Feeding struggles are common, making dinnertime full of stress, fights and tears. It is understandable that you are concerned if your kid refuses to eat multiple meals in a row, or never wants to try a new food.
So you enforce a “3 bite rule,” don’t offer dessert if dinner wasn’t consumed, and bring out said refused dinner for bedtime snack. Or try sneaking vegetables into your child's food.
And not only does your child now seem to be eating less than ever, but there are tears. Fights. Tantrums…. on the part of both the parent and the child.
And then you read that rules such as these can negatively affect your child’s eating practices for life! Possibly leading to not only an even pickier eater, but an unhealthy relationship with food and the potential for disordered eating or weight issues as an adult.
So you stopped the struggle and fights. Maybe you decided to go to the other end of the spectrum: you prepare one of the 3 items you know your child will eat for dinner every single night. And if they want a snack, they can have it whenever.
Now that your child has pick of what they eat, they seem to be eating more…. but they certainly are not branching out to try new foods. And you're exhausted from being a short-order cook!
So what’s the ‘middle ground’ that actually works?
Social worker and registered dietitian Ellyn Satter created the Division of Responsibility. It’s an excellent model for creating boundaries for feeding, while trusting that your child knows his appetite best and letting him choose how much to eat.
If you are able to follow this concept not only will you be less likely to have a picky eater, but also you are raising a child who has a healthy relationship with food.
Here’s how it works:
When the child eats, where they eat and what they are offered to eat.
How much and if they eat!
Want to see how this worked for Sarah and her son? Read her story here.