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Super picky 6 year old: give in or keep forcing the issue? - Page 2

post #21 of 45

i have a six year old who was more adventurous when she was younger. she IS an avid fruit and vegetable eater. i guess we did well there. (i give credit to having a vegetable garden in the back yard.)


but hard pressed to get her to eat common, every day kid foods. pizza, cheeseburger.


i do make steaks and dole them out to the kids when i know they are hungry: chiefly, after school. if i can get them to eat a steak a couple times a week, i know i have the protein covered. i actually thought your "short list" was pretty good. there is NOTHING wrong with the fruits and vegetables he does like. i know many, many kids who won't eat any of that. 


have you tried cutting up the "new foods" fancy or somehow presenting them in very attractive (to a kid), small, bite size portions? or maybe put them on fancy china ware that he only gets to use when trying your "gourmet" foods? 


if it were me, i would limit your introduction of the "new foods" to one per week. (kinda like they say to do when you are first giving your baby solids.) and stick to the tried and true. maybe keep a chart and let him rank the "new food" on a scale of 1-10. that way, he has to try just one bite and give it a rating. can't all be 1s. over time, you will both see that he IS trying new foods and that he doesn't HATE them all. the ones that are 5s, maybe try them again in a month or two.

post #22 of 45

My kid was just like yours, and I did what you're doing: I let him eat foods separately. I tried to introduce new fruits and vegetables as themselves. I often present food as an experiment: it's science! We're going to test out whether you like this one yet! Or sometimes I say, "You like this vegetable with lemon juice, let's try the same treatment on this vegetable." At some point we started fruit smoothies and that was a win--we have them once a week as a treat.


Even at his pickiest, he always eats some veggies, some fruit, some high-protein food (we're vegetarians) some grains. Like you, I do not have to worry about  appropriate nutrition. It is a pain in the butt that he won't eat hot soup or a sandwich (!) in his lunch, but I do see that in any day, he consumes a decent diet. I don't pressure him to eat more, even when we're at a meal with other parents who are pressuring their kids. I don't want a battle. I want nice manners and conversation at the table. 


Now that he's 9, he is gradually starting to eat more things mixed together than before. He first began mixing food on his own plate. I'm really relieved about this. I know some people whose parents made them try everything, and for some families that works very well. I also know people who forbade certain foods or allowed all foods. There are a lot of ways to approach this. I'm happy that we went with this one.

post #23 of 45

my 4 yr old can be picky at times. not sure, but it might be a power struggle with us. what has worked for us is:

taking her shopping and asking her to pick out 2 or 3 produce items she would like to eat that week.

have her help in the kitchen. ask her what veggies she would like to eat with dinner. giving her more power over what's for dinner. let her stir and chop with supervision.

let her help herself. let her take the amount she thinks she's going to eat. we suggest she take a little and can have seconds if she wants (seconds rarely happen).

i also saw posted, making the food look fun. making faces with fruit and veggies works for us too.

post #24 of 45

French Kids Eat Everything - thanks for the suggestion! I bought it and read it and I LOVE it. I thought the approach might be authoritarian, but it isn't. It's about how to instill the social and aesthetic norms of a healthy food culture without making food into a power issue. 


Of course, it probably helps a lot to LIVE in a healthy food culture, and I don't. But I can still try to copy the parts that work for me. I told the kids they were getting a full meal every day after school instead of snacking until dinner, and they were completely on board with that. In France, they'd be eating a nice lunch at 12:30. Where I am, they are eating a mediocre lunch at 10:10 a.m., so an afterschool snack won't cut it - they need an afterschool meal. But the principle still seems to work. And I didn't find any discarded baggies and apple cores under my furniture this morning ;-)

post #25 of 45
I avoid food battles. I make a meal, and if a child doesn't want it, the child has a very few things to choose from that are also healthy, but they must include some vegetable content, and they must not create more work or mess for me. The options are limited, but if one of my kids gets bored with those options, they are always welcome to have some of the meal I make. I don't make any comments about what they eat, except to ask if they think they'll eat what I'm cooking so I know how much to make. I have a husband here who is good at eating leftovers so I'm not too concerned about leftovers, but otherwise I'd just stick them in the freezer and heat them up and eat them when I was in a hurry.

