When Diane Levy promised to share her insights on fussy eaters and toilet training with me, I was thrilled. When Jack was a baby I had attended one of Diane’s courses at the Auckland Parenting Place on Getting Your Toddler to Eat. I was convinced that Jack was a terrible eater….until I attended the course and heard horror stories from other mothers about children who only ever ate one particular brand of yoghurt for every meal or threw their plates at their stressed parents.
There is no doubt that mealtimes is one of the most stressful aspects of parenting.
Here Diane shares her tips on how to get a fussy eater to eat…
- Our job as a parent is to offer food to our child when they are hungry. It is up to them what they do with it.
- If you know you have a fussy eater then do not overspend time and energy on making dinner as you will be fraught and tense before you even serve food.
- The end of the day is always the time when they are most exhausted so try to make this mealtime as easy for everyone as possible eg carbs could just be a sandwich or pasta if that is easier than peeling a potato.
- Breakfast – your child may not be hungry as soon as they wake up in the morning – they could be a 9am eater for example…so, if it means a honey sandwich in the back of the car to get them to Kindy in time then that’s fine too.
- Children’s tastes change – they may love broccoli on Tuesday but hate it on Thursday. Just take a deep breath and know it will change again by Saturday.
- You can never win a feeding battle – it will end in tears – so don’t battle and don’t get uptight about how much your child eats.
- If your child doesn’t want to eat their dinner and says they’re not hungry then say ‘that’s fine’ and let them get down and put their plate to one side. If they come back 10mins later and say they’re hungry, say ‘That’s fine, darling. I saved your dinner for you.’ and represent their dinner. If they say they are not hungry for dinner but they are hungry for ice-cream then let them know pleasantly it is not going to happen!
- If they genuinely don’t like something then don’t keep putting it in front of them – by constantly representing it you are not taking into account their feelings and likes & dislikes.
- Change around mealtimes – make it a picnic dinner or dinner in the garden or sit down with them and have your meal at the same time as children always eat better when you are eating with them.
- Children can be extremely stubborn and battle over mealtimes can be constant and depressing. Take the mileage out of the food and let it be appetite driven. Serve what you know the child reasonably likes and take the hassle out of mealtimes.
- Don’t make a big deal out of a meal.
- If your child refuses to eat a meal, don’t then go and make another meal for them. You are not a smorgasbord and your kitchen is not a restaurant!
- How do you know when a child is ready to toilet train? You assume as a parent that they will turn 2 1/2 or 3years and they will naturally be ready to potty train. That’s not quite true. Often a child shows us signs that they are aware of their toileting but we can easily miss them. eg if a child tells you that they have weed in their nappy or they are pooing in their nappy – that is fabulous as it shows you that they are aware of their body. It is now time to try!
- When you want to start them on the potty then give them a large glass of water then 30 mins later pop them on the potty. Practice this often so they get the experience of sitting on the potty. Get into the habit of clock-watching and brightly saying: “Time to check if there is a wee hiding in there…” pop them on the potty and count to 20. If there is no wee then say ‘Oops I was no…there was no wee in there..’ / if they do go then say ‘Yay! we were right – there was a wee in there.’ and make your child feel part of it.
- Do not ask: “Do you want to go?” as more often than not they will say they don’t even if they do.
- If they are jiggling around…big tip – get them to the toilet quickly!
- Don’t lose your cool – show the child there is no big deal and take the angst out of it.
Last week I spoke with Diane about temper tantrums, getting children to do as they are told and heaps more. You can check out last week’s blog here: Diane Levy Blog 1
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