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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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Would like some ideas on how to encourage 7 year old daughter

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Would like some ideas on how to encourage 7 year old daughter to eat fruit and vegetables without a battle + to enjoy them. Difficulty may be more to do with defiant / strong willed nature than food taste. She says she doesn't like the texture / bits

Dr. L :

Hello,


 

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.


 

Dr. L :

A quick google search on how to get kids to eats fruits and vegetables is going to turn up lots and lots of helpful tips. However, from what you have written you are doing a great job getting your daughter invested in eating these things. That has me wondering if the issue is more about her strong-willed nature and less about the foods themselves.


 

Dr. L :

Texture can be an issue with kids..and even adults. The way to assess this is to see if she has the same texture issue with similar foods. Is it just the fruits and veggies she complains about? Or...does she also protest when eating nuts, grains, protein, dairy. Are all apple varieties a problem for her...or just some. Is every variety of orange an issue..or just some.


 

Dr. L :

Let's take a look at the strong-willed personality. These kids know that they can control what goes into their body and comes out. So...this can become a long term battle if not dealt with early on.


 

Dr. L :

While I am going to suggest a good parenting book to read and use, I am also going to provide some sage advice.


 

Dr. L :

In my experience, one of the best ways to handle a strong-willed child is to say, "Honey, it's your body and your choice. You can choose to eat healthy and have a strong and healthy body. Or, you can make poor choices about food and not grow and develop in a healthy way. It's your choice. I will shop and prepare good food and I am very happy when you shop with me. It's your choice. Healthy foods or unhealthy foods. I won't pressure you or rush you to make a decision. But you have a choice."


 

Dr. L :

In this way you have given her some power - limited power. You have made it clear that she has control of what goes in her body and comes out. Because that is a true thing. You can't force feed her. But! You can control what you will and will not prepare, what you will and will not buy. That's where you have real power. By giving her the ability to decide about her own body, you are prevent a battle that you cannot win. You are teaching her about choices and inviting her to make a good choice. In essence, there can be no fight. You acknowledge where she has control and where you have control.


 

Dr. L :

How does this sound?


 

Dr. L :

The book I would encourage you to get is:


 

Dr. L :

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Their website is: www.loveandlogic.com.


 

Dr. L :

The website has a host of wonderful resources..including lots of parent experiences.


 

Customer:

Yes we think is more to do with strong willed nature though can be fussy about egg yolk, cold chicken in a sandwich + some apples (i.e. are too soft and not crispy enough). We have in last year said the above about it being her choice to be healthy etc and that does have some effect on her as she does want to be healthy. She will often ask if a food is healthy or not.


We want advice on how to respond when she plays up (i.e. saying food is disgusting, crying as if we were serving poison etc). What if any consequence should we give ( e.g. no desserts / nothing til next meal / talk it through at a later time)? Her 4 year old sister currently eats well / enjoys food and we don't want her to start copying and getting attention in the same way?


 

Dr. L :

Thanks for the additional information. It's great to hear how well you are responding to her and that she is motivated to eat healthy. Your concerns about your younger daughter are very very valid.


 

Dr. L :

Punishment doesn't work. Plain and simple. So...if she gets into that whining about the food being disgusting and so forth. The response is, "I hear (or see) that you don't like the mashed potatoes. That


 

Customer:

Do we put any limits / boundaries on sweet foods e.g. chocolate, cakes etc?

Dr. L :

's fine darling. There are other choices here on the table (refer to what else you have prepared and are serving). Then drop it. I encourage you to not make any big deal about her whining, about her comments about the disgusting food, or so forth. Just handle it quickly and move on to another topic. Do NOT offer to prepare something different. What is on the table is what is on the table.


 

Dr. L :

Yes...I would slowly remove these from the menu and only have them on special occasions. Things like sugarless jello with fresh fruit and whipped cream is a better choice. Yogurt ice cream is healthier than old-fashioned ice cream. Adding fresh fruit to a slim piece of cake or with a cookie is a way to transition over to more fruit and less sweets.


 

Customer:

Thanks it's all really helpful + given us confidence to respond better and less emotionally. We do often wonder how we've ruined her for life by getting annoyed and into battles with her. It's reassuring to know how to handle her appropriately as it has been said that you don't need to have a battle to get her to do anything you need a full scale war!

Dr. L :

Think about how to substitute fresh fruit and veggies into the menu. Then it's not like she will feel deprived.


 

Dr. L :

LOL to your comment!


 

Dr. L :

Strong-willed children can be a handful...but they also are a joy in that their independence often means that they are very bright and will become an accomplished adult.


 

Dr. L :

There is a very good book on the subject. Let me check quickly for the title.


 

Dr. L :

Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child by Robert MacKenzie


 

Dr. L :

might be worth taking a look at. The Love and Logic website will also be helpful.


 

Dr. L :

And absolutely...try to keep the emotions out of it. Remember that the tail should not wag the dog! You are the parent and you control the house. Where she has legitimate power is over her body. She doesn't control what foods are bought in the house or how they are prepared and served. That's the parents job.


 

Customer:

Thanks so much for advice.

Dr. L :

From everything you have written, you seem like wise and compassionate parents. You have NOT ruined her for life.


 

Dr. L :

Is there anything else I can help you with this evening?


 

Customer:

No that's fine. You've made it seem a more normal situation that can be tackled rather than a hopeless case. Her dad worried that because she used food for attention she would develop an unhealthy relationship with food and end up with some food disorder for attention.


Thanks very much. Will give a good rating!


Bye

Dr. L :

Yes...this is a common issue with kids and it definitely isn't hopeless. I can certainly see where you would worry about an eating disorder, but if you support her legitimate control then that ought to be just fine.


 

Dr. L :

Take care!


 

Dr. L :

If you should ever need to chat in the future, just ask for me by name.


 

Dr. L :

 


 

Dr. L :

Good night!


 

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