6 Simple Tips to Reduce Mealtime Tantrums

Published by Claudia Coombes on

Are you sick of the constant dinner time tantrums? Your child won’t eat the delicious meals you slave over?

We hear you! At The Nutrition Specialists we believe that meal times should be an enjoyable occasion for everyone and we’re here to help make that happen.

The great news is that it’s not your fault! We see many parents who are distressed about whether they are causing or exacerbating their child’s feeding challenges. Be reminded that picky eating is a part of your child’s development and some kids are just more sensitive than others!

The not so good news is that it won’t be fixed overnight, but we want to assure you that your hard work now will be worth it in the long run! Here are 6 very simple tips to start managing the mealtime stress and begin enjoying family dinner time again!

  1. You choose the food; they choose to eat!

You are the boss! You make the meal choices. You can provide them with options but if you continue to let them choose the menu, this will limit their exposure and prevent new learning experiences. We also know that they are super clever and if they know they won’t be challenged they’ll choose the easy road.

Keep in mind to always be fair in your meal choices; always provide at least one preferred food in the meal that you know your child will eat and give lots of verbal praise when they choose the newer option.

2. Stop The Nagging.

I’m not sure about you, but if someone keeps nagging me to do something that I don’t want to do, the chances of me doing it are slim to none. We know that the more a child is pressured to eat a new food, the less likely they are going to eat it.

I challenge you to stop the nagging, let your child make the decisions about how much and what they will eat and see what happens… I suspect you’ll be amazed!

3. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure!

Did you get the point? Exposure is everything when it comes to increasing your child’s food variety. Exposure can be anything from seeing, smelling, licking or chewing a new food.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before it can take up to 10 times for a child to accept a food, and then another 10 to like it; so, think about that before giving up!

Our favourite stress-free way to increase exposure is through family meals. Serve up meals at the table and get your picky eater to serve up your plate! They are more inclined to want to put it on your plate than their own and this creates more positive exposure opportunities.

4. Be a fun Role Model

Think about your favourite role models and teachers, what was it that you liked about the way they assisted your learning? I doubt they forced you into doing things you didn’t want to do.

One of the best ways to increase your child’s exposure to new foods is for them to see you eating and ENJOYING different foods. Kids learn from watching and imitating others and this creates a relaxed environment where the child gains more exposure with no pressure to eat.  

5. Language. 

Language is key, I can’t say this enough. Only talk about the positive things rather than focussing on what you think they aren’t doing right. Use language that helps increase their confidence, too … here are a few examples you can try today:

Instead of saying this..Try saying this…
What do you want for afternoon tea?Would you like this or this?
You can’t have dessert until you finish your broccoli.If you’ve finished, you can put your plate in the dishwasher.
I don’t think he’ll like that.I think you will like this sweet potato, it’s the same colour as carrot, you really like carrot!
Why can’t you just finish your food?Well done on trying this yummy food! I’m so proud of you.

6. Work with a specialist Dietitian.

There is so much information available today that it can all become too overwhelming. Rather than stressing about what to do, our dietitian Claudia is a Fussy Eating expert and she can help you beat the tantrums and make family mealtimes fun again. 

Stay tuned for some fun family meal recipes.


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