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Don’t Force Children to Eat!

July 9, 2015|Posted in: Happy, Healthy, Smart Kids!

IMG_7226.PNG As a childcare provider for nearly a quarter of a century I’ve seen many parents who believe it’s a good idea to force their children to eat when they don’t want to.  One little boy’s mom gave him a big cup of milk every morning and made him drink it.  He didn’t like milk at all and I know that for a fact because I cleaned it up more than once when, after forcing it down, he spewed it back up all over the carpet!  Another child who was just a year and a half old would cry if I simply put her in the high chair.
Forcing children to eat when they’re not hungry or forcing them to eat foods they don’t like can cause them to develop negative feelings toward food and eating.  They can develop poor eating habits that cause them to not get the proper nutrition they need.

I know most parents who force their children to eat are doing it because they think it’s good for them.  They want to make sure they get the proper nutrition to be strong and healthy.  Their body’s are small though and they don’t need the same amount of calories that adults do.  Your doctor can tell you how many calories your child needs and give you information about serving sizes.

If you provide your child with healthy choices they will usually eat what their bodies need.  It’s not a bad thing to require children to taste a new food, but if they don’t like it don’t force them to eat it.  If you provide several choices of healthy foods at each meal your child will be able to find something they like to eat without you having to make separate meals for each member of the family.  It’s also alright to withhold treats and sweets if your child hasn’t eaten any of the healthy, nutritious foods you offered them.  But remember to be reasonable in the amount you require them to eat (probably just a few bites) before allowing them to have a treat.

The purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies, but food should taste good to us and eating should be enjoyable.  Eat together as a family, allow children to make their own healthy choices, and have pleasant conversations.  Allow children to help prepare and choose the food you serve and don’t force them to eat foods they don’t like or to eat when they’re not hungry.  If you follow these guidelines your children will develop healthy eating habits while getting the nutrition they need to be strong and healthy!

 

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19 Comments

  1. Stephanie
    July 9, 2015

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    Great points! My husbands parents always made him make a “happy plate” and now that’s still ingrained in him and he’s 32. :-/

  2. Becki S
    July 9, 2015

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    This is a great reminder! I have nanny-ed far too many kiddos who’s parents have ridiculous amounts of food they want their kids to eat.

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      You’re right Becki, and their little bodies just don’t need that many calories!

  3. Bethany
    July 9, 2015

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    I love this article! No force feeding of icky food at this house! My mom always made us eat stuff we didn’t like, and if we didn’t finish it we had to sit at the table till we did.

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      Bethany, good for you! I’m sure your kids appreciate that!!

  4. Dayne
    July 9, 2015

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    I completely agree. My parents were kind of force feeders at times, and I still have problems eating certain foods because I HATED being made to eat it as a kid!

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      Perfect example of how being forced to eat can cause poor eating habits.

  5. Nina
    July 9, 2015

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    Great post! Finding the right balance between feeding my kids foods they like and healthy foods is tough, so any tips you have are always welcome 🙂

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      Nina, you’re so right! It is a balancing act. Kudos for your caring and responsible efforts!

  6. Jaime
    July 9, 2015

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    That’s such a hard thing to remember, especially with a toddler. =) There are times where she’ll just refuse to eat dinner and I know I get so frustrated. I’m understanding now that she’s a toddler and will eat what she wants, when she wants, haha. Thankfully she loves fruit, so she’ll eat tons of bananas and I’m working on hiding veggies in her food while also giving her straight up veggies to try.

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      Jaime, toddlers can be very picky eaters since their growth rate slows down from when they were infants. I always put the veggies on the kids plate even if they didn’t touch them. Being familiar with the food, they will be more likely to give it a chance at some point. Good luck with your daughter!

  7. Carlyn Bullock
    July 9, 2015

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    Hello Lori,

    I loved your post! I have bad memories of my parents forcing me to eat something I was disgusted by and even worse memories of them doing it to my little brother. Seeing it happen to someone else was even worse for me. Raising our boys, I made reasonable meals and gave them several healthy choices at the table so they could fill up on what they did like while passing on things they did not like at the moment. Happy to say I do not have picky eaters, I have adventurous eaters who also like to cook and create in the kitchen.

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      Carlyn, congratulations on your success with your boys! They’re lucky to have a mom like you!!

  8. Sonia
    July 9, 2015

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    I totally agree with you. Only thing is in practice it doesn’t always work out this way. My husband and I cook a balanced meal for our son. He wants something totally different. We don’t force him to eat but we all lknow he has to eat. Very frustrating and time consuming. But I’ll use some of your suggestions next time. Thx.

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      Sonia, some kids are definitely more of a challenge than others! Good luck with your son; I hope the suggestions help.

  9. Chelsea
    July 10, 2015

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    Completely agree with you. It’s about teaching good habits right from when they are young! I like that you said the purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies. Parents need to remember that..

    • LoriGraceH
      July 10, 2015

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      You’re right Chelsea, good habits need to start early!

  10. Taralyn
    July 10, 2015

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    I completely agree! I am the odd one out at family gatherings because I don’t force my kids to eat everything on their plates.

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