Talking about parenting: Dealing with the picky eater

Published 2:32 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By Chris Kovatch

As of late my middle child, Thayer, has become an increasingly picky eater.

This isn’t really a surprise as he is my child. I often tell people I have the palate of a five year old. My wife would wholeheartedly concur.

This change in Thayer makes me wonder how far I should push the issue.

We do our best to plan out dinners for the kids and most days we are successful.

However, there are those days where our schedule necessitates a trip through a drive through. I try to make those trips few and far between. We have definitely improved in this area with our move to Orangefield. Driving into ‘town’ is quite the deterrent.

Part of me wants to remain steadfast and hold strong to my decree that what is on your plate is your only dinner option.

My stance is equally determined by my desire for the kids to try new things and the fact that I went to the trouble of cooking the meal for them too. But how far do I push it? I know there are plenty of things that I don’t like to eat and I steer clear of them, but I do know that my food preferences have changed over the years. If I were to say to 20-year-old Chris that he would like asparagus, I could guarantee the response you would get would be laughter.

On the flip side, I am not a huge fan of sending a child to bed hungry. So what is the proper way to handle this situation? I am confident that if I were to solicit feedback there would be strong feelings on how to handle.

I have decided to take the best of both worlds.

When Thayer demands something else to eat or announces that he isn’t going to eat a certain part of his dinner, I quickly let him know that I won’t even consider the request until he tries what we are having for dinner. Eventually after much whining and complaining he normally gives in and tries the food. More often than not, he realizes his complaint was in error and he decides the dinner prepared is edible. Then all is right in the world.

Should he decide that he is still isn’t a fan of the food after trying it out, we will allow him to eat something else. However, his alternate dish is still selected by me. Most of the time it is either cereal or a sandwich that he is presented with.

I think this method of addressing the issue is really the best of both worlds. It is important to set the tone in regards to who makes the decisions, but it is equally important to allow for flexibility.

Most of the time in life we do have options, but how we reach the decision of what we choose is just as important as the decision itself. Teaching kids to assess situations and make decisions is an important lesson…even if it begins with dinner.