Thursday, 20 June 2013

Coping with mealtime melt-downs

Family mealtimes can constitute a challenge at the best of times. This can be particularly true if you add a fussy eater into the equation. However, more and more parents are becoming increasingly aware that a balanced diet should form part of a healthy routine for any child.

A parent’s frustration is often compounded by consistent failed attempts to cajole a child into eating a bite of yet another carefully prepared meal that inevitably remains uneaten. Similarly, a child’s anxiety surrounding new and strange food textures and flavours can manifest itself in stubborn or aggressive behaviour. The heightened atmosphere created by a parent’s sharp attention will only serve to exacerbate an already anxious child and intensify a stressful situation.

Create a relaxed environment

However, there is an effective way of managing incendiary mealtimes and that is by trying to relax. Children absorb the emotional climate around them. So keeping your cool can help to reduce mealtime altercations. There is every chance that even the fussiest eater will still manage to ingest the appropriate dietary intake, so why not consider channelling your efforts into creating a healthy and enjoyable eating environment instead. Encourage your children to explore new foods and lead by example. Allow kids to have an input into family dinner ideas by participating in cooking and preparing meals with you. Kids love to help with measuring and mixing ingredient and this is something they can do without danger of injury. Handling different foodstuffs will also make them familiar with different products and encourage them to try new foods.

It can be equally beneficial to allow your children to choose an ingredient from the supermarket that they’ve never tried before – offering them the chance to explore different foods. It’s worth persisting with previously refused foodstuffs too as you may find children are more receptive to certain foods after a couple of tries. Ask them for feedback on why they don’t like or won’t try a particular good and see what you can do to help.

Children’s tastes and whims can be as changeable as the weather. Similarly if throwing away uneaten food enhances your frustration, why not limit the amount of time you spend preparing a meal for your picky eater. That way you are likely to feel less annoyed by your unappreciated efforts.

Keep unhealthy snacks in the home to a minimum. When a child eventually concedes to hunger, the only option available will be a snack with some nutritional value. Reduce temptation and encourage healthy eating in all areas of your children’s lives instead. Finding nutritious kids packed lunch ideas that are suitable for school meals and family days out will also help to establish this precedent.

This is a guest post brought to you to help bring a smile back to mealtimes (I have had many a difficult mealtime so am grateful for the tips myself!).

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