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When you do have to force children to eat

When you do have to force children to eat


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In many houses, mealtime with the children can turn into a war. This usually happens when your child's habitual behavior is to refuse when food is offered. In many cases, sitting at the table becomes a moment feared by both children and parents, who sense that they will not be able to have a quiet evening chatting about how the day has gone. But, Should we force children to eat?

The answer to this question is usually flatly negative, since we can make the child associate the act of eating with an unpleasant moment, with the negative connotations for their social relationships that this could entail. In addition, if we insist that the child finish everything that we have put on his plate, we may be forcing him to eat more than he really needs and also to do so without feeling like it. However, there are some exceptional situation in which we must force the child who does not want to eat.

Lack of appetite or denial of food can occur for various reasons that must be taken into account:

1. Because the child is going through some disease. When this ailment disappears, so does the loss of appetite and you feel more like eating.

2. Because he eats all kinds of things like candy, potatoes, chocolate, etc.

3. However, it can also be due to lack of appetite. In this case, the child has a weight below normal for his age and the case should be treated so that the little one can acquire adequate eating habits.

It will be in the latter case where yes we will 'force' the child to eat. We put quotation marks around the verb 'force' because we are not referring to this word taking into account its real meaning, but as a word that implies that the adults around the child must do everything in their power so that they acquire healthy eating habits.

I want to make it very clear the meaning I want to give to the word 'compel' so as not to create confusion in this article. To do this, first of all we look at the orthodox meaning of the word in question. For the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language, the word obligate is a verb that refers to:

- Make with authority, that a person does a certain thing, without leaving the possibility of choosing.

- Win the will of a person through gifts or favors.

This definition provides us with a type of tools that more than facilitate our work of help the child to acquire proper eating habits, It can complicate it and even have negative effects on the child. These tools are:

- The punishments
Many adults use phrases like: 'if you don't eat this, you will run out of dessert'. Using this type of punishment is a strategy that only leads to fights, has no positive effect and it can even lead to a rejection of food.

- The awards
They are a form of blackmail. Many parents regularly reward with a 'rich dessert' (sweets in general) if they eat everything on the plate. It is a mistake since the prizes must be something very punctual. If the child gets used Usually to always receive a reward you will never be aware that eating and doing it in a healthy way is for your own good.

In short, from the pedagogical point of view, food can never be used as a punishment or as a reward. Eating habits are part of the basic needs in the development of the child and must be left out of the negotiation or the consequences of their actions.

Therefore, we give another meaning to the word force.

We have already made clear our rejection of the orthodox sense of the word compel in the context of feeding children.

For me, the word 'force' when it comes to helping children learn eating habits must transmit other types of intrinsic tools that give us the ability to accompany the child in a beneficial way. These are some of them that we should pay more attention to.

1. Patience and serenity
You have to let the child himself eat only with his own fork and accompany, but without insisting, distracting, rewarding or punishing him to eat more. In the long run, the child will begin to eat the amounts he needs (for this, he must adapt the actual amounts he should eat) and thanks to the patience of adults he will notice the affection and not the rejection. In this way, your child's healthy relationship with food and the act of eating is promoted.

2. Set an example
The example of parents is the first step in helping children learn to eat well and have proper eating habits. Therefore, we must be aware that if we want our children to eat well, we must be the first to have appropriate habits that the child can fixate on.

3. Reinforce
When the child has eaten enough you can clap and congratulate. That is, reinforcement always before punishment. In this way, the little one will understand that he has done well.

4. Insist
Presenting the same type of food cooked in different ways is a way for you to try things you 'don't like' without having to force it. To do this, you can take a look at one of our many delicious recipes designed for children to eat everything in just the right amount.

5. Understand
Putting yourself in the place of children and seeing that if you yell at them and get angry because they don't eat is harmful.

You can read more articles similar to When you do have to force children to eat, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.


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