Video Update: Parenting Strategies for Picky Eaters

By: Jodi Baker Email
By: Jodi Baker Email

What parent hasn’t worked hard, preparing a meal for the family, only to have a child complain or flat out refuse to eat it? An Omaha pediatrician gives some strategies to turn the table on picky eaters.

Dr. Laura Jana literally wrote the best-selling book on preventing, “Food Fights.” She also owns Primrose School of Legacy at 174th and Wright Streets, and she’s a mother of three.

"Kids are born with certain likes and dislikes - sugar, being a preference for almost everybody. We're born with that,” she said. “But parents can do a lot to shape kids' attitudes towards food."

  • <"Make fun of food," she says. “Pick out new colors, pick out new foods - go google a recipe for something you might never eaten before and make it fun for kids and yourself." It can take 10 to 15 tastes of a food, before a child decides they like it.

  • <“Try, try, try, try and try again,” she said. Too often, Dr. Jana says, parents become short order cooks, only making what children are sure to eat. "That's why I'm a big fan of something called the, ‘No thank you bite;” she said.

    It employs a bit of reverse psychology where children get some choice in their meal, rather than being forced to eat something. “If they don't want it, they could ask you, ‘Could I please have a no thank you bite?’ They taste it. You've accomplished your goal and they get to have some control. But they taste new foods."

  • Peer pressure can also come into play with meals. Children at Primrose eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. The parent of one toddler there, Joe Rosso says, “When he's around other kids his age, he'll eat almost everything that's on his plate because he sees everyone else doing it."

    But at home, Rosso says, “He looks at the food, takes a bite of it, spits it out and wants to get up and walk around."

  • "You have complete control at home of what they eat. If you don't want your child begging for cookies at home … don't stock the pantries with the cookies."

  • The guidelines, she says, are important. But just as important is keeping perspective - not enforcing rules too strictly. “You also want to have the fun family meals."

    A positive attitude about good food makes all the difference, now and in the years to come. For more information on Dr. Jana and her books, visit the link below.

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