Why Force Feeding Your Kindergartner Is Not A Good Idea

We’ve all been there, tempted to feed our children based on how much we think they should eat. An experienced teacher, my mom had just one problem in common wherever she taught. Parents of kindergartners would send an adult-sized box of food and get upset when it wasn’t finished by lunch. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being very allowing of our children’s choices are guilty of forcing them to eat at times.

Force feeding can mean many things- prying open the kid’s mouth and shoving food down their throats is the absolute extreme but feeding them while they’re busy watching TV or blackmailing them with dessert if they finish everything on the plate are just as bad. Most of us force feed because we’re worried that our children may not get enough nutrition if they’re allowed to pick what they eat. This is a gross mistake, because children have the instinct of knowing what their body requires and manage to grow up just fine. A chubby child is not necessarily a healthy child and a lean child is not always tired.

Force feeding a child has many consequences on his/ her adult life. A child glued to the idiot box while eating might have a hard time practicing portion control as a grown up. In independent surveys, several adults have said that being force fed as kids has led to a very traumatic relationship with food after growing up.

How, then, does one solve this problem? Here are a few mom approved tips for getting your kid to enjoy eating.

don't force your child to eat- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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1. Let him/ her have as much as he wants of his favourite foods. This may seem like a terrible idea, but it works. Soon, the kid will grow tired of it and move on to something else. However, do keep a check if the kid is excessively having something unhealthy. Balance it with nutritious food items by making them look luscious enough for the child to immediately have it.

2. Make snack boxes attractive. There are loads of easy tips online to make food look good to a kid- from making shapes of his favourite animal to letting him indulge in the occasional cupcakes in his box. An attractive snack box is also a matter of great pride for children- they love to show off their food to their peers, and thereby eat more.

3. Make mealtimes an activity for the family. Make sure that the entire family sits down together for at least one meal. This teaches the kid that mealtimes are fun affairs, where everyone gets a chance to talk, have fun and share things about their day.

force feed kids is bad- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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4. Try and grab hold of books that talk about how a certain character became so much stronger after eating his veggies, or a story of what happened to the boy who only ate cookies. Stories influence children immensely.

5. Substitute the lesser favourites with more appealing alternatives. My daughter hates milk but loves fresh custard, so I make that and fill up the bowl with fresh fruit. Similarly, vegetables are a point of contention for most kids, but they’d be happy to eat muffins. Think of options like spinach muffins, avocado desserts and salsa dips. Replace chocolate tarts with fruit tarts. Sneaking around is good sometimes.

6. Make them believe that it was their idea to eat veggies. When the child comes home with a story of how a classmate didn’t turn up because he was sick, suggest to him that maybe he never ate his food properly. Make a big deal out of how weak you felt when you refused to eat your veggies as a child yourself. Hopefully, if your kid loves school, he’d not want to miss it by ‘falling ill’.

The road to healthy eating habits is never straight and easy, but with a little effort, it is a path worth taking. The next time you’re tempted to shove food into the kid’s tummy, let him be. He will surely come running back to you when he sees the family having fun eating!

Click here to learn how to help your child who is a picky eater. 

Learn to enhance your child’s iron intake by clicking here.

To understand how much calcium your child needs everyday, (when he or she hates milk) click here.

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