You've probably heard me talk about my choosy eater before. But even when we give her food that we know she likes, she won't always eat it and who pays later when she doesn't eat dinner? Me. Yeah, she's hungry and uncomfortable but I'm the one left feeling horrible that my daughter is hungry and that I need to tow the line because this is a habit of hers. Further, not only is she hungry but she won't fall asleep hungry so she's up crying way too late because I respected her decision not to eat. Again, who's paying? Me. Because all of us parents know what being up late means for the next day. And sometimes, even if she does fall asleep without food she'll be up in the middle of the night or super early the next morning to eat and a horrible cycle begins.
We've been strong, it just doesn't work with her. She never changes, even after a week of hard core towing the line about no food after dinner, she decides she's not going to eat and that's it. Everyone around her pays. So we have a little strategy to get her to eat her dinner. If your kid eats fine, I don't recommend starting this. But if you're at your whits end to get your kid to eat, maybe what works for us will work for you.
There are tons of great ideas out there for getting a strong willed and choosy little person to eat and it seems like we've tried them all. She doesn't care if the food is cute and fun, she'll play with it but not eat it. She doesn't care if she helps make it. She doesn't care if she gets dessert and she doesn't care about any other rewards - consistently. What she does love is attention and books so we use those to our advantage.
We came upon our "Power Up!" strategy out of desperation when our big girl was really sick last fall. We were desperate to get her to eat and drink so that she could get better. She loved to have books read to her so one day I stopped at the end of a page and said, "Power me up! I need power to turn the page." Lo and behold it worked (and still does). She ate.
We don't use this strategy every night because we want her to learn to eat because that's what people do, not to get a story read. But if we've all finished our dinner and her dinner plate is scarcely picked at, we will pull out a dinner story for her to power us through. As the parent, you get to pick what kind of power you need and how much power. For example, I need some cucumber power and I need the whole piece or I need a cheese power and it needs to be a gorilla bight (that's our lingo for a really big bite).
We've also adapted this to a social strategy that can be used during family dinner. She has to power up to tell mom or dad a secret and then she gets to choose whether we keep or share the secret. The big girl thinks this is awesome and the secrets typically involve things like, "I like your shirt." "I like your nose." No kidding. So mundane to us, but so special to her.
So you see, you can really adapt the idea to "Power Up!" to whatever it is that matters to your kiddo. Maybe everybody at dinner has to take a bite before they can talk or answer a family question if you've got someone who loves to talk. Or if you've got an artist, maybe they can use a crayon after each bight for a few seconds... I don't know. There are endless ideas and you know what drives your little ones so use it!
I hope that this idea is helpful for those of you at your whits end trying to help your kiddos choose to eat.
If you have your own strategy, game or idea that works for you and your family please share! I'd love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading.
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