Anyway, I'm firmly in the "back off" camp. I ate only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few years in my youth. Really, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was super picky. The more my mom fought over it, the more I felt I had to fight back and eat only that. When she gave up and backed off, I started to feel like I was willing to eat a bit of other stuff. But if she made a fuss over what I ate, I'd go back to PB&J. Kids love autonomy, and the only areas where they have complete control are food, potty, and sleep. At different ages, they choose different areas among those there to dig their heels in and control themselves, and after the age of 5 or so it seems to me that they make it food. I would not get into a fight there because they will win if they want to and fighting over something you can't win is futile.
post #26 of 45

I, too, have a "picky" eater.  However, he has sensory issues that are the underlying problem, along with food allergies (anaphylactic to dairy, egg, peanuts, and tree nuts) and intolerances.  So, like the 2nd or 3rd poster, we have found help from a SLP who is trained through SOS Feeding Solutions and had tremendous success.  His palate is now broadening rather than shrinking.  A common misconception is that children will not starve themselves, but if they have underlying issues that are not addressed, they actually will starve themselves.  Food is not a priority for the body.  It is an instinct to eat for only the first 6 months of life, then it is a learned behavior and choice.  No longer an instinct.


Your son has foods that you can make a diet out of.  That is excellent!  You can continue broadening his food choices and cook things for yourself by creating a "learning plate".  This is an empty plate on the table.  He has to serve himself a little bit of everything, but if he is not ready to eat the food, he can put it on his learning plate.  If his visual system is too overwhelmed with the food and he can't serve himself the food, don't argue about it, just make a statement, "Your body isn't ready for this food.  I'll put some on your learning plate"  You can test the waters looking at his reactions; sometimes my son can help me (his hand on top of mine on the spoon) to serve the offensive food onto the learning plate.   Then, he and you can eat for 10 minutes, and then you can start talking about the food on the learning plate.  Start with basic senses: color, texture, hard, soft, rough, smooth, big smell, medium smell, small smell, shape, size, does it have a skin, is it the same inside as outside when you cut into it?, etc. If he interacts with it enough, you could ask if he wants to "snake taste" the food - stick his tongue out for a very short quick taste.  Let him decide how far he is willing to go on all of this.  You have to be engaged, playing with and learning about the food with him.  Get some fun "tools" for him to learn about food with: a masher, a cutter, a dicer, an ice cream or melon ball scoop, things that are different and fun.


You should always serve at least one food he needs to learn about at one meal of the day.  It is difficult to start with, but gets easier as time goes on.  The learning plate is so helpful and routine now that I can actually serve something new at every meal without my son getting freaked out and power struggling with, because he just says, "oh, yeah, that's just going on my learning plate."  Then we learn about it together, with me making connections, oh, this has rice and brocolli and cheese: all foods that I like, but they are cooked together (your rice casserole).  I wonder if I tasted the foods separately if I would like them as much as I normally do?  Separate them and learn about the differences and similarities to the foods as he is used to eating them.


If you email me, I can send you some articles we have received that have been helpful.  Anyways, there is a middle ground  - you should not force, but you can encourage learning.  



post #27 of 45
When my daughter was a baby she was underweight. I guess that's when we started to make her eat. It was never severe, just a bite or two to finish her baby food and progressed to a bite or two of chicken breast vs chkn nuggets, ( things like that)

Idk how your Ds is but dd is very stubborn and likes very much to play the "spiteful" game- where she won't do anything u want her to. Yes we have tried reverse psychology but it didn't work most times and I like u were gettin tired of fixing two different meals. So we started making her "try" new foods, not eat a bunch of something she did t want and it has caused some break throughs in her dietary habits! She doesn't really cry that much anymore, she just knows to go ahead and take a bite if she wants down to play. Sometimes I even le her get by with a tiny nibble wink1.gif

It's not for every mom or kids personality but I know I didn't branch out to new foods until dd father made me and just look at all the years I wasted eating boring bland food. I want dd to expand her palat (as much as a 2yo can!) not only for nutrition which is important but also because new tastes and textures expand a persons horizon and if I can engrain the ability to try new foods at an early age the it is more likely to stick when she's an adult.
post #28 of 45
ITA with Smithie about food appreciation 100%. I could have written that first paragraph. And feeling that way has shaped my attitude about feeding my kids from the beginning.

We don't and have never made the kids separate meals after toddlerhood. (maybe if we're having something really spicy) They get some say about breakfast and lunches, and they can choose their own snacks, but not usually dinner. I try to make meals with at least some elements that everyone likes. There are 5 people here and the majority of our food comes from CSAs, so it is just not possible to have a meal everyone is super enthusiastic about, all the time. I don't force the kids to eat, but they don't get to eat something else because they don't like it. Sometimes they are asking me for thirds, sometimes they have 3 spoonfuls and decide they're done. In the end, it all balances out. More often then not, they'll eat the full meal. There are no struggles and they are definitely not picky.

FWIW, we don't have any food sensitivities or sensory issues with food, though.
post #29 of 45

I view food appreciation differently.  For me, it would be completely ungrateful to the universe to send a child of mine to bed hungry when I have a houseful of food available.  As long as I have food, and lots of it, my child will always be able to eat something, even if he/she didn't want what was offered in the first place.  

