How does a child become a picky eater?

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Answered by: Russell, An Expert in the Behavior of Children Category
Here are some tips that will ensure your kid grows up to become a picky eater and eventually codependent. With any amount of luck, your kid might become one of the pickiest eaters of all: a vegan.

1. Force it - If your kid doesn't want to try the Eggplant Parmesan that you slaved over a hot stove for 3 hours because its "gross", make sure you keep the entire family at the table until your child finishes eating every last bite. After all, you burned your hands trying to prepare a meal for your loved ones, and he dares to say it's "gross"? Forcing them to try something new shows that you, the parent, are in charge.

Kids will try anything to get out of eating something they don't want to. They'll throw it, they'll cry, they'll make themselves vomit. All of these can be done right back to them. If my kid is screaming bloody murder and has her mouth open nice and wide, I can toss a bit of food right in there. That shuts her up for a little while. If your kid tries to make themselves sick, let them, then make them clean it up (we call this "character building"). Don't tell them that there are starving people in Africa/China/under the bridge who would gladly eat it, as this might set their mind whirling about how they can send it to them - then you'll have a whiny goth or emo teenager who gives all your money some charity.

2. "Clean your plate!" - This goes along with the "Force it" idea, however I must make it a point to ensure that you force your child to eat everything on his or her plate. This is important because you want to make sure that your child isn't wasteful in the future. Explain how the economy is falling and that Mommy and Daddy work very hard to ensure that this ungrateful child is able to eat every day.

3. Make meal time a competition - Try to race mommy and daddy to the ice cream desert. Whoever finishes their dinner first gets to eat all of the ice cream right there at the table in front of everyone. Just make sure mommy or daddy always finish first, but try to make it a close finish. This will help to make sure that they eat almost all of their dinner (since it was a "close" finish, they should be almost done as well). Eventually, there will be a time that your kid finishes before you do. This is a good time to introduce "second helpings".

4. Keep meal-planning and cooking a secret - Make sure you don't tell the kids about nutrition and how food keeps their bodies healthy.

For boys: Don't include them in the process of cooking. Make sure, however, they see Mommy and (if applicable) sister in the kitchen cooking dinner. This will teach the young boys that cooking and women go together. If your young man enters the kitchen for any other reason than to go to the fridge for a drink, make sure you give them a spanking and tell them that boys have no business in the kitchen.

For girls: Start out with only allowing them to do dishes. Turn the hot water heater up a bit to make sure the water is hot enough to sting, but not hot enough to leave burns. If she cries, tell her to grow up. They must learn to deal with it, because if they're going to have kids, they're in for a lot of pain. After they "graduate" from dishes, they can start cooking for you. Don't tell them how to cook, let them figure it out. When they get married later on, who will they ask for help then? Their husbands? Boys have no business in the kitchen.

5. Don't add any variety to their menu - Kids and babies love routine, right? Don't give the baby what the rest of the family is eating. Instead, make a special effort to only cook what the baby likes. If the baby likes eggs, make sure you cook eggs for baby all the time. Variety may be the spice of life, but spice causes heartburn.

Using these 5 tips, you will surely set your children on to the right path to become a picky eater. I've always heard the saying "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink". That's crap. If you can't make your horse drink, you haven't broken him properly. Tears are water, too.

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