There is no child as hungry, as a child about to be put to bed. Am I right? PJ’s are on, teeth are brushed, and stories are read when your little one says, “Mama, I’m hungry!” You weren’t born yesterday so while you are aware that this request is mostly likely a stalling tactic, there is a little voice in your head whispering, “Well, that would make sense. They didn’t eat much dinner,” so to the kitchen you head for a bedtime snack, delaying bedtime and serving you one overtired kiddo. Child: 1, Parents: 0.
We are often asked how to put an end to this popular bedtime battle with confidence that a child, a picky eater, is not in fact hungry just before bed. For the answer, we turned to child behavior specialist, Kristal Miller. Below Kristal shares 10 tips to get picky eaters to not only eat, but to eat well. (That’s right, well! We’re talking veggies people!)
“Dinner time at my house is pretty boring. I’ll open the freezer for something that looks appetizing and pull it out to defrost. Add in a carb, some veggies or salad, and voila, dinner is ready! Meal times can be stressful, with constant interruptions about homework, neighborhood kids knocking on the door, text messages and emails from work, laundry flipping, doing dishes, and calls of “mom, she pulled my hair!” As a parent, you just need a solid 20 minutes without interruptions to make dinner. Is that too much to ask? Of course once dinner is just about made, requests to set the table are met by shouts from the basement of “the show’s almost done!”
Cue eye roll and sigh.
Does this sound familiar to you? I can hear you thinking “Kristal, my kid will just say ‘I don’t want that!’ and turn up their nose anyway.” Behind sleep problems, picky eating seems to be the most popular complaint among my clients, so you are in good company!
Guess what? There are three things you definitely can not force your child to do: eat, sleep, and use the potty. The situation is not hopeless, however. Here are 10 strategies to overcome the cycle of picky eating in your family, with no cajoling, threats, guilty feelings, or bribery.