A mother’s worst nightmare: a child who refuses to eat. Why is feeding a child such a chore? Rest assured a child is not likely go hungry except for very obvious medical reasons or less obvious psychological ones. Fussy eating is a behavioural problem of children and the parents. Parents are in charge of food like most things in a kids’ life. Good eating habits are to be taught and exhibited by all members of the family. Below are listed a few reasons and what one could do.
- Bowel movements- When a child does not empty his bowels he won’t be able to enjoy good appetite.
- Dental issues (oral health) - A painful tooth or an ulcer is a major cause why a kid may avoid his meals. Unless a parent looks into a kid’s mouth, a sore mouth caused by an infection like thrush may be difficult for a child to tell.
- Illnesses like asthma, cough, fever causes loss of appetite in kids. Even an over tired child prefers liquids to solids foods which sidelines the full square meal.
- Absence of a parent/close family member due to travelling, death/divorce, change of home, loss of a friend or sibling causes emotional disturbance, lessening the desire to eat.
- Pressure at home on the child to eat like force feeding, scolding, threats will take her away from food. Likewise, pressure/bullying at school may be a reason for loss of appetite.
- Raised taste threshold -Excess of spiced junk food or outside food may make a child dislike home-made food.
- Lack of physical activity -Slows down metabolism and also the appetite.
- Snacking between meals -Disturbs main meals. Not having a schedule for meals is also a reason.
- Repetitive or excessively variable menus make it difficult for the child to adapt. Too many food choices form a habit of ‘refusing all’.
- Parent's Attitude -Overwhelmed,fussy, angry mothers/parents. A child reacts negatively in general when she feels pressured.
What can be done:
Parents remember you are in-charge.
- Educate yourself and your kids on good foods and eating habits.
- Consistency is the key- Plan your meals and eat it on schedule.
- Avoid emotional eating-Food should not be used as rewards or bribes or punishments.
- Kids eat what adults eat. So no short-order cooking. Include a range of real foods including vegetables. Treats should be occasional.
- Eat family meals together, without distractions of T.V, gadgets, games and books. Work while you work,play while you play & eat while you eat- is what I mean.
- Say ‘You don’t have to like it but you have to taste it’. Say this to your kid at every meal.
- Instead of snacks take mini meals. It’s okay to feel hungry between meals.
- Take along your kid to the grocery to buy fruits & vegetables. Ask him to choose that which he wants to eat ,one by one, each time. Avoid going to a departmental store along with your kid where racks are filled with junkies.
- Serve full menu to your kid as you do to other family members.No options or choices be given among the food preparations. Convince him the importance of balanced diet.
- Two is a company- Eating alone is boring. Siblings or sometimes friends form a good company while having meals. They see it & they do it !