Thanksgiving: Strategies to Reduce Stress with Picky Eaters
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, do not let having a picky eater impact your time spent with family and friends. ABC Therapy would like to offer you these helpful feeding strategies to help reduce the stress during your Thanksgiving meals.
- Positioning– Children perform best when their feet are flat on a sturdy surface, eating surface is at waist level, and they’re able to reach all things in front of them.
- Variety– Offer an assortment of foods, both preferred and non-preferred options, but do not force your child to finish full amounts if they are unable.
- Volume- Offer small amounts of each food option so the child does not feel overwhelmed with the quantity on their plate. Children are more likely to try one bite of a new food than a whole helping.
- Choices- Offer numerous choices based on foods provided i.e “Would you prefer the corn or carrots on your plate?”
- Separate and Make it fun– Bring supplies like divided plates, a cupcake baking sheet, fun utensils, or different utensils for each food to help separate food item options.
- Messy Play– If your child is not willing to eat the foods, encourage describing the foods (color, texture, taste, etc.) and allow messy play so they can explore and interact with the options on their own terms. An example of messy play could be utilizing various cookie cutters to make playful shapes.
- Model– Demonstrate to your child what your expectations are with each food and how they should interact with it.
- Provide Praise but not Reward– Children feel accomplished when given praise like “I like how you took a bite out of ___”, “I see that you are trying hard to try ___”, “Good job touching ___”. However, providing a treat after eating a non-preferred food is not the best option for supporting carry over and independence in the skill.
- “All Done” bowl – Provide a safe place for the child to eliminate the foods from plate when they are finished to reduce overall anxiety.
- Back-up Plan– Pack the child’s favorite foods in the case they are unwilling or unable to tolerate the foods provided.
Hopefully these food-related strategies will help reduce stress for the whole family during the holiday season! Enjoy time with your family and don’t let picky eating impact the quality of time with loved ones. For more information pertaining to picky eating or other therapy-related resources, please visit https://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com/.