It’s not your job to get your child to eat

Boy falling asleep and landing face in foodNinety per cent of us do it. We try to get our child to eat.

Cajoling (“just two more bites”), bribing with dessert, rewarding with screen time, threats of no screen time, creating shapes with food, ‘aeroplane’ spoons, making favourite meals, chasing your child with forkfuls of food.

And now your kids will eat everything? Unlikely.

Pressure to eat, whether it’s in the form of threats or rewards, has been shown not only to make little difference to children’s eating habits, but can actually backfire.

Pressuring to eat can lead a child to feel full too early, increase their resistance to food, and experience poor weight gain.

You can make mealtimes easier with just six words: “You don’t have to eat it”.

As a parent, your job is to select the food that goes on the table, ensuring a variety of foods over the day and week, and to structure meals and snack times. That’s it.

It’s your child’s job to decide whether and how much to eat.

Now this is confronting and challenging to many of us. But in the long term, it works.

Read more about the Division of Responsibility in feeding here: Ellyn Satter