Food Battles

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Food Battles

Question: My little 3 year old is a really bad eater. We have tried many many many things to get him to try new foods but he pretty much lives off of crackers and popcorn. Dinner time is always a fight. We are so frustrated. He refuses to even try one little tiny bite.

Dear sweet Mama,

We hear your heart and your desire to be the mama who nourishes her children well. We have many thoughts regarding this type of situation. Right out of the gate, we would ask this question: ask yourself if this is the battle you wish to pick with this precious son. We can tell you from personal experience and from working with countless other families that it is a battle that is very difficult to win.

The next observation is this -- this little guy is 3 years old. At this age, kids are suppose to assert their independence. That is a healthy developmental step. Now, we also believe that we need to teach them and guide them in a direction that is helpful for their development, but if we expect this behavior at this age -- it is easier to accept.

Thirdly, if you were a client, we would walk through child development steps with you and help you assess if your children are where you want them to be developmentally. Perhaps there is something going on here that we cannot see on the surface with regard to his development

At this moment for this situation, this is what we would do if it were our child:

Prepare and present healthy food for your darlings. It is their ultimate choice whether they eat it or not. Really. However, you can create a situation that will help them to desire to eat the food you provide at meals by doing a few things:

1) communicate the "rules" of the house with a visual chart with pictures or stickers or some way to get the rules across. For example: "You can only have snacks or goodies when good food has been eaten." Do not create a battle, just be matter-of-fact. Pinterest has great ideas to get your juices flowing with regard to communicating with charts. The important thing is that you want it to be as simple and as positive as you can.

2) communicate auditorially with digital recordings all the wonderfulness of good food that mommy prepares. Make a recording for your child. Here are some components to the recording:

It is in the child’s perspective. So, it will be in first person.

It targets (in this situation) the struggle of your child with tasting new food

It gives the correct thinking and in some instances an action step they can take.

For daytime listening, we suggest the recording be no more than 3 to 5 minutes long. It can be played several times during the day but short three to five minute stints work better.

For nighttime listening (while they are asleep) you can make the recording as long as you like. The important thing is that the recording be positive and uplifting.

A simple example may be: suppose your child is afraid of monsters under the bed (our oldest thought there was a monster in her closet!) Part of the recording could go something like this:

“My bedroom is safe and cozy. I love to get in my bed and pull the covers up under my chin. I close my eyes and everything is peaceful. I am safe. I am calm and fall right to sleep.”

Our families have used this technique successfully to address even more complex issues. What you are doing is simply replacing the untruth and false information floating around in their heads with the truth. This is renewal of the mind.

c) communicate using Social Stories. If you google social stories, you can find lots of good information on how to use this tool. You can also check out:

I hope this is helpful. Remember that we love walking alongside parents in these perplexing days of raising children. If you would like to schedule a complimentary Get Acquainted Call to find out about our private coaching, just email us at We wish you the best with your precious children! Hugs.

Julie and Tom Meekins

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