[Parentsgroup-list] Toddler Eating Problem

Alexander Macalalad amacalal at hsph.harvard.edu
Mon Feb 8 23:58:44 EST 2010


The "no" phase is quite common (notorious even) in 2 year olds.  We have 
twin two year olds, so we get it in spades.

As I understand it, children in this phase are developing their sense of 
autonomy in the world, so it is important to nurture this sense, even as 
we maintain boundaries and safety.  How?  A battle of wills usually ends 
with (at least) two losers.  Better at this age to use firmness and 
redirection.  For example, "Yes, we are having macaroni and cheese.  Do 
you want to eat it with the blue fork or the yellow one?"  So I've done 
a few things here.  I've reasserted that the choice for dinner has 
already been made (by me or by them) and is no longer open to 
negotiation.  Then I've distracted them by presenting a different 
choice, and another opportunity to make a choice and assert their 
autonomy.  And in the larger picture, I've modeled for them how the 
world works, and how they can function in the world with rules and 
constrained choices.  Most importantly, I have showed them that I 
support their autonomy and their choices.

There are a few good books that go into more detail, but the one that 
pops up in my mind is "Positive Discipline" by J. Nelson.

As for the picky eating, I make it a point to always have a well 
balanced variety of foods available, and not to worry (at least out 
loud) about how little or how much they are eating.  My five year old is 
picky about foods, which I don't discourage because he has food 
allergies, so it's good that he's careful about what he eats.  He eats 
in spurts, much as you describe your two year old eating, and he is 75% 
in height and 50% in weight on the growth charts.  So it all evens out.  
I do make a point of restricting milk to one glass each meal, and water 
in between, and emphasizing nutritious snacks (fruits and vegetables 
over juices and junk food), under the theory that if they are going to 
restrict their calories, at least make those calories as nutritious as 
possible.  You don't mention whether your family is vegetarian -- if so, 
then you also have to make adequate protein available (as you no doubt 
are already aware).

Hope this helps.

Alex

On 2/8/2010 7:15 PM, Meeta Sharma Gupta wrote:
> Hi All,
>
> My son, who is 2 years now, is quite picky with food. He has been subjected to quite a lot of changes in the last few months, first  a new daycare, then travel to India for almost 2 months and now back to his daycare. He used to be quite good with food, even try to eat on his own before all these changes started. Now, he will eat with a lot of fuss, and everything is a 'no' 'no'. there are some good days when he eats happily. I try to keep myself as calm about this but I am looking for any possible advice regarding this. Is this a phase which will pass? How should i get him interested in food?
>
> Also, how should i deal with his saying 'no' to everything problem? His first reply to anything, any activity is a 'no'. Is this a sign of his resentment to all the change he has gone through? He is in general a very happy kid and very sociable. This new changes in his behavior make me feel guilty about all these changes we put him through.
>
> Looking forward to some advice,
> Best,
> Meeta
> (Mother of Aarush, 2)
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