It's such a common complaint I always hear: "No matter what I do my child won't eat any vegetables at dinner". "My child won't eat anything but chicken nuggets"!
Here are some "rules" to go by:
1. You are not the short order cook of the house. You make one healthy meal and offer it to everyone. What if it's a new food or an ethnic food that your child is skeptical of? Put something else on the table they are familiar with and already like, like a whole grain bread, veggies or fruit you know they like. Continue to serve other regular things, like milk or water with the meal.
2. Do not say "You can't have your dessert unless you eat all your broccoli (vegetables)". Why? You have now indicated to your child that the vegetable is not as good as the reward, dessert. If you tend to offer dessert, offer it no matter what was eaten. Some even suggest that you serve it with the meal, if at all. Another idea- make desserts healthy- unsweetened applesauce, fruit, 100% fruit juice popsicles. Save the ice cream treats and/or cookies for the weekend.
3. Do not join or have a Clean Plate Club! Children naturally are equipped to stop when they are full (something many of us need to work on). Why ruin this natural instinct? Children will finish when they are done.
4. Encourage enjoyment of all foods! Offer meals family style- give them a spoon to serve themselves. If they take it themselves it puts them in control of their eating. Watch your comments! Just offer!!!
Hopefully these tips will help lead to a more pleasant mealtime. Isn't that what it is supposed to be- a pleasant time to sit together, eat and talk about everyone's day?