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.
Being the parent and making sure we're in charge of choices is important. Ensuring that our child has the opportunity to experience a range of foods is critical.
Not swapping foods or only serving favourites is important.
However, if our child is very anxious around food then declaring "eat it or starve" can exacerbate the problem. We want our child to love food, not be fearful of it.
If we serve a new, intimidating food at dinner and expect our child to eat it or go to bed hungry, more than likely they will go to bed hungry. This would not make me enthusiastic about dinner nor more likely to eat that dish next time around.
Often power is at play. Children are adept at finding the things they are able to control and consciously or subconsciously leveraging that power. However, this need for control can often mask deeper issues such as anxiety around new foods.
Removing the power and ensuring that our child does not need to exert control is important.
However, working with families with picky eaters week in, week out I find most parents are actually working really hard to find a solution to their child's eating worries. Although they often worry that they have been part of the problem, it's not an issue of "spoiling" the child and being content for them to only eat nuggets and fries :)
Do you feel under scrutiny for what your child eats and get the "must be spoiled" stare?
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.