Eating habits in children

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One of the issues that mothers complain about the most about their children and are desperate to find a solution is that they cannot regulate their children’s eating habits. At mealtime, when the child does not eat, the mother’s anxiety level inevitably increases. This situation causes confrontation, a rise in the tone of voice and conflict between mother and child. When the meal time is over, because the child leaves the table without eating, the mother’s mind remains on her child, and when a certain time passes, the child’s favorite or desired foods are offered to the child by the mother with the thought of “oh my child is hungry”. Thus, this food crisis is experienced as a vicious circle every day, but no changes are made in behavior in order to find a solution. If we want to develop the habit of eating in a child, we need to pay attention to certain points.

The main issues to be considered while giving the child the habit of eating:

1-The child should be allowed to eat alone. A child who begins to eat his own food means that he has begun to manage himself. One of the conditions of autonomy (independence) is to start eating food by itself, which is one of the basic habits. In this regard, mothers should give up their perfectionist attitude and create the necessary environment regarding the contamination of the environment or the new clothes for the child.

2-There should be regular meal times at home and all family members should take care to be at the dinner table at the same time.

3- While eating, family members should not include factors that sabotage the meal, such as watching television or dealing with smart phones.

4-Before the meal, the child should be prepared for the meal. For example, while watching his favorite cartoon, when the television is turned off in the middle of the movie and “it’s time to eat” is said, the child will resist eating because he is not psychologically ready. Instead, you can wait for the cartoon to end, then go to the sink and wash your hands and go to the dinner table.

5- Since the mother knows the food that her child likes and what she likes, she should be careful to include the foods she likes at every meal.

6-During the meal, instead of filling the child’s plate, the food should be placed little by little. Some mothers point to the plate in front of their child with their finger and say, “There is no getting up from the table before that plate is finished!” or “forget the TV if you don’t finish your meal!” They may use threatening expressions such as such, but they do not know that these expressions do not have any benefit in acquiring the child’s eating habits.

7-The mother should not focus on what her child eats and does not eat, and should not be confronted when the child does not want to eat. In such cases, it would be a better behavior to ignore and not show interest.

8-The presentation of the food is also very important while making the child acquire the habit of eating. Plates or glasses with a favorite cartoon character, colored forks and straws can be used. Some dishes can even be served on plates in different shapes with different molds.

9-One of the most important points while giving the child the habit of eating; When the child does not want to eat or eats less, it should not be stubborn, and the child should not be given food between meals. Foods to be served between meals with the thought of “my child will go hungry” will open the door for the child to use his eating behavior as a weapon; Parents should be careful not to act emotionally in this regard.

10-By the parent when the child does not want to eat; The child should be told clearly that he will not eat until the next meal, by saying, “Well, apparently you do not want to eat because your stomach is full”. Parents should apply this rule first.

11-Cartoons can be watched to make the child love different foods. Encouraging storybooks about eating habits can be read.

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