If you are a parent or guardian of a young child, you probably know what a challenge meal time can be. If it isn’t about not eating something, it’s probably about eating something specific. Typically, caregivers want what’s best for the child, but kids have a mind of their own. Staff at day care centers in Gaithersburg MD know that challenge well, and they use innovative ways to make picky eaters love what they eat!
The Challenge at Hand
As a parent of a young child, getting her/him to come to the meal table (or other family eating place) is the first of several hurdles. Between play distractions, TV watching, mood swings, tantrums, and other disruptions, many parents find that, convincing their child that it’s time to eat, is a huge undertaking.
That’s with just one child, and perhaps a sibling or three. Imagine how staff at day care in Gaithersburg manage a room-full of toddlers and fussy eaters!
But, getting children to agree to eat is just half the battle. Parents of picky eaters must also deal with a slew of other challenges, including a litany of excuses, such as:
– “Can I play for one more hour before supper…please?”
– “I’m not hungry yet!”
– “I don’t like broccoli!”
– “Why can’t I have what you are having?”
– “This is too much…can I just have half?”
– “Can we have ice cream instead?”
At times like these, it’s hard for parents and care givers to immediately switch into stern mode, admonish the child, and call time-out. Staff, experienced in child care in Gaithersburg MD, will tell you that there is a time to be firm…but they’ll also tell you that there are better strategies to deal with picky eaters than just losing one’s patience.
Winning Them Over
Distracted children, or kids who are stressed-out – for any reason – will not be open to being “forced” to eat. But here are some ways that day care staff use to combat picky eating:
– Make mealtime fun: Entice your child to the meal table by encouraging them to bring a favorite toy to join the meal – so long as they eat whatever you’ve served
– Cede control to the child: Half the resistance is because kids feel they have no control over meals. So, let them have some control over what they’ll eat – as long as there is a choice of healthy foods and snacks. Letting them choose gives them that sense of control
– Respect the child’s choices: If your child refuses to eat peas, why not switch to some other greens. Let them know that the choice is between likes – green for green, and not one between peas or nothing else
– Give them responsibility: Encourage your child to help with meal preparation. It’s less likely they’ll refuse to eat something they took part in preparing
Staff and administrators of day care in Gaithersburg MD know the importance of scheduling snacks well before, or after, meal time. Serving kids snacks, however healthy your snacking choices might be, immediately before meals, can lead to the “I’m not hungry!” defense. And, if you really want your child to embrace mealtime, regardless of what you’ve served, plan a set of physical activities prior to serving a meal. It’s guaranteed to stroke the appetites of even the pickiest eater!