Middle E likes to push back during meal times. I never make it a battle…anymore. I’ve learned to make sure he knows the expectations and why those are the expectations. At our house we try to to have fruit and veggies at every meal. Even breakfast. (Spinach omelette anyone?)
I hear from frustrated moms all the time about toddler push-back during meal times. My answer is usually the same and it sounds a bit like this, “Power struggles are just part of being a toddler. It’s not necessarily about the actual food.” When we bring anger, sarcasm, or the dreaded “picky eater” label to the table it only undermines our mission of teaching life long health to our kids.
At the Don’t Panic Mom table this week:
Me: (I place an apple on Middle E’s place mat)
Middle E: (With all the indignation a 3-year-old can muster) I don’t WANT an apple!
Me: That’s fine. But you need to have fruit with breakfast.
Middle E: But I don’t WANT AN APPLE!
Me: You need fruit to fuel up this morning. You need to choose an apple, an orange, or a banana.
Middle E: (Whining, more whining)
Me: (Place the options on his place mat and walk away)
Middle E: (After a few minutes chomps into an apple. My evidence is pictured above.)
I didn’t yell. Nor did I do a victory dance when he started eating the apple. I sometimes forget the confidence that kids feel when they are able to make their own choices. But it’s our job to provide the standards for those choices. In this case, the standard at our house is to eat fruit and/or vegetables at each meal. Kids can understand expectations, even a 3 year-old. Stock your pantry and fridge with lots of good stuff. Then eating well doesn’t feel like deprivation.
Don’t panic if you’ve struggled with feeding a toddler and you’ve had cereal for dinner to avoid a fight. (Hmmm… I’ve done this one.) The point of life is progress. Let’s do this together.
What battles do you have at the dinner table? Read these articles, you’ll love them as much as I do.
- Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater from the American Heart Association
- Solving the Toddler Food Jag from Dina Rose at It’s Not About Nutrition
- 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Child About Food from Maryann at Raising Healthy Eaters
- No Hassle Feeding: Outsmarting Picky Eaters Series from Maryann at Raising Healthy Eaters
- The Feeding Strategy Every Parent Needs in Their Toolbox from Maryann at Raising Healthy Eaters
Recommended reads from Don’t Panic Mom: