One of the most common and yet frustrating questions parents have is ‘how do I get my child to eat, they are so fussy’.  It is typical for mum to cook dinner, place it on the table and for children to appear, take one look, mumble something or blantantly announce that ‘they don’t like that, I’m not going to eat it!’.  They will then stubbornly sit through the meal, refusing to eat despite the dozen different tactics their parents try.

Parents are both creative and desperate in their attempts to get their children to eat.  They have a running commentary, con their kids, bribe them with treats to follow, try to physically feed them, sing, clap, dance, and when frustration sets in out comes the guilt, threats or emotional manipulation.  Now this is the parents not the kids!

Well the good news is that problems with food are almost never about food.  The problem is about power.  From the kids view they are in charge, not mum or dad.  Just look at what a powerful position they are in and what mum and dad do when they refuse to eat…… dancing, singing, bribery…… a very powerful position and one they use to full advantage.

Clearly mum is the only person with the knowledge and wisdom to decide what’s for dinner and to be in charge.  Mum has the knowledge and experience to know what are healthy choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Step 1 - in taking charge is to make mum the boss, take control back from your child.

Step 2 - lets get back to basics, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Focus on these.

Step 3 - when your child is successful with these meals, add in morning and afternoon tea.  Yes they will be hungry, hunger is your ally.  Success is eating most of the meal.

Be sure to set a time limit – 30 mins is reasonable, after that dinner is finished and nothing, yes absolutely nothing until the next meal.

Your aim is for 3 meals successfully, this includes appropriate behaviour before you add in snacks.  As a parent you need to feel in control of the meal for it to be successful.

Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

© Copyright 2012. No reprinting or publishing without permission from writer. For permission or further information contact

5 Responses to Dealing with Fussy Eaters

  1. chris mitchell says:

    hi, at what age can i follow the above steps. my 16 month old has stopped suddenly all veges and meat ( dinner) and will ony eat dry biscuits. and fruit. i am anxious that at this age she needs to be eating something. she will eat fruit and yogurt which i always gave as second course but not touch dinner. thanks for your reply –

    • You can certainly use this for your daughter at 16 months of age, it is likely that she is waiting for her preferred second course. You set the menu, you have the knowledge and it is her choice if she eats or not. In reality this only takes a couple/few days although i have seen the occassional child being determined to be the boss of mealtime for about 5 days or so. All the best!

  2. Thank you, we are always uploading new articles for parents.

  3. Thank You, we aim to provide useful and factual articles for parents based on my years of experience working with parents, children and babies.

  4. Hey there! I’ve been reading your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!

Leave a Reply