I normally steer well clear of self-help books, but some time ago, I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. Aside from the joys of owning my very own labeller, one of the key things I got from this book is the notion of the ‘next action’. It’s a brilliantly simple concept whereby you define the next action for any given task. Then you do it. It’s that simple. This enables you to begin seemingly overwhelming challenges because even the most daunting of projects has a ‘next action’ that in itself may not be daunting at all.
If you have decided that you want to improve mealtimes in your house, here’s your next action: Get your child’s weight and growth checked by a health professional. Here in the UK, this will mean a trip to see your health visitor. In the US, a visit to your pediatrician.
Interestingly, many parents of picky eaters are worried about their child’s weight and growth but research has shown that the majority of picky eaters are of a healthy weight and height for their age. If you are worried about your child’s health this will have some major knock-on effects:
Your anxiety will contribute to the problem – parental anxiety is a huge factor in picky eating and trying to hide it is not enough; you need to have genuinely worked through it.
You will not be able to tolerate your child rejecting food – allowing them to leave what they want to leave is an integral part of tackling picky eating. How can you do this if you are concerned about their health?
Finally, in a minority of cases, there may be a problem with your child’s weight and growth and this calls for specialist professional support. It’s vital that you rule out more complex causes for food refusal such as problems with chewing and swallowing or sensory processing issues. If your child is underweight or is not growing as predicted, this can be an important indicator that there are underlying problems that need addressing.
Worrying is natural
Feeling anxious about your child’s health is part and parcel of being a parent. There are times though, when worrying gets in the way of making things better. Getting your child’s weight and growth checked by a health professional is a really important step to take if you are serious about examining what’s going on with your child’s eating and making a change.