I often hear complaints from parents of preschool children (2-5 years old) that their children do not eat anything or that they are picky about what they eat. When I was a kid, I wasn’t very hungry either. My family used to try to make me eat something by tricking them with games and making me drink appetizing syrups.
Culturally, we are a society that likes to eat and be fed, if a guest comes, we will reveal whatever is in the house, we do not send it away without eating and drinking. Naturally, we want to feed our children to the fullest, maybe their stomach is full, but we can’t get enough of what we feed them. Yes, sometimes they eat really little or are picky eaters. So why? First of all, we should know: Children’s appetites can change constantly depending on their growth and mobility, and they already have a small stomach. They are very busy exploring the outside world, so they have limited time and attention to food. Especially at the age of 2-3, children are very willing to push the boundaries and show their independence.
What should we avoid while we are gnawing at ourselves with the worry that they are starving?
From trying to force-feed
From trying to intimidate with threats (who of us hasn’t heard the words “Look, if you don’t eat, you’ll cry behind your back”?),
From projecting our concerns about this issue to the child (sometimes, when children realize how important these issues are to their parents, they may see this as leverage they can use to achieve their wishes).
What can we do?
Above all we can be patient with their objections,
We can give the child the opportunity to get hungry,
We can remember that a balanced diet is important for healthy development, not overeating.
We can limit the consumption of junk food,
We can include them in environments where they can eat with their peers.
If the child is generally healthy and has enough energy to play, learn and explore, they are probably eating enough. However, if you’re really worried about your child’s growth or overall nutrition, if he/she eats very little, is very picky about what he eats, constantly refuses to eat, you can consult a specialist.