By Sarah Hamaker
Q: My eight-year-old daughter is the world’s pickiest eater. For example, she refuses to eat any vegetables. If I put so much as a single pea on her plate, a screaming match results. Frankly, I’m tired of the constant battles at the dinner table.
A: Rest assured that you're not the only parent with a child who won’t eat this or who only want to eat that. I have a solution that will solve this problem eventually, but like with all changes, this could get worse before it gets better.
First, well before dinner time, inform your daughter that she will be eating exactly what everyone else is eating that evening, but only a single bite of each item. Once she has eaten everything on her plate, she may have seconds of anything that’s on the table.
Next, tell her that any faces, noises of disgust, words like yuck, etc., about the food will not be tolerated. Any utterance of that sort will result in immediate dismissal from the table and an immediate bedtime with no supper. Going one or two evening meals without supper will not hurt her at all.
Then, you let her know that if she refuses to eat that one bite of anything, she will be excused from the table when everyone is finished eating with no other food given until breakfast—which she will be served whatever bite or bites she did not eat the night before. Once her plate is clean, she can have a normal breakfast.
Deliver these instructions in a clear, confident tone and expect that she will test you immediately. Be prepared to send her to bed hungry. When she complains, just shrug your shoulders and point to the bites on her plate. Keep your calm and stick to the plan. She will come around and dinner time will once again be a pleasant occasion.
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Sarah Hamaker is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ through the Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coach Institute. She’s also a freelance writer and editor. Sarah lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.parentcoachnova.com and follow her on Twitter @novaparentcoach.