Parents often ask me for tips about what to do with their children who are fussy or picky eaters. Children can’t be expected to like every food put in front of them, adults don’t like all foods either. It’s how we handle the so called fussy eater that becomes the real problem. Children need to learn that they will eat what the family is eating, or they will have nothing. When your child tells you that he/she doesn’t like the food that is being offered and you run and make them something else so he/she won’t go hungry, your child has won! Parents should make one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner. Not several meals for all different members, just one meal for everyone. You may read this and think, ‘oh you don’t know MY child’. I do. I have raised 3 children and taught thousands of other children throughout the years and fussy/picky eaters only get exceptionally fussy when they find out you are only offering one meal and they won’t get what they want. The fussing may get louder while the child assumes that you will make him/her his own meal, however, don’t let the fussing bother you. Encourage your child to try the food that is being given. If he/she chooses not to try it, don’t make a huge issue, BUT, DO NOT give your child anything to eat until the next meal is offered. No snacks, no little bites of something, no food at all. (Of course, water or liquids are fine) Oh sure, you will get lots of sad, mad looks from your child and he/she might even tell you that he/she is hungry. When a child comes to the table hungry for the next meal, he/she will be more willing to try the new foods that are being put in front of him/her. Children like different textures of food. Do a little detective work and find out if your child likes crunchy food or creamy food and offer vegetables in the texture you know your child will eat or at least try. Of course, it is OK to make your child’s favorite foods from time to time, but your child must learn that he/she is part of a family and the family eats one meal and only one meal. Mom or Dad will no longer be making special meals for the fussy/picky eater.
Category Archives: Food
Breakfast is undoubtedly the most important meal of the day for children. After sleeping all night, kids wake up hungry and need energy to start their day. Going to school hungry makes kids only think about when they are going to eat, rather than about thinking and learning. Breakfast gives children the nutrients that they need to be successful at school. Children who eat a healthy breakfast have an improved concentration, a better attention span, focus better and perform better at school.
Here are some quick ideas for busy families:
- Fruit smoothies
- Cereal and milk in a to go cup
- Toast with cream cheese
- Egg and cheese sandwich
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Yogurt in squeezable tubes
- Whole grain breakfast bars
- Grain Bagels
- Warm milk with oatmeal
Prepare as much as possible the night before. Lay out what you need for breakfast on the counter, including bowls, utensils, etc. Place the items where your child is able to safely reach them so he/she can help out in the morning. Your child will do his/her best work in the classroom when he/she is sent to school prepared and fortified with a healthy breakfast.
Re-posted from August 2009
School is right around the corner and chances are your child will be asked to bring a snack to school. With more and more children showing allergies to food and the environment, many schools are requiring children to bring only fruit or vegetables for snacks at school. What we are also finding out is that more children are becoming identified with allergies after the start of the school year, so we must keep the school environment safe for all. Now, having fruits and vegetables sounds like a great and nutritious idea, but keep in mind how many fruits and vegetables there are that your child likes that you have to help prepare for your child. If you peel bananas and oranges, take the skin off and core and slice apples, or open a prepackaged container of apple sauce for your child now, then it is time for your child to start practicing these skills on his/her own in order to be able to eat snack independently in school. Not all children bring in snacks every day so most teachers will continue to teach and work with small groups while the children with snacks are eating. Please do not expect the teacher to help open 25-30 bananas etc. during snack time, there is just not enough time. It always amazes me the bananas, oranges and apples and even cucumbers that come to school and the children have no idea how to get to the fruit/vegetable on their own. Mom or Dad have always helped him/her at home. Please help your child enjoy his/her snack time at school by preparing the fruit at home. You could:
- peel an orange and put it in a container
- peel and slice an apple
- slice an apple but don’t peel it
- show your child how to start a banana on his/her own
- teach your child how to pull off the foil covering from packaged apple sauce, or fruit cups
- cut up strawberries and put in a container
- wash grapes and place in a container
- send in a small portion of raisins/craisins
- cut up cucumbers and place in a small container
- Please send in a plastic fork or spoon if the snack you send with your child cannot be eaten with fingers. Children need to refuel with a small snack mid-day so please help your child enjoy snack time by practicing now what to do with fruit.
