Nothing can really prepare a parent for the seemingly arbitrary nature of their preschool child’s appetite. It can seem as if their preferences change with the wind, that the things they are repulsed by aren’t grounded in any discernible logic, and that they’ll only ever eat the things you’d rather them not.
However, you should know that although no two picky preschool appetites are exactly the same, there are certain ways to approach pickiness in general that can help your child develop beyond their exceedingly particular preferences. At the very least, these tips can help ensure that they get the nourishment they need so you can rest a bit more easily.
These methods are taught at Montessori preschool, but they can also be implemented at home.
1. Carefully Pair Familiar with Unfamiliar
One of the more effective ways to get your preschool child to start picking up new foods is to use something of a Trojan Horse method. Prepare them something you know they like, and then combine that with a small amount of something you’d like them to become more accustomed to.
For example, if your child likes cheese but hates vegetables, you may want to put some cheese on broccoli and see if that changes their outlook.
Once you’ve gotten them to accept a new type of food, you can then use it as a “food bridge” to bring them to other similar foods. Anything that has comparable flavors, textures, or even colors should be next on your list of foods to introduce them to. If you can genuinely compare it to something they like, they’ll be much more likely to try it.
2. Don’t Turn It into a Battle
Nothing will attach a negative connotation to food like fighting with your preschool child about it or forcing them to eat a meal. Of course, you want your child to eat and get the nourishment they need, but trying to force it on them can ultimately make them dislike certain foods, leading them to become an even more picky eater down the road.
It’s also important not to resort to offering reward foods as a way of avoiding a battle over your child’s eating habits. This can certainly be effective, but it will also paint the meal your child needs to eat to earn their reward as a painful chore. This avoidance of external reward is an important aspect of the Montessori philosophy.
3. Be Patient
Finding patience with a picky preschool child is something far easier said than done, but the more grace you can find when dealing with your picky eater, the more success you’re likely to have in the long run.
People learn to enjoy certain flavors over time, and sometimes it can take quite a while. That’s true about your child, too. Be patient and persistent and you’ll be surprised at where it can get you.
4. Have Fun with It
Turning mealtime into an obligatory chore is no way to inspire an adventurous eater. You should always try to bring some joy to eating, whether that means decorating a plate, cutting food into interesting shapes, making their meal into a smiley face, or simply allowing your little one to take part in the choosing and cooking of the meal itself.
Interested in Montessori Preschool?
If you’d like to know more about how a Montessori preschool can help your child, contact Flagstaff Montessori today.