5 Ways You May Be Unintentionally Teaching Your Kids Not to Eat Dinner

I ran across this great blog post today and loved the insights. Here is a partial list of uh-ohs from Dina Rose, a sociologist with a specialty in food and parenting. Check out her comments on how we can affect dinnertime based on how we approach it.

Trouble spots:

1) Let your child eat a snack or appetizer (cheese and crackers, hummus and chips) just before dinner. Lesson learned: Dinner isn't really important; I fill up whenever I eat; Snacks are tastier than meals.

2) Serve a delicious dessert that your child knows is coming (because you keep telling her she has to eat a few more bites of dinner if she wants some), and which she thinks is worth holding out for. Lesson learned: Dinner is a chore but desserts rock; Mom and Dad think desserts are tastier than "real" food too; I know exactly how much I have to eat before I'm allowed to get to the good stuff.

3) Reward your childís refusal to even taste what youíve cooked by whipping up something you know he prefers. (This technique works best if you have a bit of a fight with your child before giving in.) Lesson learned: When I'm stubborn I get my way; Sometimes it takes a good fight to get the "good" food, but it's worth it.

4) Give in to your childís request for an after-dinner snack because youíre afraid sheíll get hungry sometime during the night. Lesson learned: Why eat dinner? There's always something better later; Saying "I'm hungry" is a great procrastination technique; My parents fear my hunger, maybe I should too.

5) Tell your child he should eat something because itís healthy, because he wants to grow up big and strong, because his big brother eats it. Lesson learned: I know I don't want to eat that food because my parents have taught me that healthy food tastes bad (see Lesson #2).

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