In Heather Forbes’ latest newsletter, she answers a reader’s question about a child’s refusal to eat dinner. Here’s the question:
“My four-year-old sits down to dinner and says, ‘I don’t like that.’ He either won’t eat at all or won’t eat his vegetables. He then gets annoyed, trying to leave the table, whining and refusing to eat. This happens five out of seven nights. How do I respond without consequences?”
We’ve certainly had our share of meal/food related issues, so I paid close attention to Heather’s response. Here’s the part that resonated the most with me:
“Create new experiences around food for you and your child (and your entire family). Have your child sit in your lap to eat. Feed him as you would feed a young toddler. Emotionally your child is probably much younger than four years old. Expecting him to be able to sit down at the table during mealtime is probably well beyond his developmental capabilities … We also need to recognize that we shouldn’t eat when we are stressed anyway. Our bodies can’t digest the food properly and it can become toxic in our bodies. More importantly, forcing children to eat during this time or giving consequences around food only creates negative food related issues as adults. The refusal to eat vegetables has a direct link to being stressed out. As a human species, we gravitate towards sweets, salts, and fats when we are stressed.”
This advice made a lot of sense for our family. The kids’ food issues have certainly improved as they’ve become more secure and regulated. What works for your family at dinner time?
For more information, check out the Beyond Consequences Institute.