either! Talk to them about their day, their favorite stuffed animal, or anything they like.
While connecting is the focus here, it doesn’t mean you always give in to them. Hold loving and empathetic boundaries, laugh with them, engage with food, and make the table a place they want to come to.
If you are already struggling with pickiness, focus on connection first and foremost and the rest will come.
Model the Behavior You Want to See
The patterns we express in front of our children will shape how they view foods for the rest of their lives. This is a beautiful thing!
Model the kind of behavior you want to see in your children. Let them see you try new foods and get out of your comfort zone. Try foods you don’t usually like, but prepared in a new way. Cook new things and invite them to join you!
Over time, they will recognize these patterns and start to model their behavior after yours.
Already Have a Picky Eater?
If you are already struggling with picky eating, try to root out the cause. Oftentimes we will find ourselves trying every trick under the sun and it doesn’t make a difference.
This is likely because you’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist!
Find the reason behind their pickiness and try to plan your parenting strategies around that reason. You know your child best, so try tactics specific to their root issue.
I have an entire section on how to do this in my Table Talk course!
Feeding kids shouldn’t be this hard. Picky eating can take over your life, feeling like every meal is worse than the last. It’s time to reclaim your kitchen tables and actually start enjoying meals together.
I believe raising strong families happens around the table and picky eating can get in the way of that.Table Talk is a targeted program that teaches you the strategies and methods that kick picky eating to the curb for good. Learn more about it by clicking here!