Eat your food (nag) eat your food (nag) eat (sigh!)
Supporting slow eaters…..
You can not control you child’s eating, sleeping or pooping!
You can set useful guidelines, a good example, you can model and prompt, encourage and penalize but too many of any of this and they begin to hold the power.
Consider whether you have pushed a little too hard, and consciously or not, your child is pushing back or holding the line. Loosen up, be lighter. Trust that they will get past this stage and that your fixation will not help. Try not to get into food battles whereby every meal is a laborious processing of nagging and stalling….work with your child to find out what is the major issue – really listen and try to accommodate towards their concerns. If they don’t want to miss play ensure play is part of post-meal processes, if they don’t want to chew, make sure that there are enough items that don’t require chewing, if they don’t want to try new tastes, allow choice and incentivize food challenges….And if this does not work ….read on…..
Who seem to struggle to physically sit through a meal…..
Have a game of chase before sitting
Have wriggle breaks to get off the seat and jiggle
For every 10 mouthfuls allow a quick run around the table
Try sitting on a large ball so they have move movement underneath them
Allow some super stretching into the air, or even across the table with another person a couple of times in the meal (shoulder joints stretches create inner calming)
At a half way point in the meal stop for ‘row row row your boat’
Good attention to putting food into the mouth earns a run up and down stairs.
Who seem to struggle attentionally….
Have a car on a track in front of them and move the car as they move through their meal so they see the visual reaching the winning point (where there could be a treat for good timing and just a clap to finish the race slowly)
Tell made up stories as they eat, but be sure to pause when the child is not giving attention to chewing – they will chew again to hear the story
Consider liquidizing half the meal and asking them to drink half and eat half
Earn as you eat rewards whereby every 5 mouthfuls earn a bead and a certain number of beads equals a treat that day or cumulatively towards a bigger item.
Add some inconveniences when they are slow such as math or complaining or tickling…in a good natured way
Have a ‘beat the clock’ to do what you want to do – clearly showing that if the meal is eating in ‘x’ time you still have ‘y’ time for play, but if ‘x’ runs into ‘y’ then we lose the fun
Have a certain time for the meal – 15-20 minutes is enough, and beyond that start counting the minutes and deduct these from a favourite tasks such as ipad time (but only if you have tried other suggestions)
Who seem to struggle motivationally….
(with low interest in food)
Explain that if they eat they don’t need vitamins in tablet or liquids but if they don’t eat they must take them (again make sure they are taken before a preferred activity to encourage their compliance)
Divide the plate into three…..must eat, points for eating and don’t have to eat…this does create waste but is sometimes worth it as they feel good about a portion left, as though they are winning
Have some ‘stop for something nice’ between bites. Eg 8 bites of dinner and two bites of cookie, repeated…..
Get the child cooking and interested in what food is and how it helps us…there are great you-tube videos and so on
Find out what motivates them and add more of it if they eat and less of it if they don’t
Add time at the table if food is not consumed within a time period that is reasonable.
Try a little teasing…(puny arms, mr little, etc.)it worked in past generations!
Invite others over to eat together
If these things don’t help –
Most children in the western world will never starve… if they are massively under weight see a paediatrician for support but if they not try to understand that them more pressure you put on the more they will withhold !!