How I Dealt With Picky Eaters



What if my child doesn’t want to eat or is picky about what they will eat?

In our home, having so many children, forced me to come up with a plan for picky eaters.  There is no way I could cater to their many likes or dislikes. I had my children take small amounts of food they said they had never tried before. They had to try it at least once.

I should say, however, that if my kids disliked a food with a strong, distinct flavor I did not make them eat it. Some of those things that I didn’t force kids to eat were: mustard, turnips, liver, sauerkraut, etc. You get the picture. I personally cannot stomach mustard and do not eat it. If your child has a long list, you could maybe let them choose their 5 most disliked foods and beyond that, they would have to have a least a little bit.

If my main course was one of those things my child disliked strongly, then I gave them an alternative. They could choose to just eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of our main course. Now, I can see where this option could be overused, where a child would only want peanut butter and jelly, but in our home it was understood that it wasn’t an everyday occurrence. I remember being forced to eat liver once a week. It was dry (and cold) by the time I ate it and made me gag. I do not eat liver to this day. I would gladly have chosen peanut butter and jelly on liver nights.

What if my child doesn’t clear their plate?

I determined early on that I didn’t have time to waste on trying to get my kids to finish every crumb on their plates. I encouraged my kids to start out with smaller portions and take seconds if they were still hungry. If someone didn’t clear their plate or only ate a tiny amount, I would take their plate, cover it and place it in the refrigerator. If they got hungry before the next scheduled meal, I would get their plate out and that would be their “snack”. If others had cleared their plates, they would get a different snack. If the child who hadn’t eaten well at mealtime did finish their plate, then they could choose a snack as well, but not until they had finished what was on their plate. It was kind of a simple system. No forcing my child to eat. No crying, distraught kids at the table. Life raising 14 kids wasn’t always simple, but whenever I could put a policy in place to help simplify, that is what I chose to do. The starving kids in India thing never worked on me anyway as a child. I was perfectly willing to have my food sent to them!

(For lots of ideas of simple recipes for suppers, see Homemade with Love. I’ve recorded many of our family’s favorites in that.)

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About Marilyn

Marilyn is wife to Rick, Mom to 14 children, Nana to 22 grandchildren (and counting!) and homeschooler for 37 years. She and her husband own Character Concepts which they started for the purpose of helping others raise children with a strong, godly character and Biblical worldview.They have developed character curriculum from preschool through high school, based on what they found worked when teaching their own 14 children over the years. Her passion is to help young moms raise kids of character and enjoy the journey!

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