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youflutherme's avatar

Help! How do I get my 10-year-old daughter to stop being such a picky eater?

Asked by youflutherme (2points) July 27th, 2008

My 10-year-old daughter will not eat what she is served. I cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the girl will not eat. I end up having to make something she will eat, or I tell her to grab something herself. My other child eats with no problem. We have eliminated the possibility of a medical problem, we have tried just about everything I can think of. We have consulted her pediatrician, an eating specialist and she still refuses to eat anything other than what she wants. Unfortunately, what she wants is just about nothing save push-ups, garlic cheese bread, and peanut butter (not real healthy choices). Anyone have any suggestions?

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20 Answers

Dog's avatar

We have a picky eater too.
She is not allowed to eat anything except what is served or Cheerios. This has expanded her willingness to try new food.
Worked for us.

jcs007's avatar

I was a very, very picky eater when I was little. Sometimes, I’d go days on end just eating McDonald’s (I had a fast metabolism, so no problem there). Eventually, I got sick of the food. If you’re willing to wait it out, then she should eventually get sick of the food she’s eating. Then again, I probably wouldn’t want to wait for so long if my child wasn’t eating properly.

Oh. And another thing. Forcing her to eat something definitely won’t work.

And I second Dog’s answer.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

I have a nephew that is exactly the same way, though his food choices include chicken fingers, french fries and corn dogs. It can be frustrating at times, especially since most of the time I feel like I’m the only one that’s willing to try to expand for dietary horizons. His mother and grandmother tend to indulge him, if only to avoid hassle. My one success I have enjoyed is getting him to eat salad (something I frequently serve with his lunches when I watch him) on threat of physical labor (eight year olds apparently don’t find the idea of scrubbing a toilet appealing. Who knew?) and no television or video games.

It’s an up hill battle, I’m sure, but keep at it. Dog’s idea is fantastic, and definitely worth a try.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Well, Just stop giving her what ever she wants, and she will eventually get so hungry she will eat what ever you throw in front of her. It’s not like shes going to kill herself from starvation. You just have to have the will power to put up with her attitude for the first week or so till she gets the idea you arn’t gonna give in to her crap.

augustlan's avatar

@Lkid…not a good strategy. I have an 12 year old girl who stopped eating ANYTHING @ age 8 due to, believe it or not, a choking phobia. She was 1/2 pound away from a feeding tube when we finally hit on something she would eat. Melted vanilla ice cream with Ensure mixed in, then chocolate syrup to cover the awful taste of Ensure. She ate NOTHING but that for an entire year. It took months of therapy w/ the only specialist in the country and lots of medication to get her to eat a very limited variety of food. The specialist told us to NEVER force or even cajole her into eating things…when we did it set the whole situation back. Our pediatrician and the therapist each said that eating a very limited diet, even only 1 thing, is not that big a deal if you can be sure they’re getting vitamins and protein and fat. This is nearly always a temporary situation that will sort itself out over time with encouragement. She is now at a healthy weight, with a much more varied diet, though still picky. Good luck.

EnzoX24's avatar

My younger brother is 14 years old and stil refuses to eat what my parents make. I believe that if children do not try new foods at an early age, by the time they get older they already have it in their heads that anything they don’t like already will taste bad to them.

I believe there is no hope for my brother, and the only thing I can do is pick up on my parents mistakes with him and not make the same ones with my own children.

PupnTaco's avatar

Ten is old enough to learn about cooking. Go to the library or bookstore and pick up a fun cookbook – it can be geared towards kids or not, as long as it’s something engaging she’ll be interested in. Read through it together, let her pick the recipe, go buy the ingredients together, cook together and I’m pretty sure you can foster a love of food and a more open mind. Start small and work towards more challenging flavors.

MacBean's avatar

@augustian—There’s a big difference between a stubborn picky eater and a kid with a debilitating phobia. A strategy like “eat what is served, or Cheerios, or nothing” wouldn’t work for the latter, but it sounds like youflutherme’s problem is the former. And I’ve seen that strategy work pretty often. It worked on me! If I didn’t like what was cooked, I was allowed a bologna sandwich, which I wasn’t crazy about but could stomach if I had to. So I usually gave the family meal a try.

