The Meal Time Power Struggle

The Meal Time Power Struggle

We have been witness to or maybe endured what I refer to as ‘Table Bullying’. When children are forced to finish their plate completely when they dislike the food. Threats are thrown around that if they don’t finish they will have to eat it for breakfast, be grounded, or that they cannot have dessert. I see and hear this at restaurants, friend’s houses, and even witnessed it as a young girl at my grand-parent’s house.

I am not here to tell you how to parent and if this is how your house runs maybe this blog will help you understand where your child is coming from and put you in their shoes.

Avoiding the meal-time power struggle with your children is important to the whole family.

Numerous studies show that children who are forced to eat foods they don't like, or try new foods they don't want to, they are less likely to eat these foods then children who are left to decide for themselves. Kids have different and emerging taste-buds. They are learning to develop a sense of who they are and what they like and dislike. I know that as adults we even have foods that we do not like.

As parents we are responsible for providing our children with healthy foods and appropriate portion sizes, but your child is then responsible for deciding how much and even whether they want to eat.

If your child does not like a certain food, keep offering the food to them, but never force them to eat it

Studies also show that it may take offering a child a certain food numerous times before they will even decide to try it. However, if you force your child to eat foods they don't like you will most likely turn them away from ever eating these foods again, make them dislike food, develop an unhealthy relationship with food, or have dinner-time anxiety. All these non-desired outcomes can cause havoc on the emotional well being of children.

Another method is Lead by example

Children are very "monkey see, monkey do" and like to model the behaviors of their parents. Keep offering your child foods they don't like, show them that you enjoy eating these foods, but then let your child decide for themselves whether they want to eat the food or not.

Nutrition is important for healthy child development. Encourage healthy eating by teaching your child or teen correct portion sizes, healthy snacks and the importance of the five food groups. Avoid giving your child food that is high in calories, saturated fats and added salt and sugar. Teaching your kids to have a good relationship with food is more important than forcing them to eat something they do not desire.

Involve your child in preparing healthy recipes for the whole family