When you have a picky eater, you may dread the holiday dinners with the whole extended family. It’s not the picky eating that really bothers you (since you’re used to it already and deal with it on a daily basis), but the comments from the family.
However, I’ve been through this and I promise you it will be okay. Here are some strategies that may make things a little easier.
1. Say something before the dinner to the family
I say this before every holiday meal. I tell my father, who does make comments when my child won’t eat his dinner, that “S” might not eat anything and to leave him alone. Now, this used to be about my oldest child, “B”. He was the picky eater and now it’s the littlest one who probably won’t eat that much. However, comments are still not welcome and will only make tension rise. My kid knows he’s not eating and the more you tell him to eat, the more he’ll ignore his food.
2. Make a plan.
This is harder with “S” because of his speech delay and emotional age (he acts more like a young 3 than a 4 year old). But when “B” was that age, we would make an agreement that he would eat the soup, bread, and some protein. And yes, we told him that chopped liver was peanut butter.. and he ate it. With “S”, it’s harder. I will offer soup, bread, protein, and veggies, but I don’t know exactly what he’ll eat.
3. Realize that I can’t force my picky eater to eat.
Unlike his big brother (now 9), “S”, who just turned 4, is actually pretty stocky. I don’t worry about his weight. His big brother was always underweight so I felt he couldn’t miss a meal. I have to relax and realize that if “S” gets hungry, I can easily fix him a plate. Or he may just eat more when he gets up the next day. Missing one meal won’t hurt him.
4. Enjoy ourselves!
The best thing we can do is to enjoy our dinner. “S” will see all of us eating and hopefully the peer pressure will keep him at the table or encourage him to eat.
5. Bribe if you need to
Parents have been promising desert to picky eaters for eons. But if that will work to get your picky eaters to eat– do it.