When my son hit about three years old he started becoming really picky. He is already small for his age so I gave into him and this made the situation way worse. By the time he hit three and a half, dinner time was a battle and I was on the loosing end. I could not take it any more so that is when I started making some very simple changes that made our whole family a lot easier.
1. I stopped asking him what he wanted to eat at snack time. While I want him to feel like he does have some choices I did not want to leave it open that much because he would always ask for something sugary. Now I give him two choices. While he was not very happy about this at first it did not take long for him to adjust. This small steps did wonders in changing his behavior. I was truly shocked by the change it made.
2. Do not let your kids fill up on juice or milk. I was letting my son have as much milk as he asked for. This was drastically affecting his appetite and come time for dinner he would not eat. Now I let him have a glass of milk with his breakfast, juice with his snack, and then milk with lunch and dinner. If he tells me he is thirsty in-between I get him a glass of water. When I first started doing this he was not a happy child, he did not want a glass of water and would throw a fit. I simply got the water, put it on the table for him and told him when he got thirsty enough he would drink it, he was not getting anything else. It only took a couple days and the fits stopped and he was eating better.
3. Do not make something different. I did this more then once, I was concerned about him eating because he is already rather small for his age. In doing this I was making the situation way worse. It got to the point that he would refuse to eat anything I made unless it was the meal he has predetermined he wanted. I would make something and he would tell me, “ I do not want that, make me something else” That attitude is what made me say no more. I make one meal, if he refuses to eat then he does not get anything else. The first time I did this he sat at the table for about twenty minutes, refusing to eat what I made. I told him he did not have to eat it but if he did not eat then he got nothing else the rest of the night. After everyone else was done and I still would not make him something else, he ate what I had made to begin with.
4. If there is a food that you do not like, avoid voicing your dislike in front of your child. My husband dislikes a lot of food and I noticed that anything Alexzander heard daddy did not like, he suddenly did not like either. To stop it I put the food on both their plates and my husband took at least a bit to show Alexzander he needed to at least try it.
5. Stop the distractions. Make your child sit at a table, away from toys and television. We have a small table set in the living room for the kids and for lunches I was letting them sit in the living room and watch a cartoon while they ate but they would not eat well. They wanted to get up and play or they were to distracted by the television. Now we all go out to the kitchen and eat. Not only does this give us a nice and calm eating time but it also made them eat a lot more.