Parenting Blog

7 Strategies to “Table” Picky Eating – Without Picking a Food Fight

Do any of these mealtime classics ring a bell? Vegetable shaming? Feeding Fido? Flat out refusing to eat?

I hear you. As a busy working mom with two sons who had “discriminating tastes” when they were younger, I know all about “picky” problems and mealtime meltdowns.

Ready for some drama-free dining?

Try these seven strategies the next time your child decides to stonewall you at meal time:

1. Let go of the labels. The truth is, when we label our kid’s eating habits – we compound problems. For example, if you have a picky eater and you’ve made that clear with phrases like, “Oh, she doesn’t eat that,” or “He’s so picky – he’ll ONLY eat mac and cheese.” Guess what? Your children will “not eat that” and “only eat mac and cheese.” With those labeling comments, you hand your child permission to continue that behavior. You also rob them of the chance to accept and enjoy new foods.

On the flip side – using positive labels around eating also creates more problems than it solves. Think about it – when you label one child the “good eater” – his sibling can only assume he’s the “bad eater” setting up an environment for sibling rivalry to thrive. Bottom line – avoid labels, positive or negative.

2. Take control. (Of the pantry, that is.) While getting kids to make healthy food choices can be tough, one thing that makes it easier is to ditch what you DON’T want them to eat. All the sugary snacks and starch-rich junk food in your home… remove them from your pantry and refrigerator! If all you have on hand is healthy alternatives – then healthy is what they’ll eat.

If kids consistently leave most of their dinner on the plate, that’s a clue to close the pantry (and fridge) at least an hour or two before mealtime.

3. Shut down the discussion. What kids eat or how much they eat should not be a debate every night. As the parent, your job is to plan and execute healthy meals for your kids. When you include at least one healthy item that you know your child will eat, you’ve done your job. After that? Leave it be. Your well-intended “just try a bite” and “how do you know you don’t like it if you won’t try it?” remarks open the door for an ongoing power struggle around food.

4. Don’t overplay your hand. If you are overly-invested in your kids making the “clean plate club,” you are giving them the power to create a problem. Serve the meal, then let the chips (figuratively speaking!) fall where they may. The more anxious you are about mealtime and who eats what, the more anxious (and potentially manipulative) your kids will be about it.

5. Don’t make food a reward. How many times have you heard, “If you eat your vegetables, you’ll get dessert?” Food, even the sweet treats, are something to be enjoyed as a family, not to be used a bargaining chip for good behavior or finishing your meal. When dessert is held up as the “good stuff to get to after you choke down your broccoli” – that’s what kids will crave, for sure!

6. Try, try again. Don’t write off a type of food because of one bad experience. Feel free to get science-y and let your kids know that taste buds regenerate every ten days to two weeks. Wow! That means just because you don’t like something today doesn’t mean it won’t end up on the favorites list later. Keep tasting and trying – they might find they like it!

7. Make meals an “all in” experience. Meals are more fun and engaging when everyone is part of the process. From table setting to food prep to even choosing menus and picking out produce – when everyone is in, kids are less likely to pitch a fit about the finished product.

Bottom line? Have some fun in the kitchen. Take some of the drama out of mealtime and add a touch of food fun with your time together.

If power struggles at mealtime or bedtime or chore time continue to get you down, join us for a free parenting webinar: Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling . You’ll be glad you did! Find dates and times here.

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From award-winning Youth Speaker and Teen Expert, Josh Shipp

We are thrilled to welcome Josh Shipp to Positive Parenting Solutions!  Josh is a renowned expert on teens and teen solutions. In celebration of his new book, we asked Josh to share his latest research on teens and lying.

Most parents wish they could somehow get inside the mind of their teenager. 

As someone who has worked with thousands of teens and parents for over a decade, I have a direct line of communication that allows me to ask some tough questions. With so much in the news recently about the issues teens have been grappling with (from suicide to cyber bullying), I wanted to know what teens are actually thinking about these topics. So I asked our online community of 13-18 year olds and 1,843 of them responded.

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We are thrilled to welcome Dayna Abraham to the blog!  Dayna is a long-time friend of Positive Parenting Solutions.  She offers helpful and practical advice for kids who have sensory processing differences and intense emotions. In celebration of her new book, we’ve asked Dayna to share her best tips to help kids through tough transitions. Enjoy!

It happens every time. We’ve been out with the family on a nice outing and on the way home I decide to stop by the grocery store for a few things for dinner. Everything seems to go perfectly well until we get home and then magically, my son, my sweet loving, hugging son, suddenly turns into this massive ball of frustration.

He needs me for everything.

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This is it. That time of year when it hits you – summer’s in full swing and there’s no school reprieve. Let the “what do we do NOW” chants begin.

There is hope, however, for getting through the “dog days” of summer without losing your marbles, your patience or your temper. Let’s take a look at some fun strategies to help you keep your cool and make some terrific memories with your kids this season.

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(And How You Can Help Him Answer Them)

We are thrilled to welcome pediatrician and best-selling author, Dr. Meg Meeker, to share her wisdom about the important role fathers play in a child’s life.

When I was 8 years old, my father took me to work with him on Saturday mornings to Mass General Hospital in Boston. I would sit at his gigantic desk, spin in his chair and when he finished, we would walk to a pastry shop and have a snack. He ordered coffee and I drank hot chocolate. As I look back, it feels like my father took me every Saturday, but truth be told, he probably only took me four or five times. But on those Saturday mornings, I felt important and loved.

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6 Tips for Raising Independent Children

As parents, it feels good—great even —when our kids NEED us. When they turn to us for guidance, affection, even that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Those are all good things.

We do have to remind ourselves, however, our long-term parenting goal is to guide our kids from being totally dependent on us to being independent thinkers and doers. That’s no overnight task.

It happens in all the little moments and lessons that occur in the day-to-day. From little steps like letting them pick out their own clothes to tying their own shoes, to helping them learn to weigh out what to spend their allowance on to choosing a college that suits them. Every little decision they make, right or wrong, along the way is a learning experience that will help lead them to be independent people we can be proud of.

Then, the thrill you get when you see them take on a task all by themselves and win at it? That’s awesome! If you’re eager to see more of that, let’s look at ways to help your kids embrace independence.

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