How to get over ÿou child’s tantrums on EATING !
My child just doesnt want to eat !!! How do I get her to eat healthy ? Many parents esp mothers come to me with these questions & this is a matter of persistant struggle between the toddler and parents. Lets look at 3 simple but not neccessarily easy strategies to handle your child’s eating tantrums like a PRO !
1. Get your toddler involved!
Allow your child to have input in planning the family menu for the week – encourage him to select the vegetable or fruit. For each meal, give your child a meaningful role in meal preparation. For young toddlers, it can be as simple as removing grapes from the stem or washing veggies or sprinkling salt on the sald. Older toddlers can contribute to more complex aspects of meal preparation – measuring, stirring, washing the veggies etc. The more your child is involved in the planning and preparation, the more invested he will be in the meal.
You can catch up with your child esp when you are preparing the evening meals. Make sure to tell them stories about food and even keep sharing about the benefits of the food at hand. For eg. “Having daal means having protiens and that makes your musceles strong, now you can run faster”.
2. Make “eating” the CHILD’s problem not YOURS!
When toddlers refuse to eat the family meal or have a tantrum about what is served, it usually invokes a response from the parent – either “coaxing” to get the child to “just try it” or a display of frustration or anger. This attention gives the child a huge “power payoff.” Instead, put the child on notice that “you are no longer going to badger him about what he eats.” Let him know that “he is ‘growing up’ and can choose to eat what is served or not – either way, you are fine with it. But – you won’t be serving any other food until the next normally scheduled snack or meal.” This becomes the logical consequence – the child will eat at dinner/lunch – or he will be hungry.
Dont get into the habit of preparing seperate meals for the little one since beginning. The same daal can be made a little bland for the baby, Its importnt that the toddler eats what everyone eats. By 2 years their gastrointestinal system develops well enough to digest food what most adults can digest. Its a matter of developing the taste.
3. STOP any discussion about what he eats, or how much he eats.
What he eats – is his problem, not yours. Plan a healthy meal and include at least one healthy item you know he will eat. Don’t ask him to try one bite, don’t encourage him to eat more. If he eats – that’s great. If not – he’ll be hungry. That’s fine too. (Children will not starve by missing one meal – I promise!) Let him know that dinner ends at 7:30 (or whatever time) and remove the plates from the table. (Otherwise, he will try to outlast you hoping that you will provide food that is more to his liking). If he played with his food and didn’t eat – he’ll have an opportunity to try again at the next meal.
If he has a tantrum because “he’s staaaarving” – be totally unconcerned and go about your business. Remember that he gets a “payoff” when you REACT to his tantrum. Remove the payoff by ignoring the tantrum. Remind him that humans can survive for days without food but be sure to drink water because he does need to hydrate! Don’t reward the tantrum with a snack or the behavior will continue the next day and beyond!
While this might seem a little harsh, but this behaviour sets a good precedent rright from the beginning.
Dr Shruti Jaiswal is a mother of a 2.8 year old daughter and her daughter happily relishes DAAL CHAWAL everyday.