Often parents will say my child does not like fruit or vegetables. It has been my experience that when a child is hungry, he/she will eat. At home there are other options when a fruit or vegetable is refused but during the day at school, there is only what you have brought in from home. Parents, help your child with this love of fruit and vegetables in order to promote a lifelong love of fruits and veggies.
Edited and Re-Posted from August 2009
Most children eat lunch at school. Many bring a lunch packed from home but the majority of students buy their lunch at school. There are many reasons for buying the lunch at school, convenience for parents, children want to be like the other kids who buy lunch, children ‘think’ it will taste good, and the list goes on and on. I would like to recommend to parents to find the time to buy healthy lunch choices for your child and pack him/her a lunch every day. School lunches are getting better, but, very slowly I might add. Per government regulation the children this year will be offered less carbohydrates and fatty food and more vegetables, but it is still not enough. Parents, would you want to eat what you ask your child to eat from the school cafeteria? Day after day after day, it does get boring and it is generally non-nutritious. The lunches are usually loaded with fat and carbohydrates and although they meet government regulations they do very sparingly. Children who eat lunch at school often make inappropriate food choices and should be learning to make food choices when mom or dad are nearby, not when they are on their own. On top of that most children who buy lunch at school have less time to eat than those who bring a lunch from home. No waiting in line, no decision making, no weaving through crowds of children while managing you lunch tray with food and drink on it. Children who bring lunches from home, get to sit right down as soon as they get to the cafeteria, often having at least 10 minutes more to eat than classmates who buy lunch. When you go shopping for lunch items, take your child with you. Talk about the foods you are choosing and if there are new foods to try, sample them at home before sending them to school with your child. The children who eat lunch at school for 183 days worry me because they are learning at a young age that food should be full of fat and carbohydrates in order to taste good. Come on parents, get your children to help you and let’s send them off to school with a home packed lunch every day.
Moms and dads very lovingly pack lunches for their first grade children. I see these wonderful lunches every day. What I also see are anxious first graders who have no idea how to open the containers that hold their food. Today’s blog will be quick. Parents, if you send a container that has to be opened by your child in order to get the food/drink for lunch, please make sure that he/she has practiced opening these containers at home. First graders struggle with thermoses, plastic containers that snap shut, pre-packaged food that has a removable lid, some types of juice boxes and if you can believe it, even straws. Please take the stress out of your child’s packed lunch by ensuring that he/she knows how to open..and close all of the containers in their lunch box. You might also want to remind your child that opened drinks, such as milk do not have to come back home in their lunch box.
I teach 2 sessions of ½ day Kindergarten every day and these children do not eat lunch at school. This past Friday, all of our Kindergartners had a chance to ‘try out’ the cafeteria, buy lunch and then eat it in the allotted time…just like a first grader. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! Starting with choosing white or chocolate milk to choosing 2 sides to go with the pizza, the walk through the cafeteria line took much longer than it should have. Then, once the children got to their assigned tables, the fun really began. Most of the children did not know how to open a small carton of milk, what to do with straw with paper on it, open their ice cream, or eat without managing to get some of it on the floor. Yikes! It seems to be that some practice for these soon to be first graders who will be eating lunch at school in the fall is in order. Parents, try offering your child choices with your meals at home. I don’t mean a choice of the main course, but maybe a choice of a drink, or choice of a vegetable, or even a choice of a dessert. There won’t be enough adults in the cafeteria to help all of these first graders if they don’t do some practicing at home to get ready. The other part of eating in the cafeteria is time management. Many schools schedule 30 minutes per class to enter the cafeteria, go through the line, eat, clean up and get in line to wait for your teacher, so time management skills are of the utmost importance. Many children on Friday wanted to start their lunch with their ice cream…they’re children so that seemed like a good idea to them. However, ice cream alone would not give them the protein or energy needed to get through an afternoon of math, social studies and science. Teach your child to eat the main course first and then attack that dessert..if there is time. I don’t want your child to get an ulcer worrying about eating in the school cafeteria, but try showing a clock to your own child before a meal and teaching them about using time properly while eating and visiting in the school cafeteria. It will be a smooth transition for your child eating lunch in the school cafeteria if some time is spent between now and September going over Cafeteria 101 with your child.