My 6 yo daughter, who used to eat pretty much everything I'd put in front of her, has recently decided she doesn't like much like anything other than fruit, bread, yogurt, and cheese. Oh, and of course anything that could be considered "dessert". We've tried the bribe thing - "You only get dessert if you eat all your dinner", which I don't like and doesn't work. I really don't want to make her a separate meal, and I worry about the lack of variety in her foods. I send her with lunch to school, and everything but the fruit and yogurt comes home uneaten. Then she refuses to eat it. I'm not sure what the proper thing to do here is, I want a balance of her being able to make choices for herself and also getting good nutrition.
I'm sure others experience this. It's so frustrating because she's never been picky before, I've always been able to feed her whatever. What do you do to get your kid to eat?!
Does this happen just with lunch sent to school? The reason I am asking is I have been hearing from other parents whose kids are v. good eaters that they bring their school lunch back and come home v. hungry and cranky.
Another factor to consider is do the kids that get school lunch eat together with kids that bring lunch from home. School lunch usually has tasty, junk food being offered like burgers and pizzas. it could be your dc wants the same as them.
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If the problem is with school lunches it could also be the time she has to eat. You might try sending less, mostly what she wants, and serve a snack as soon as she gets home.
If it's lunch, send less. The kids don't have tons of time. Bringing lunch makes things go faster since she doesn't have to get in line. But, maybe between socializing and eating, she just doesn't have much time to finish.
Eventually kids learn to eat fast, but still it's easier if you make the lunch very easy to get into. I like those Ziplock containers with just a lid, and some compartments.
As far as other meals go, just put the meal you are serving out on the plate, and she'll eat what she wants, and leave what she doesn't. Just make sure you serve larger portions of the things you know she likes, but less of the things you know she doesn't like. Seconds are for those who eat a reasonable amount of everything. If you leave your salad untouched, but eat all your butter bread, you probably aren't that hungry.
I read somewhere that North America is the only country where we make special meals for our kids, plus we let them snack and graze all day. We also have an extremely high obesity rate. Anybody who has worked hard as an adult to regain their health will say they have changed their whole lifestyle. It's hard work. It's easier to do that while they are young, than it is to start making separate meals for kids, and one for adults. Especially if you offer a variety at each meal.
Caveat - my response is based on the fact that the child is offered healthy, energy-sustainable choices at every meal - the parent decides what, the child decides how much - the child makes the choice how much (or if) to eat. I also believe that protein (and a little fat) provide the longest sense of fullness.
My perspective: Healthy children when offered healthy choices will not voluntarily starve to the point of risk to health. If a child doesn't eat one meal, the next meal looks better. 1 day or 2 days are inconsequential to a child's physical development. Don't fight, just offer normal well-adjusted meals. If she wants what is offered, fine. If not, next meal might look better.
Anecdote: yesterday, my (5 year yo) daughter wanted "oreos" (organic version) for dinner. My response - "No" - she bickered and disagreed. I said "this is what we are having for dinner - you're expected to eat some protein (in this case, it was fish that she'd eaten before, so it was nothing new).
She refused - I calmly said fine. She didn't eat dinner. Next morning, she tried to grab the aforementioned cookies for breakfast. "No, every meal has some protein - here your smoothie". She drank her banana, protein powder, egg smoothie.
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