Most parents either reach the stage where they almost give up on fussy eating or go through phases where it's just all too hard so they stop trying for a while.
Ironically, this is not always a bad thing. Constantly being worried/stressed/guilty is not positive for us and by extension for our families. Being able to step back from the eating and focus on all the other positive things that are happening for us and for our child is a good thing.
Having our child consistently in the eating spotlight is not supportive of competent eating either so often stepping back may enable them to step forwards.
If though, you are finding that you have reached a point where your child has not made any progress for a long time or definitely if they are going backwards then it's time to look for support.
Often knowing what's normal, what's a phase and when to press the worry button is reassuring. Check out the check-list on the website if you're not sure where your child sits in terms of their eating:
I know many parents live with years of frustration, guilt and stress as they feel that tackling their child's eating is just too tall a mountain. Like many things we wait for the "right" time and that never seems to roll around.
The longer we leave it the more insurmountable it seems, and the more we feel our child is going to be the one that can't be helped.
1. Much of what we implement at The Confident Eater is positive, non-stressful and is great for both parents and children. I know that parents are often surprised at how enthusiastic children are about many of the changes we implement.
2. You are gifted bite-sized chunks that you can tackle at your own pace. A plan that can be followed. Practical strategies that are simple to implement. Language, structure and approaches that make sense.
3. You are the difference. In almost all cases parents are the ones best placed to support their child. You know your child best. You have a vested interest in making sure they are supported to be as eating competent as possible. Knowing that you can enable change, that you have a plan and know how to do things is very empowering.
This is not always true (we'll get to that) but for many picky eaters it's the easiest meal of the day. Parents often tell me that they have no issues with breakfast.
1. We have been asleep for hours (hopefully) and therefore not eating. Having an appetite supports eating.
2. Dinner is often the most challenging meal of the day. If our child hasn't eaten much then it will mean that they are really looking forward to eating in the morning.
I was delighted to be asked to write for TeachersMatter. A magazine published by Spectrum Education, distributed to teachers across Australia and NZ (and internationally via the web). The magazine focuses on educational topics for teachers/parents, supporting children's development.
My first article discusses whether picky eating is a problem and focuses on children at the extreme end of the eating spectrum.I'm really pleased to be able to share it with you:
I love receiving e-mails like this!
Every picky child is different meaning results vary between families so, I'm always delighted when there is a really dramatic change.
This little boy, Oliver* was 2 1/2, so younger than the children I would generally work with. However, he was also one of the children who stopped eating variety very early on.
Like many children who struggle to eat, Oliver wasn't eating any family foods at all during dinner and couldn't wait to leave the table.
During the first week after attending a personalised Parent Workshop his parents implemented a series of changes. Oliver responded really positively and was able to try several new foods.
Most importantly he is happy to be at the dinner table which is huge for the whole family.
Not everyone sees magical results but there are many families who do. If you'd like to understand more about what we do and what expectations are for your own situation please get in touch.
I'm happy to speak to anyone who'd like to know whether one of our programs are right for them.
(*Story shared with permission. Name changed for privacy)
is is something I hear all the time. Parents are concerned/ or are told that they have just "given in" to their children's food requests and have created the problem of a limited diet.
General gossip and other parents explaining how their 4 children all eat so well as they "just make them eat what is on the plate" is usually unhelpful and can actually be poor advice.
If you have a toddler then making sure they get a wide range of food experiences (even if they are refusing many foods) is important. Continually offering the foods you'd like them to eat is key in getting them comfortable with a wide variety of foods.
This is one of my favourite phrases.
If we don't have books we don't learn to read. Similarly, not being served foods prevents us from learning to eat them.
And I appreciate that many picky eaters find new foods on their plate distressing. But, therein lies the paradox. If they are not able to even contemplate a food on their plate, they are certainly not going to be considering putting it in their mouth.
If we're gently able to have our child come into frequent contact with new foods, they are one step closer to eventually being able to eat it.
Often contact with food in a non-threatening arena is easier. So, handling foods when it's not about eating eg. at the supermarket may be a great start.
you have a picky eater that freaks out when presented with a new food but then happily accepts a different sweet?
This is really common and baffles and frustrates parents in equal measure. How come they can eat a new lolly without even checking how it's going to taste but need to know whether an onion has been waved over the sausage?
It's all about comfort levels. If our child has had previous good experiences when branching out within the sweets/ cookie/ cake categories then it builds their confidence. It give them a positive feedback loop where their expectations are set to good. They anticipate the new food tasting great and are therefore comfortably able to take the risk.
his is a big part of what we do at The Confident Eater.
When it comes to advice on issues like eating and sleeping there are a million different opinions. It can get overwhelming and confusing.
What we do is provide a very easy to understand list of practical strategies that will work with your child in your family. We'll also suggest what could be counter productive.
We'll look at every meal and give you a plan that will support eating more widely, learning to tackle new foods willingly and how to put the joy back into food for your child with their specific dietary needs.
I was in a meeting today and a business coach said this. It really resonated with me as I believe it's an important part of why picky eaters get stuck in limiting patterns.
The habits are habitual, as in they are things that we just do without thinking. Brushing teeth, getting dressed in a particular order, cooking peas a certain way etc.
This is one of the huge hurdles we face as parents when we have a picky eater. They have habits on habits in regards to food. So many of their decisions become automatic rather than being the result of conscious thought.
If I had a dollar for every parent that said to me "I know they'd like x if they just tried it". But their child just says an automatic no without even considering the try. This is the power of habit.
Unfortunately, this is compounded by us, the parents. We too have our habits and we approach meals in the same way every day, we serve things a particular way and we use the same language and responses over and over again.
When I work with parents I always ask them to look at their side of the dance. If we are repeating the same steps every day it's very easy for our child to repeat theirs.
For us to expect a change in our child it's important that we too expect to make changes.
Are there words or phrases that you find yourself repeating? Is there a pattern to the way that you serve meals and snacks? Have you spent time thinking about this or trying a change?
What is one thing that you often say in regards to food? If you don't think there is one ask the family. I sometimes (foolishly) do this and get a barrage of answers ...
I'd love to hear some favourites and will give some suggestions on how to change the conversation, where I can.
Judith is passionate about good food and is even more passionate about enabling other people to enjoy the wide variety of fresh food available today.