One of the biggest issues parents seek advice for is enticing their children to eat. First and foremost, keep in mind your child knows when they are hungry and when they are not, and they have days, just like we adults do, when they eat lots and other days when they don’t eat so much. Food often becomes a battle between parents and children and I challenge parents to not let that happen – it only creates a power struggle which is no fun for anyone.
Food should be something which is enjoyable and fun, and from my perspective support growth and development, as well as promote health and well being in our children. So how do you make the change – easy, make a deal with yourself to not say anything. Serve the food you have prepared, sit down to dinner and enjoy it. Make conversation, ask about your child’s day, eat your dinner, but don’t say anything about the food. Let you child decide what to eat and how much to eat. I know it won’t be easy, but just try it, see what happens…
You can make this process a little easier and much more enjoyable by having fun with your meals as well. Here are five ways to make food fun for you and your family:
Silly Faces and Funny Names
Make silly faces out of your child’s meal, spell their name with spaghetti noodles, come up with funny names for food —- do whatever it takes to make the meal fun and take the emphasis off of eating.
Use Wooden Skewers
These are not just for barbecuing; why not use them to serve dinner any night. You can load up a skewer with your child’s favourite raw veggies, serve with some dip and voila – lots of fun. Serve up fruit kabobs for an afternoon snack or load up a skewer with bite sized chunks of steamed veggies and serve alongside the main dish. It is simple, but effective and the kids will love it!
Change up Meal Time
Does your child love pancakes? Why not serve up pancakes for dinner; served with a fruit kabob I bet it would go over very well. If sandwiches are a hit with your child – serve it up for dinner with a bowl of soup…perfect match. Think outside the box and take a risk, it just might pay off.
Serve Yourself Night
Instead of always plating your children’s meals; set up a serve yourself night. Put all the food on the table and let everyone decide what they will put on their plate. You will be surprised to see what they choose to eat when they have the control. It is fun for your child to be in control and making the decision about what to eat.
Don’t Eat at the Table
Yes eating together at the table is important; yes it has many, many benefits for both you and your children, but once in a while switch it up. Forget the dinner table and set up a picnic – outside in the summer or in the family room in the winter. As a kid I remember my parents having taco night once a week – they would put my brother and I to bed and then set it up on a blanket in the family room and enjoy a quiet evening together. As my brother and I got older they began to include us in taco night – I can’t tell you how much we looked forward to taco night, the four of us in the family room on the floor making our own tacos, eating then while watching a movie – it was a blast.
Food should not be a challenge, it should be fun. If you are struggling with your children over food, take a step back, try something new and let your child lead. It won’t be easy, but it can be fun if you make it fun!
What have you done to make food fun for your children?