Many factors contribute to picky eating, such as taste and smell sensitivities and even sensory disorders such as neophobia, or fear of new foods. Whatever the reasons are for your child’s picky eating habits, you may have reservations about going out to eat. Use these tips to ensure successful restaurant outings with your picky eater so everyone at your table enjoys a pleasant, peaceful meal.
4 Tips for Managing a Picky Eater at a Restaurant
1. Let Them Look at the Menu Before You Leave
Review the restaurant menu with the child before going out, as the young one may make more of a fuss if they feel forced to eat at a certain establishment. Talk about how excited you are to try new things at the restaurant and give your child plenty of time to consider menu options. Stick to positive comments so they’re happy to go out to eat instead of nervous or worried.
2. Don’t Use Bribes
Avoid using bribes such as “You can have ice cream for dessert if you eat [x] food.” Bribes and negotiations teach your child that all they have to do is refuse food to get a sweet treat or something else of interest. This could lead to poor behavior in other situations, such as an unwillingness to rake leaves unless there is a reward involved.
3. Be a Good Example
Set a good example for your picky eater by trying and enjoying new foods. If you or your partner aren’t good role models in regards to what you will and will not eat, your child will follow suit. Children imitate their parents and are more likely to eat new foods with enthusiasm if their moms and dads do.
4. Start Small
Encourage your child to try something that is similar to a dish they love. If your child likes chicken fingers, for example, see if the little one will try wings in a mild sauce. It is highly likely the picky eater will become more versatile about meals if you start small.
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