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Get your child involved with others who need food.

How do I get my picky child to eat better? - Worried

Dear Worried,

Picky eaters are ungrateful, don't have enough need, and very little self-discipline. You as a mother have to start there. It is common for mothers to make excuses for their child and children often use food as a tool of power over their parents. Many mothers feel that they don't mind fixing different foods for their children if they will just eat. But they have just fallen prey to selfish, manipulative children. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad if they stayed children and you were their only relationship. But letting them get away with this tactic does not prepare them to be successful adults in a world of huge variety and where no-one really cares whether they eat or not. What if your child becomes a high-level employee of a big company and must do dinners with foreign CEO's in their country. How will his picky, ungrateful, self-focus effect his business success? Or what if God calls her to be a missionary to a foreign culture and the people offer her their best at a meal but she turns her picky, ungrateful, self-focused nose up and refuses what they offer? How will that effect their reception to a message about Jesus? You've got to think past now and farther into the future.

So how to get them to be grateful and others focused? First of all, they need to be hungry. Get them highly physically active where they burn calories and their natural hunger begins to kick in. Secondly, make a rule that one bite has to be eaten of all things in a meal. If it is refused it will be served for the next meal and the next with no snacks in between and only water to drink, no juice or pop. Don't worry about them starving they may be strong-willed especially if you've been caving to their will but they will eventually take the one bite. Be careful not to push the energy expenditure too much if they have skipped a couple of meals. Also, remember that small periods of fasting are actually healthy practice for detox of the body. Be sure they are well hydrated if they skip. The meal will be served for breakfast, lunch and supper until they take one small bite. Then they can have something they like.


You must explain to the child AHEAD of TIME that you realize you have not been doing the best to prepare them for success as an adult. So you are now going to help them learn a better way to be successful. Tell them you know they don't like some things but they will take a bite in a grateful attitude for the effort Mommy has put into making it for them. Explain to them that food taste is a learned habit like learning to read. You have to practice on some foods before you like them and that will increase your enjoyment of food. So this is why Mommy is making this new rule. Then you have to stick to your guns. One thing that will help is if you make something the next few meals that they really, really like and they can have all they want AFTER they take the one bite. If they are very stubborn and skip two meals give them a small portion of something you know they will eat but isn't especially a favorite. Don't let them fill completely up. Leave a little hunger to motivate them to take that bite then serve them the "one bite" meal the next meal. You have not allowed them to fast too long but the issue is still there and must be conquered.

You will agonize over this until your child obeys but stick with it. You are not harming them but enabling them to build maturity. Add to this the practice of thanking Jesus and Mommy for giving them food to grow and be healthy. Make this a family habit for each meal. Try volunteering with your child at a food bank so that they see people who have real need and are at least doing the action of giving to them. Now you are working on gratefulness as well as self-control. This also safeguards your child from depression in the years to come. There is a lot more involved than food preference in this issue.

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