How To Disarm Even the Pickiest of Teen Eaters
We all hope and pray that picky eating is just a phase that our children will pass through on their way to greener pastures. There are indeed many cases where that is true and a picky eater wakes up one day with a love for all the wealth of food they had previously scorned. Unfortunately it is also true that some children sail right into adolescence fighting pitched battles over what they will and will not eat. This poses a unique difficulty for parents.
They feel a need to provide their child with healthy food options, but at the same time, they have no tricks left in their bag and feeding their child what he or she wants is so much easier than fighting all the time. If your family faces these types of mealtime difficulties, then it is time to sit down with your teen and talk.
You're Not Waving a White Flag - You're Changing the Conversation
Don't just surrender your position and allow your child to pursue an unhealthy diet. That won't do anyone any favors. At the same time, you cannot afford to make this discussion into a power struggle. Its possible to outlast an upset child, but a teen has a will and the energy to match your own. Furthermore, they are just discovering their independence. If you appear to be trying to stifle it, you'll lose.
Instead, you are going to have to meet your child half way and treat him or her like the rational adult that they are becoming. Begin by allowing your child to speak about the food issues. Really listen to what he or she is saying so that you can get down to the underlying issues that have caused this struggle. Once you have heard your child and let them know that, it will be time to express your problem.
Insist on Certain Concessions
Make sure that you insist on certain concessions even as you are preparing to negotiate. You are the parent and your concern for your child's health should trump frivolous grievances. Suggest that you will not force your child to eat food they find distasteful if they will commit to a balanced and nutritional diet made up of their favored foods. Also ask that the child continue to try new foods, suggest that they take at least one bite of everything served before they reject it.
These types of options allow you to serve both masters by addressing your teen's right to choose their food and still insisting on privileging their health. If your child is truly set against eating a balanced diet, consider suspending the conversation to take them to a doctor or nutritionist for help. If the two of you cannot communicate effectively about the issue, then consider asking a counselor for help navigating it. Do not engage in power games or attempt to lie about food to your teen as that will only erode the trust that you have worked to establish.
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