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Food Discipline In Children

5 min read

Toddler does not want to eat
Be it your 2 year old toddler or your 12 year old school-going kid, food is the topic which is of continuous concern. Up till 6 months it is easier for you as well as your kid, but after that period when you introduce solids to your kid, all hell seems to break loose and problems happen. Babies are introduced to new tastes and while they like some, they vehemently reject the others. Some babies adjust to the new tastes, but in some babies this problem carries forward even as they grow up.
The fuss over food becomes so much that it almost becomes a challenge for you to feed them healthy and the right kind of food. Here are a few tips of how to bring in food discipline in kids.

  • Food Discipline in Toddlers
  • Food Discipline in School Going Kids

Food Discipline in Toddlers

Most child behavior issues are centered around food and eating. It is the prime responsibility of all parents to provide their children with wholesome, healthy food that nurtures and nourishes their bodies. But it is easier said than done. Toddlers have a great task – they test limits. Toddlers repeat annoying behavior as if testing if your reaction will be the same every time, or you will deviate. Let us take you through tried and tested strategies that work best with toddlers when it comes to food discipline:

  1. High Chair and Table: It is important that you feed them on their high table and chair. With this they will not only learn to use a table and chair while eating but will also sense a strictness from your side that food must be eaten only at table and that you are not willing to run about in the whole house to feed them. This will ensure that they do not end up eating on the couch as they grow up
  2. Be Firm: Your toddler will probably oppose it in the beginning and throw hands but be firm. Being firm where you need to be instils discipline. Though you may deviate once in a while, make sure this does not become a habit
  3. Make a meal routine and follow it: Don’t keep offering food to your kid every now and then. Eating anytime and every time is not healthy for anyone, let alone kids. Plan it at proper intervals so that they are not hungry otherwise
  4. Green Vegetables: Did you like those green vegetables while you were a kid? No right? So, neither does your kid. So, the best way is to blend in their food. Also, toddlers do not have the sense to judge how a particular dish is supposed to taste so quit trying to make it appeal 100% to their taste buds and try to add as much nutrition in their food as possible
  5. Avoid wasting food: Inculcate the quality of not wasting food. Honestly, this is a very important trait that everyone must have, and yet is not common. We cannot afford to waste food, do make it understood to your child. The earlier, the better
  6. Mealtime hassles: Unless you want a child who gets up and going in between having meals, it is best to sit straight and wait at the table till you finish your food. This way the child will get an idea that ‘no body moves till dinner is over’
  7. Wrap up warning: When your toddler throws food around, wrap up the meal and tell him that he doesn’t look hungry. Do not feed him until the next mealtime. Lesson learnt!
  8. Do not force feed: Respect your child’s desire not to eat when he does not want to. Force feeding does not really go a long way. Read more on force feeding a child here

Kid refuses to eat

Food Discipline in School Going Kids

Dealing with school going kids can be even trickier. After all, they now know all sort of things and have opinions on everything. The television and print media is bombarded with unhealthy foods endorsed by muscular and lean looking models. Then there is the temptation to grab all the freebies that come with so many foods. Some kids may be bitten by the ‘healthy eating’ bug at a young age and they may resist food groups as such. Food probably does not score very high on the list, and if it is healthy, served without the TV, it just does not pass down!

  1. Be a role model: From the very beginning make sure you eat healthy stuff in front of your kids. Kids imbibe good habits. So, if they will see you eating healthy food then they too will. Remember, children follow examples, not words
  2. Shop grocery shopping together: Going for grocery shopping? Take your kids along. The way it is important for them to eat healthy food it is equally important for them to understand which of them are healthy. Your school going kids are inquisitive, let them explore at the grocery store and answer their questions. This awareness will lead to self-choice
  3. Balance the food intake: Teach them how to balance their food intake. For example, if they have one doughnut today they should have a bowl of green vegetable at meal
  4. Make the mealtimes fun: Pun in some fun elements during mealtimes by allowing them to set the table for dinner, serve food to other family members and so on
  5. Don’t entertain short-orders: If they demand a particular dish, say that you will make it for them the next day but today they will have to eat whatever is cooked
  6. Food is not a bribe: Never use food for bribes, punishments or rewards. Treating them with a box of candies if they have cleaned up the room is not a good idea at all
  7. Involve your kids in the kitchen: Kids have a thing for cooking and you know it or not, helping you in kitchen makes them proud. In kitchen they will learn a lot about vegetables, spices etc. which will develop their interest in food
  8. Keep away the disturbance: When you sit down to eat, stay away from tabs, television and newspaper. Tell your children to relish the food and focus on their bodies, rather then munching in with eyes glued onto the idiot box
  9. Offer small portions: Your child may not be as hungry as you’d like or want him to be. Do not kill the appetite by putting huge portions on the plate
  10. Stress on breakfast: Make sure your kid has a hefty breakfast and also let him know the importance of a good breakfast

Girl refusing food
The best thing about kids is, if you explain to them the things you are doing with logic, they will definitely understand and go along with you. At the same time it is important that you don’t push them too hard. A survey says that it takes about 7-10 attempts for a kid to eat an item he does not like much but eventually he will definitely give it a try. So, be patient. Who said parenting is a cake-walk?

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