According to feeding therapists at Kids First Children’s Services in Brookvale, many families lead busy lives that make it difficult for their fussy eater to experience consistent dinner time routines.
Below, they share some easy ways to help your fussy eater get used to sitting at the table.
Make family meals the norm
Whenever possible, try to involve your children in consistent meal time experiences.
Regardless of whether you’re eating breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a snack together, knowing what will happen during that time will help your fussy eater to be more familiar with the concept of gathering together to eat.
A family meal should start with the routine of setting the table and then each person serving themselves some food.
This way your children retain some element of choice and power, and for many fearful or fussy eaters, this is important.
During your family meals, try to ensure that everyone (including your fussy eater) is offered each of the foods on the table and given a chance to try them.
This means that the focus is not always on the child whose eating is a problem, taking social pressure off your fussy feeder.
Help your fussy eater know what to expect
Children need predictability and this is especially true for anxious, fussy or problem feeders.
Every meal at home should have
- A beginning (set up routine – e.g. setting the table)
- A middle (eating and talking)
- An end (clean up routine – e.g. clearing dishes, scraping food into bin, loading the dishwasher)
Mind your own mealtime manners
Remember, when you have a child who is a fussy eater, social role modelling is key.
If you really want your child’s fussy eating problems to be overcome, you need to act in the way that you want your child to behave when everyone is at the dinner table,.
A calm positive voice, visible gestures like smiles and plenty of interesting conversation about your day can make meal-times more pleasurable for children who are fussy eaters (and you!)
Try not to talk about the food, or what your child is eating.
When fussy eaters become anxious about their mealtime moves being scrutinized, appetite-suppressing adrenalin is released, making it even less likely that they will try a new food.
And just a reminder … if you want your kids to focus on conversation and connection at the family dinner table, it’s helpful to be a good role model.
When you make mealtimes a ‘phone free zone’, your children will know that they have your attention and support.
© 2018 Kids First Children’s Services
Kids First Feeding Clinic
At Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches, your fussy eater can be supported by therapists who are accredited in the SOS Approach to Feeding protocol. This family-friendly method supports children and parents with strategies designed to encourage kids to try new and different foods.
If we can help your child, please call us on 9938 5419.