Mealtimes can be stressful for parents when children refuse to eat the food on their plate. It is common for parents to worry about their children not eating, which often means parents will try to accommodate the children by making more than one meal. Children grow up and learn how to exercise their power by making their own decisions. With this easy-to-follow food chart, children will not only be able to choose their meals but will lend for a more consistent schedule for the entire family.
Weekly Meal Chart:
Start by creating a weekly chart including each day of the week. Begin by picking one meal to chart, which can include the most difficult meal for the child. Parents can then print off a number of foods, with the pictures, that the child enjoys. For example, if the family chooses breakfast, the parents can print out pictures of foods that the child usually eats, including oatmeal, cereal, fruit, etc. At the beginning of each week, help the child pick out which food to put on each day. This action will give the child the power of choosing the food and give the parents a visual reminder of what food will be eaten on each day.
Once the chart is filled out, put in on the refrigerator as a visual reminder for the entire family. Parents should make sure to stay consistent with the chart and only offer the food listed for the day. If the child refuses to eat the meal presented, put the food aside and allow the child to take a break. The child may become upset and need some time to calm down with some toys. Once calm, parents can remind the child that he/she can eat the food when ready. Usually, children will give in to the food after they see that the parents are only offering the one meal without other choices. It may be difficult for parents and child to adjust to the chart in the beginning, as the child is used to getting more options, but the more the parents stay consistent with the system, the faster the child will learn the routine.
Brittany Hill, MS, MSW, LSW, DT