Dealing with Meal Time Struggles

Lately, I've been asked a lot of questions on the #PositiveDiscipline approach to some challenges, sharing some tips when it comes to meal time struggles.


  • At least once a day, sit down as a family and eat a meal together. Do not eat in front of the television. Adults should sit down and eat with the kids—at a table.

  • Occasionally set the table with flowers, candles, or place mats, or eat in the dining room to create a special experience for the family.

  • If kids know it’s okay to choose what they will or won’t eat, they are less apt to complain.

  • Don’t try to force your child to eat anything.

  • Do not insist on children eating everything on their plates or tasting every food.

  • Don’t give your child a lot of undue attention if they refuse to eat something.

  • It is normal for young children to play with their food, spill their milk, and drop food on the floor. Behavior appropriate for their ages is not misbehavior.

  • Clean up spills, let kids finger-paint in their food, and let the dog eat what drops or put a plastic sheet under your young child. Teach your children to help you clean up the mess.

  • Let your kids serve themselves and do not discuss what they eat or don’t eat. Simply clear their plates at the end of the meal (fifteen to twenty minutes is plenty of time).

  • If kids complain about your cooking or the food, tell them it’s okay not to eat what they don’t like, but it hurts the chef when people complain. With a young child, when he says, “I don’t like this,” remove his plate and say, “Okay, you don’t have to eat it.” That usually ends the complaining very quickly.

  • Some families allow children to make themselves a sandwich if they don’t like the meal. This is better than cooking special dishes for each child.

  • If you think your children’s behavior has become too obnoxious, you might try deciding what YOU WILL DO instead of trying to control your children. Pick up your plate and go to another room to eat.

At the end of the day, we have to remember that if we want our kids to have healthy eating habits, we should be modelling it, not forcing it on them and doing the opposite. Hope this helps! Which ones have worked for you?😊

Love,

Mommy K

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