5 Mistakes (some) Parents Make When Praising Their Picky Eater

5 Mistakes (some) Parents Make When Praising Their Picky Eater

It’s not that “bad” parenting is the reason why kids are picky eaters. In my classes in the United States, I tell the audience that children with severe feeding issues are often there because of a problem with their sensory, motor, or physiological development. As a result, they quickly learn how to limit the food they eat.

A baby with severe gastroesophageal reflux (chronic reflux is a symptom) will learn to delay breast- or bottle-feeding until the hunger pangs outweigh the heartburn. They will usually only eat about 2 ounces and stop abruptly when the pain is more intense than the hunger. The child may still have difficulty swallowing if the medication is used to treat the pain. This is because they need to “unlearn’ the lesson that food hurts.

Learning to be adventurous eaters is rooted in the trust that food will bring pleasure to children of all ages. Good parenting is based on a trusting relationship with your child.

Parents of “picky” eaters who are concerned about their child’s nutrition can make mistakes if they over-praise or cheerlead their children during mealtimes. The parents are usually very good at saying “awesome,” and “good job,” but the hesitant eaters do not trust these overused phrases. The child quietly thinks to himself, “Mom always says that,” and it doesn’t have much impact.

The Huffington Post shared a recent article by Amy McCready about how to praise children, listing five mistakes made by well-intentioned parents. In her footsteps, I would like to share with you my versions of these same mistakes. Like Amy’s Huff Post piece, I have also offered antidotes to build trust and encourage your child’s exploration of new foods.

1. It’s Yummily !” We all say “delicious” and “tasty,” but do we really mean it? These descriptors are meaningless to a child who doesn’t like trying new foods. Even if you use the most convincing voice, the hesitant eater might not believe that the first bite will be delicious.

Use words that describe your sensations in your mouth to give the substance of your comment. When tasting yogurt, use words such as “smooth,” “tart,” or “creamy.” Teaching preschoolers to describe sensations gives them a vocabulary foundation to compare other tastes and textures. Next time you taste a similar but new food, you can use this anchor to say, “This avocado dip is smooth, like yogurt. But I don’t believe it’s as tart. Tell me what you think after you lick it.” You are really learning to distinguish between the two.

2. Do not comment on your child’s “Good Job” if they haven’t earned it. This happens to me whether it is an 8-month-old who finishes their bottle or a 16-month-old who joins the empty-plate club. Parents may have been trying to teach their children the meaning of “empty” and “done,” but they are actually praising them for something that happened simply because they were hungry. Even 1-year-olds will soon learn to eat much more than necessary because their parents encouraged them. The most important thing is that children learn to listen to their body signals. Allow them to decide whether they want to eat anymore.

The Antidote to Sometimes it takes courage to try something new! The first time I tried a raw oyster, I felt brave.
You can give him silly feedback in order to lighten the mood and acknowledge that he has done something difficult. If your child is willing to spoon Brussels sprouts on his plate, and it’s their first time eating them, then you can give him silly feedback.
With B-sprouts, respond with, “Wow, that B-sprout balanced just like a Seal balances a Ball!” You are telling your child that you saw him balancing, and that is a difficult skill to learn. You’re also rewarding him for trying something new.
You’ve just made him proud of his achievement.

3. Kids hate the teacher’s pet unless they are the ones who wear the label. When we praise a friend or sibling for being an “adventurous eater” and then praise the hesitant eater in the same way, we’re essentially promoting the reluctant eater.
Telling him, “And you’re and not” is the same as hanging a blinking sign over his head reading “PICKY FEVER” so that the whole community can see it. In this way, neighbors become more aware.
When your picky eater comes to visit, they always serve macaroni & cheese because they know that he will eat it. For class parties, the same pizza is ordered because many of the children are picky eaters. Dinner is usually at a specific restaurant.
The same old children’s menu is no longer enough. Our new book includes a variety of recipes.
In collaboration with Dr. Nimali Fernando, a pediatrician (Dr. Yum), we suggest calling all members of the family “food-explorers,” with the understanding that each person has their comfort zone in terms of trying new foods. Over time,
They’ll expand that comfort zone to include even more foods. Expanding that comfort zone always involves exposing children to new food experiences, whether it’s at friends’ houses, schools, or restaurants.

The Antidote: Exhibit, Explore, and Expand. Parents who present healthy foods with a smile and encourage food exploration through food preparation, play, and other activities will see their children expand the range of foods they are willing and able to try over time. It doesn’t really matter who is the best when the whole family is involved in food exploration. What matters is how much fun it is to do together. Encourage the entire family, and do not single out anyone.

4. It’s like saying to your husband, “My first spouse loved to vacuum …” and expecting him to rush to the nearest Hoover to plug it in.

The Antidote encourages everyone in the family to take part when it comes to food. It’s not a competition to see who is the best; it’s a way to make positive food interactions ingrained in your family’s culture. How? How? Children can plan the meals for their family, help with grocery shopping and gardening, or even visit farmer’s market. These family outings are a great way to promote wellness, and everyone loves doing them together. No matter which child is less willing to try vegetables, everyone can enjoy the experience.
His big brother is a broccoli fanatic. Even a 3-year-old can assist in prioritizing healthy living by creating a simple grocery list. That’s something we should encourage! (See Amy’s version:

5. The parents may mean to encourage their children, but the kids will interpret it as: “I told you you’d love it !” I was right, and you were wrong.”

The Antidote: Talk about his food discovery and the journey that led him to it: “I also like that – it is crunchy!” or “It’s taken me a long time to learn to love asparagus, so I am excited to try new asparagus recipes with you.”

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