You’ve worked hard to prepare an appetizing meal for your family and it’s sitting on the table. The other family members are eating, but there sits your 7 year old idly staring at his food on his plate and making absolutely no attempt to eat it. After he takes a couple of forkfuls, he asks if he can leave the table. He says, “I’m not hungry.” You urge him to eat more and he refuses. You allow him to leave the table.

“Why doesn’t he eat his dinner?” you ask yourself. “How is he going to learn good eating habits if I let him walk out on his meals? How will he stay healthy, with eating so little?” There really seems no easy answer to this puzzle.

You’ve probably tried the usual methods you’ve read about for getting a child interested in his meals – putting smaller portions on his plate, letting him help himself, not paying attention or commenting on his eating, and limiting his eating between meals. Frequently doing this is not enough.

Here are several reasons why:

Just as your child is an individual in all respects, so is his appetite uniquely his own. It will vary from time to time.
Over a period of time, if you place a variety of natural foods in front of a healthy child – he will eventually select himself a balanced diet in the amount that he needs.
Mealtime is a special time for most families. When your family sits down to dinner, your child not only learns about food preferences, but he also absorbs other attitudes and feelings from his parents and siblings. If your child is constantly coaxed, begged, pleaded with or threatened about his food consumption, he will soon develop a complex about eating. He may even learn to vomit unwanted food or may develop a stomachache after taking in food which is forced upon him.
Conflicts that exist among family members usually show up at the dinner table. Bad news! Sometimes the day’s misdemeanors are reviewed, judgments are passed, and restrictions or disciplines are handed out. While all this may have nothing to do with the actual meal, it has a dampening effect and influence on those at the table.

Try The Following To Create a Meal Everyone Wants to Eat:

If your child has been playing vigorously before dinnertime, create a brief period of more quiet activity before the meal is served.
Ask your children to play a part in the preparation of the meal. Cutting the veggies, pouring the milk, table setting, serving, clearing, washing, drying – all or one of these activities creates a team environment, which most families need today.
Mealtime is a time for general conversation, so avoid some disagreements and concentrate on furnishing an occasion for each member to share their day’s experiences and plans with others of the family.
Try to encourage “joke telling” – as we all know that laughter helps digestion!

What’s Most Important About Mealtime?
Regardless of whether Your child’s appetite is good or not?

Family mealtimes are one of the few times in most houses that the whole family gets together to do the same thing at the same time. If these meals are fun for the child, they can be times when the child learns a good many things besides eating. Children learn manners, new words for their vocabulary, new experiences, how to talk to both adults and other children and many other social skills. Eating together allows your child to benefit from enjoying with you an intimate family situation. Bon Appetite!!!

For more information regarding eating habits, family time and relationships, please call The Parent-Child Connection Coach at 310-458-2079 or email me at linda@empoweringparentsnow.com. Find additional tips, articles and newsletters at www.empoweringparentsnow.com.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Milo is known as a "Parent-Child Connection" coach. Linda raised six of her own children as a single parent, in addition to being a nursery and middle school teacher. Linda volunteered for many years with the Family Tree where she helped coach unwed pregnant teenagers in the real joys of parenthood and successful parenting.