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Make Your Child Eat Their Dinner!


“I am tired of my child not eating dinner”.  The answer is to make your child eat their dinner.  What a fantastic example of conventional behaviour management in regards to eating.

I remember as a child it took me 2 hours to eat an English muffin.  Yep that was 2 hours.  I couldn’t stand the taste, the texture but I was forced to eat it.  I have only just tried one again at 40 and yep still do not like the texture.

We were told that we must finish everything on our plates even if we hated it.  I am sure in many homes this is the case still.  I do not like food being put in the bin either.

However for children who have Sensory Processing Disorder with Defensive modulation, the food area can be extremely challenging.  Her oral area is the worst sensory area.  We did the conventional method of not making her anything different and she chose not eating.  We introduced her new foods.  But nothing worked and believe me it will not work whatever your tried.

For a child who has oral defensiveness, their amygdala part of the brain and is on fight and flight mode 24/7.  Can you imagine what that would be like for her?  Could you imagine being scared of food even if it a carrot when all you are eating was beige foods. For Emma the colour of food can send her running under the table as she is only eating beige foods.  The texture could set her running under the table.  The smell could send her running under the table.

There is a photo of her in Prep on a day the class made jelly for an activity.  All the children were enjoying eating jelly and Emma was hiding under the table.  Even yesterday all of her class had a cinnamon donut in their hand and Emma had the serviette because she did not want to even try it.  It is a really hard world that she lives in.

She is currently seeing an Occupational Therapist who is helping her with an eating program.  This has been a sensational program as the OT also has the same issues and she can explain Emma’s world.  Nevertheless, through this program Emma is eating apples in crumb size.  She is tolerating having something red on her plate.  She is touching food more often.  All of these small steps come to big things.  As my OT explained even at the age of 25, she also has to keep practising with food so that she does not have to start again with the tolerance process.  We take eating for granted and never put ourselves in their shoes.

In a social media group, I read a post about a mum having similar troubles.  The suggestions totally shocked me as there was giving your child tough love, that they manipulate you to get what they want and the list went on.  I am positive your child would want to enjoy their food if they could.  I don’t like making 2-3 different meals each night and I also get frustrated.  But I have to put myself in her shoes.  When she does try something different it is a massive achievement.  Then I had another thought.  Do you make food you do not like every night.  The answer is no.  Yes as parent’s we do from time to time. But we do not do it all the time.  So if we do not eat food we do not like on a daily basis, then why make your child eat the food they do not like?

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Meal times do not need to be a battle because you will only increase the problems.  Meal times is about connecting with your family.

A great way to regulate your child to reduce their defensiveness are get your child to do some gross motor activity.  Then get them to do some oral exercises like an electric tooth brush or some blowing activities before eating to help desensitise their mouth.


Conventional methods of behaviour management of making your child eat their dinner will only work for those children who do not have any problems with their oral sensory systems.  If it is not working then stop doing it and seek professional assistance like an Occupational therapist to help your child.  They do not want to struggle with their eating either.


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