Picky Eating 101: Why Releasing Control Can Lead to Huge Progress

Posted by

Breanne Haeger, MOT, OTR/L

Time to read

2 minutes

As humans we all want to be in control. As parents you may hear statements like “control your child” or that child is “out of control”. You might feel like picky eating is something that you need to “get under control.” This concept comes up everywhere. We are supposed to “be in control” right?!

We are going to take a different stance on this. 

Nothing is control.

Yes–sometimes it might feel that it is. But literally the only thing that you can ever control is your response to events and your actions. That is both freeing and a little terrifying to those of us that associate control with safety. 

Picky eating playing with food

We do not and cannot teach you how to control your child’s picky eating habits.

That doesn’t work. It creates power struggles and that do not result in lasting progress in the long run. 

We want you to feel empowered with what is in your control, AND your child to feel empowered with what is in their control. When we feel that no one is trying to take control away from us, we feel more safe and open to try new things. 

That is what picky eaters need most. Safety.

And YOU, as an incredible parent that cares so much about their child, you benefit from this too.

So what can YOU control?

  • You control what your child is served.
  • You control how you respond to their behaviors during mealtime (and any other time for that matter).
  • You control how much of a food is available.
  • You control when food is available and your mealtime routines.
  • You control your energy that you bring to the table.

What does your child get to control?

  • They get to control how much they eat.
  • They get to control if they even touch or taste a particular food.
  • They control their behavior at mealtime.
  • They control what foods they decide to eat or not to eat. 

It is not your job to control these things for your child. You can let that go. We give you permission (not that you need it). We find that when we release control of other’s actions and behaviors, we all feel more satisfied with the experience. 

Power struggles are the enemy to eating progress. And as the adults, we are able to model this differentiation of roles for our children. 

AND– give yourself grace with this. You are human, and you are going to try to control other humans. It’s natural. But when you approach a mealtime we invite you to remind yourself what you are intending to control and create in the mealtime. Take a breath, and most importantly have FUN!

Let us know if this helps you and if you are interested in seeing if your child might qualify for feeding therapy, book a FREE Consultation with one of our amazing OT Feeding Specialists!

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