(Of course, I was a very picky child who was forced to eat what I didn't want to eat, and I'm still a very picky adult, so that colors my answer.  I can't expect my children to be less picky than I am.)  

post #30 of 45

I m now the grandmother of 5...However, as a new mom at 20 years old I was troubled by the same "picky eater" problems and ask my mom what to do...Her reply was..."offer the child 3 well planned meals a day...when meal time is over for other eaters, remove plate and let them go about their day.  No coaxing, no pleading, no punishment, no showing them how well you can eat it.  no discussion of food or eating at all....NOTHING!  Normal dinner talk, only. Pay no attention to anything they do or say regarding the food, other than to reply ONCE and ONCE ONLY per meal,  to anything say regarding what they do or do not like with, "If you don't want it, don't eat it."  Note use of the word "want" not "like", it makes a difference, everyone has some things they don't like and that is alright, when they are old enough to serve up their own plate they can skip over it.  For now, serve it and continue the above.  Don't even look at their plate.  Absolutely NO drama!   She went on to explain to me that there has never been a child starve to death or end up malnourished when offered food three times a day.  This is attention seeking behavior and by your responses they are getting exactly what they wanted...your full attention.  For what ever reason any attention you give to a spouse, siblings or just life in general, at meal time is considered by the child as a direct threat to their command of you and your time.  My mom was right.  Trust me...This WORKS!  On the 3rd day of his finicky picking at his plate and receiving NO attention as a result of it, he began to EAT.  Perhaps, not exactly the way I envisioned but, he was eating.  In a short time everything evened out and although he continued to leave the broccoli on his plate I did not address it.  It is also very important to Ignore this new found appetite as well (as far as they can discern) or next thing you know your dinnertime attention will be devoted entirely to how good they are eating and you are right back where you started...just the flip side of the coin.  She also said to not address any announcements of "I don't like broccoli" (or whatever) other than to repeat your new mealtime mantra of, "If you don't want it, don't eat it."

NOTE: When you serve dessert, put it in front of your non-eater as you would anyone else at table, do not deny them as they will perceive this as punishment and that is not your intention.  If that's all they eat...so be it!   It may help you to remember that even apple cobbler or a dish of ice cream is after all...nourishment....just make sure it is only a small portion and no seconds (not for anyone, in front of the child).   If, at any time you notice even a slight return of their previous finicky behavior, think back and you will most likely realize that YOU have returned to your previous pattern of allowing them to take your attention away from your plate to address some comment about theirs.

PERSONAL NOTE:  Some form of this same reaction to other types of undesirable behavior is also very effective.  Even if your solution is a simple "time out".   If YOU are consistent with convincing them that you are not fazed and hardly interested at all in their bad behavior, they will eventually figure out that whatever they were doing just does not work, that instead of commandeering more of your attention... they are getting NONE.  It helped me to rely on a simple kitchen timer, sitting close enough that he could see and hear it (but, not close enough for him to twist off a few minutes while I was busy ignoring him.  Also, let them know that if they disobey and break their time out by talking, whining or leaving where you sat them...you will re-set it to the original amount of minutes.  If they choose to cry...let them and continue to ignore.  If they pitch an entire fit, let them.  You MUST be consistent.  If they can't tell time, explain that when it buzzes, they are done, but if they take off before it buzzes they will have to start all over again, and when they make a break for it (and they will), FOLLOW THROUGH!  Even if it is not convenient for you and it usually isn't.  Also, should you ever catch yourself, in the grocery store or any other place, saying something along the lines of , "If you don't stop that, I will take you home and you will go to time out", FOLLOW THROUGH, no matter how inconvenient it is for you (and, this one is NEVER convenient).  It only took once with my son to make a believer out of him.  One last helpful hint from Grandma....NEVER OFFER A REWARD FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR...as in " if you are good, I'll get you a treat".  The ONLY reaction they should ever get for good behavior is a smile, a hug and all the love you have to give.

post #31 of 45
Quote removed by moderator because content is against the user agreement - thank you to the member who flagged these posts.

The way things work around here is advice is offered, much like the food in your lengthy dissertation. Then, no further remarks, especially of such a personal nature, are given.
post #32 of 45

Gwen Daniel, two of your posts on this thread have been removed because they contained questionable content, attacking, name calling and profanity. Please check your PM box. 

post #33 of 45


 and www.susanlroberts.com i just went to an awesome workshop on mealtime success with her. she has some great ideas.

post #34 of 45
Originally Posted by katelove View Post

I wouldn't force it but I would keep offering new things as well. So for dinner I might cook three veggies including one that he will eat and put a very small serve of the two disliked ones on his plate as well as a larger serve of the one he did like. I wouldn't make him eat the other two but I would encourage him to taste or even just smell them. I'd also allow him to see me enjoying them.
As much as possible I'd honour the desire to not have things mixed together. So, if I were making a curry with vegetables in it then I would leave out a few pieces and steam them. A bit more work but not creating a whole separate meal.


