One comment I get a lot is “now the others are getting picky too”.
Here’s what I tell those parents:
Your other child is watching the dinnertime hassle. They’re most likely seeing something that’s making them change their eating behaviour. Maybe your challenging eater gets to avoid those things the youngest isn’t sure about, their fear is rubbing off on the youngest as it’s such a big deal, maybe your challenging eater gets bribed to eat, gets a lot of attention for not eating (positive or negative, attention is attention to a child), gets a second chance at dinner – toast, fruit, nuggets, sandwich…
There are lots of easy ways to turn this around for the other child – and alongside ‘Little Bites’ step by step, easy to follow steps, they can also help motivate your challenging eater.
- Flip the attention. Give them heaps of genuine attention for eating with lighthearted reminders “You like this, you ate it at school/when we had… You said it was yummy!”
- Make it a bit competitive – I don’t mean food fights and a good way to get indigestion! I mean “who’s going to try *food you’re struggling with* first?” Whoever tries the most different foods over the day or week gets to choose movie night, or the activity, or the park to go to…
- Get them to help plan and prepare dinner once a week and give them a choice from a couple of options of things they’re starting to turn from (or give them free reign of the vegetable aisle!) Maybe they just need presented in a new way (shaped like a face, raw instead of cooked or sticks instead of slices).
- Have different themed nights every so often – milkshake Monday (veggie or fruit smoothies), rainbow nights, funny face Friday where they see who can make the most interesting picture or face with their food as they serve up (or you do it and they judge if they’re too young).