Does it feel like your child is “allergic” to healthy fruits and veggies but has no problem scarfing down ice cream and cookies?
Clinical psychologist Dr. Vanessa von Auer of VA Psychology Center shares her top tips to make mealtimes more pleasant.
Serve a range of dishes for the family. Let your child decide how much and what she wants to eat. Constantly harping on what she should and should not eat, or forcing her to eat the “healthy” food will only create a negative association with said healthy food and reinforce her rejection of it.
Then, mix it with at least two that she already knows and preferably enjoys. Familiarity is crucial to young children and creates safety as well as the confidence to try new foods.
Your child may not like new food the first time she tries it, as it takes time to get used to different flavours and textures. Have each member of the family try this food and describe its taste. It’s a great way for the family to bond over dinner, too!
If you constantly worry about your child’s eating habits at mealtimes, your child will feel your anxiety and frustration. Remove yourself and re-join the meal when you are calmer. Remember that children, too, can have days when they are not as hungry, so let your child be in control occasionally.
This may help distract from the focus of eating healthy or new food. Games like “I Spy” and “Simon Says” can be done while seated.
From The Finder (Issue 281), April 2017
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