This is pretty much what I do for my also incredibly picky 4 year old DD. In this manner I have been able to slowly add new foods to her list of "edibles". I also use a plate with dividers for her. It helps her see that everything is separate. She recently started eating baby spinach leaves (it's what we use for lettuce) if she can dip them in salad dressing that is in a separate compartment of the plate.


When she was a toddler, I often made her separate meals. Now I feel she is old enough to start eating the meal that I have with great effort prepared or go without. However, like katelove wrote, when serving one item she has not tried or has rejected in the past, I usually offer two that I know she will eat.


I have also found myself picking chicken out of a stir fry and serving it to her separate from the other ingredients, or serving her pasta before I toss it with sauce - a little extra work, but certainly easier than making an entire different meal.


When all else fails, I keep little containers of frozen macaroni and cheese in the freezer :)

post #35 of 45

Gwen Daniel: That's almost exactly how my mom handled my picky eating - and I stayed picky until my mid-to-late 30s. We've handled dd1 quite differently, and she's already expanding her horizons - voluntarily - at age nine. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.

post #36 of 45

It's not a quick and easy solution, but this is something that has helped us inadvertently... Gardening. I started growing vegetables at our local community garden last year, and took DS (then 3) with me to give DH some quiet time at home. DS loves to be outside, loves to dig in the dirt, and amazingly was very interested in the plants once they started growing. He'd ask what each one was, and if there was anything to be harvested, he'd get a taste. He didn't like the lettuce or greens much, but he ate tomatoes off the vine all summer and last winter was eating broccoli shoots right off the plants. He NEVER liked broccoli before! He likes carrots, but started eating them much more frequently once we started growing them. So maybe trying growing a plant or two in pots if you don't have time/space to garden, just so he can learn where the veggies come from and maybe he'll enjoy tasting different ones that way.

post #37 of 45
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

Gwen Daniel: That's almost exactly how my mom handled my picky eating - and I stayed picky until my mid-to-late 30s. We've handled dd1 quite differently, and she's already expanding her horizons - voluntarily - at age nine. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.


I think it's OK to do what works, and not to judge each other if someone finds that a different solution works better for them. By works, I mean, results in a child who eats enough nutritious food to grow and be healthy, and grows into an adult who can feed himself or herself competently. It's clear that parents and kids have had success with more than one approach. (A dinner guest who liked my cooking! Win.)  My experience has been like yours, Storm Bride, but I had a dinner guest who expressed gratitude that her mom took the other approach. We really have to stay loose and relaxed and trust ourselves and our own perceptions. 

post #38 of 45

By addressing the pickiness as a behavior issue rather than, perhaps a nutrition, allergy, or sensory issue, you end up missing things, but I do think that a lot of times, kids in the past were forced to overcome or ignore their sensory issues, allergie, or nutritional deficits to survive. The "kids won't starve" is an oldie, and while it's true that most younger kids, when given only highly nutritious foods, will probably meet most of their nutritional needs, there is a difference between survival and thriving. Some kids really do have problems, either with food sensitivities or sensory issues (and those two seem to feed each other), and if you ignore them and give them only a few foods (or they eat only a few foods) they may wind up malnourished. Also, once they are old enough to go to the store themselves, they will start to eat junk food to fill up, or trade their lunches at school, etc. I think if you address their issues (without making a big deal of it, just do a food diary and see if there is a pattern), you can help them to find good nutritious foods that they will eat. Some kids prefer veggies raw, for example, because cooked veggies have an odd texture that they have trouble with (especially if they have a tongue tie or oral skills deficits). Making sure they are getting plenty of good fats can be hard if they only like plain food.

I have a lot more to say about this, but I have kids to feed. :)

post #39 of 45

I think it is a very good thing when kids who are ABLE to overcome their infantile sensory issues are encouraged and supported in doing so. I don't think that children in previous centuries who were given plenty of food merely survived - I think that they thrived, in some ways more so than my TV-watching, videogame-playing 21st century brood. 


I don't want to torture autistic children, or children who get hives every time they eat broccoli. But those kids make up a tiny minority of the under-18 age bracket. The rest of juvenile humanity can darn well sit down, eat their meal, and say "thank you" to the person who served it. This is an excellent social rule for adult humanity as well. 

post #40 of 45
My family didn't, and *still* doesn't understand or accept how much torture I endured because they wanted (and want) to believe I have no food issues. Vomiting limited how much torture, but contrary to what they believed, I didn't force myself to vomit, so until the problems became severe enougj to cause vomiting, I suffered with feeling ill after meals. What has been proposed concerning putting food in front of a child, demanding the child eat it, and *thank* the uncaring person who put it there infuriates me.
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