Politeness and Your Toddler

Food Fights


Every time I put a plate of food in front of my 2-year-old, he screams, "Yucky!" I'm not crazy about this behavior and I don't want him to do this at other people's houses. What should I do?


Though no one likes her cooking criticized -- particularly by someone whose idea of fine dining usually involves Tater Tots -- try not to overreact to your son's behavior. There's nothing more satisfying to a little kid than a big commotion over something he's said and done. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't address his behavior and try to nip it in the bud right away. After all, good table manners are important.

Appeal to your child's growing sense of empathy. You could say, "It makes me sad when my food is yucky, so please don't say that anymore," Wallace suggests. You can also let him know that if he doesn't like certain foods, it's perfectly fine for him to say, "No, thank you."

Because food fussiness is a common issue among toddlers, you may also want to rethink how you deal with your son's meals. Picky eating is often rooted in a toddler's need for independence, so resist the urge to constantly argue over food. If your child doesn't eat something, don't worry about it -- healthy toddlers don't starve to death! It's also worth taking a look at what you serve your son; little kids are usually pretty averse to strong-flavored or bitter foods. You may have to tweak your cooking a bit to appeal to his toddler taste buds, advises Wallace. Teaching your son good table manners and examining your own behavior will stop rude food talk.

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