Help, my child is a picky eater!
How can I encourage my child to be more adventurous and try different foods? Why does my child eat at preschool and not at home?
“Picky” eating is actually part of normal development, and most of us will have something we don’t like to eat. In our experience, the language we use, and the attitude we take towards food refusal are really important. Instead of calling attention to the picky eating, make meals an enjoyable experience. At preschool, mealtime is a wonderful social experience for the children. We involve the children in the routine, and we steer conversations towards what goes into their meals and how the various foods are good for them.
We encourage, but not dwell. Instead of insisting for individual children to finish their food, we encourage them to decide how much they want to eat by saying things like “Let’s make sure you have enough in your tummies, because the next meal won’t be until tea time!” You can also try to get your child excited about trying something new by saying “This is really good, it tastes a lot like (insert another food item) that you really like.”
Be a role-model. Children watch what grown-ups eat, and if you visibly enjoy it, he might be more likely to try
Involve your child in the process. This could mean shopping for food ingredients together, or even setting the dinner table.
Or even let your child be involved in the cooking process. This is a great way to encourage children to try different foods.
Sometimes (just sometimes!) you might want to allow him to make a (controlled) choice, ie. choosing one out of two possible foods. Children like making choices for themselves so this could be one way to make them try a particular food or dish.
At Shaws Preschool, we adopt the project approach, and one benefit (out of many) we have seen is how our children develop a love for fruits and vegetables after going through 10 weeks learning about them and growing them in our garden, like carrots, for example.
These are a few of the things we do at preschool to encourage our children to eat. Of course, by the time it is lunch time, after a day of “child’s work” and play, the children are ready for a good meal!
Liane Shaw, Director of Play
I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am – Dr Seuss