I don’t eat bologna anymore, though. haha

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@ augustian, yeah the kid having a phobia is probably a pretty rare case. Of all the young kids in the world who refuse to eat different foods, what percentage actually has a legit phobia. Its like, of all the people in the world who hate spiders, what percentage actually have a true phobia of them. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying your kid doesn’t have a phobia, I am just saying in almost all cases, the kid will eat before starving himself to death.

augustlan's avatar

I totally get what you guys are saying…the phobia wasn’t so much the point, as the set up for further food difficulties. But, you’re right, it was an extreme case. In doing the therapy with her though, we learned about a lot of strategies for any picky eater. The “eat what’s cooked or cheerios (or whatever food they WILL eat that’s acceptable to parents)” strategy is a sound one. Eat NOTHING, is not (according to the specialist and docs).

augustlan's avatar

We also learned about “super tasters”...a large majority of picky eaters actually have a more sensitive palate, and are able to pick up unpleasant tastes that the rest of us don’t.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

hmmm yeah i think i heard that before about more sensitive palates and such, when ever i feel like numbing my sense of taste permanently, I just take a few shots of everclear

augustlan's avatar

@youflutherme Try Dr. Chatoor @ Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC. She’s the specialist I was talking about.

loki's avatar

do nothing
Feed the kid what it wants
Life is hard enough without having to eat shit you don’t like!

aisyna's avatar

dont give her a choice…..if she dosent eat wat is served then dont eat, its tough love

whiteowl's avatar

I can suggest to explain her (she is a big girl) that she has better conditions then many other kids. If she will pick she might loose what she has…
It worked with me.

eadinad's avatar

Ten is too young to make choices about what to eat and not eat, especially if she only picks unhealthy foods. In my family, my siblings and I could either choose to eat the meal served, or not eat at all. We weren’t allowed to just get snacks later, either.

I suggest sitting your daughter down, and having a discussion with her, telling her that things are going to change. Be kind but firm. Let her know the plan is now that she eats what is served or not at all.

THen implement that plan, and don’t be swayed. She has to know you are serious. It really won’t take long – kids don’t like being hungry. (But it won’t really hurt them.)

Of course, if she really doesn’t eat for a long period of time (say two whole days) then you might want to take her to a doctor or therapist and see if there is some deeper issue.

Good luck.

charybdys's avatar

One of my friends is a picky eater. When he was four years old, his mother wanted him to eat what she cooked, and wouldn’t let him eat anything else. At the end of the second day he began shaking and she took him to a doctor. Doctor’s advice: “with a child this stubborn, who will starve instead of eating certain things, you’re going to have to pick your battles.”

Anyway, I would recommend having them eat what is served or nothing, but start with things that kids generally like, and not broccoli or kale. And if that doesn’t work live with it.

skfinkel's avatar

Food is one of those areas where children have the power to control the situation. And the issue of weight around peers is a huge problem, starting very young.

What I would do (and did with my own children) was take all the issue, struggle, and angst out of food issues. Feed the child what she wants—even if it means making separate dishes for one child. Never tell them to finish what they don’t want to eat. Respect the child’s wishes over her own diet and body—unless it is all sugar or really seriously bad choices for them. (All candy would not be acceptable.) And, you can also teach about healthy food, continue making delicious and good food for the rest of the family. It will soon become a non-problem. Just let it go.

And what dinner time can become is a time to discuss interesting things that happened all day, fun puzzles, etc. In other words, dinner becomes fun and not a power struggle.

sulli's avatar

We have the same problem. My 10 year old daughter stays with me at weekends and refuses to eat what we serve – and limits her “likes” to chicken and chips. She has now started to refuse that as well and just sits and cries. She is verging on underweight and has epilepsy too. Me and my partner are at our wits end and short of force feeding do not know what to do about it. Good luck to all in the same situation but would be grateful for any idea.

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