Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Monday where I respond to email questions from parents who are having difficulty with their child’s behavior. Today, we have a question in from Kristen who writes:
We recently attended one of your feeding clinics. I’m proud to say that our child is doing GREAT!!! Here is my question: our child will eat anything you put in front of her as long as there is peanut butter bread on the plate.
We still require her to eat bites of new food before she can have the peanut butter bread. If we do not have the peanut butter bread on the plate, we still make her eat her food, but it takes three times as long and there is a lot of crying and screaming.
So is it okay to keep that one food on her plate at lunch and supper? Or do you advise to battle it out with her and not give it to her?
This is an excellent question Kristen!
Well, for those of you who know me, you know I am never one to allow the children to make the rules. So, my advice to you is to have something preferred at every meal–just not the same preferred food. In other words…..battle it out.
Over time, your child will get less and less of the preferred food while you are simultaneously requiring your child to eat more and more of the non-preferred food. For example, let’s say that your child likes coconut yogurt. For dinner she is having her protein, fruit, vegetable, and starch. Initially, you give her one bite of any of the non-preferred foods followed by one regular size bite of yogurt. After 2 or 3 bites, the yogurt bites becomes smaller and smaller so by the end of the meal, she is only getting a dollop of yogurt. Meanwhile, after a couple of bites of non-preferred followed by single bites of yogurt, you say, “Now I want you to eat 2 bites before you get yogurt”. After 4-6 bites, then say, “now I want you to eat 3 bites before yogurt”. You keep doing this until she is eating most of her meal before she gets the preferred food. That is what we do, right? We eat the food and then we get the good stuff (dessert)!
I have no concerns with her having some peanut butter and bread following some meals but you should not allow her to have it at every meal. In terms of food allergies, there may be some issues with eating that same food meal after meal so it will be important to wean her off of it quickly.
Now for the screaming and crying…..once you get her eating a few bites, then you say, “oh, you can only have the _______ if you eat your food without fussing”. When or if she fusses, put her bite of preferred food in the trash and tell her, “No _____ because you screamed. You need to eat without screaming.”
I hope this helps. Keep reminding her who the boss is!
If you have a question that you would like to see in a future post, please email me at: askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com.