Cajoling your young ones into eating greens and veggies that they don’t like is a battle fought by almost every parent on every continent during every meal time. Of course, the parents only have their child’s good health and best interest at heart, but a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan shows that forcing kids to eat foods that they do not like is not only largely unnecessary but can also strain the parent-child relationship.
The study was conducted on a sample of 244 children between 21 to 27 months old. Data pertaining to these children’s weight, sex, age, race, ethnicity, as well as sociological facts such as the structure of their family and their mother’s educational attainment were also collected. The researchers observed the subjects’ eating behaviors and deduced some interesting findings. Here are the two major reasons why you should let your kids leave out what they don’t like.
It Doesn’t Affect The Child’s Health
According to the study, which has been published in the journal Appetite, although coaxing your child not going to reap long-term benefits, their being picky eaters won’t hamper their growth and development either.
Dr. Julie Lumeng, director of the U-M Center for Human Growth and Development and a physician at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, explained in a statement: “We found that over a year of life in toddlerhood, weight remained stable on the growth chart whether they were picky eaters or not.
“The kids’ picky eating also was not very changeable. It stayed the same whether parents pressured their picky eaters or not”, Lumeng added. So, stop stressing yourself over your kid not eating enough greens or fresh fruits.
It Can Hamper Parent-Child Relationship
Not only is the entire forcing-your-kid-to-eat activity needless, it can also damage the parent-child relationship in addition to sparking tension during mealtimes.
“Pressuring children to eat needs to be done with caution, and we don’t have much evidence that it helps with much,” she said. “As a parent, if you pressure, you need to make sure you’re doing it in a way that’s good for the relationship with your child”, explains Lumeng.
What You Can Do Instead
That said, you could ease your kid into trying new vegetables and give them a chance to try the food a few times before they declare that they like or dislike it. Serve them little portions of veggies so that you can not only eliminate the need to reheat all the food each time but also cut back on food waste. Additionally, parents could also experiment with recipes using ingredients that their child likes to eat.
“Favoring just a couple of foods or not wanting foods to touch each other on the plate are normal behaviors. These behaviors often go away by the time your child is about 5 years old,” adds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a nutshell, it is okay if your child likes the potatoes more than the string beans because they might change their preference in the long run or they might not find the need to do it at all. So, sit back and serve them another helping of some mash.