How To Get Children To Eat, Overcome The Most Common Mistakes | El Salvador News

Children entertained on the phone or on a tablet while eating and using food as a reward or punishment are part of the mistakes parents make in food education. In this article we tell you what to do so that the little ones have good eating habits.

Technology, hurried lifestyles and different distractions are taking its toll on food, and not only in adults but also in children, since it is in the family where eating habits are formed. Hence it is customary to see children eating and attentive on their mobile devices, one of the most common mistakes, according to nutrition experts.

The main problem, according to Healthy Children, is that children are not aware of the feeding process and do not develop the social skills involved in sharing a table.


“Children want to play, move, meet other children (…) and the solution of the tablet or mobile comes when we want to take them to a context that is not theirs: sit them for two hours at a table surrounded by adults and not bother us ”, considered the dietitian-nutritionist Aitor Sánchez in the article“ Eat watching the mobile and other errors in infant feeding ”, by EFESALUD.

This note addresses the main mistakes that parents comment when feeding their children and breaks down:

Do we have to force the child to eat?
"I don't like this" or "I'm not hungry" are two of the common phrases when it comes to eating, but do you have to force them to eat?

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not forcing a child to eat. It is not a corrective, ”explained dietitian-nutritionist Lucia Martinez, and added that if the child is hungry, he will let him know, so it is better to wait for the child to express that need.

For the nutritionist, when a child is forced to eat or distracted with TV to put spoonfuls in his mouth, he runs the risk of “loading the appetite and satiety mechanism that tells them when they are hungry and when to stop” ; and the problem is that this is how unhealthy relationships with food are formed.

The caprice before the food on the part of the infants is another usual experience, but for Martínez it is the responsibility of the caregivers to have healthy food options at home, so there will be no temptations.

"Let him choose, but controlling the offer," said the dietitian.

Food as a reward or punishment
Nutritionists stressed that food should never be used as a reward or punishment.
“Besides, the prize is never an apple, it is insane food like candy, while the punishment will be lentils or chard. I give you the bad as a reward and I heal as punishment, an incongruity, ”said Lucia Martinez.

The dietitian warned that using food as a reward or punishment may also predispose us to have a bad relationship in the future with food.

"Let's not use food, which is something absolutely necessary, by way of blackmail, nor do we do it with daily obligations such as dressing or bathing," he added.

In addition, falling into the error of using food as punishment facilitates the appearance of food phobias, says the Childhood Obesity site of Consumer Spain.

EDH photo / Shutterstock

Involve children in food
The rules are necessary for the child to know the limits, rules that must be met by all, children and adults, but before this Childhood Obesity explains that care must be taken, since the moment must be relaxed – not lacking some rules -, for family reunion, dialogue and personal enjoyment.

Martínez and Sánchez point out that it is best to include children in the different facets of food: when thinking about the menu, go shopping, cooking, setting up and decorating.

In their book "What do I feed him?", The authors warn that this active participation does not become an alternation ("One day we make the plate that plays and the next we make your favorite food", for example).

That alternative choice model is already predisposing the child to choose the “compensatory” meal because the family dish will be the healthy one.

We must take measures and exemplary behaviors to give the child a food education that will help him protect himself from the obesogenic environment of today's society.