Any parent of a toddler knows that mealtimes can be a minefield.
But in this week’s Scrubbing Up health column, child health specialist Su Laurent says some are attributing their offspring’s dietary foibles to an eating disorder, rather than bad behaviour.
I spend a significant amount of time seeing healthy young children whose parents are convinced that their child has an eating disorder.
Some parents think that their baby has an inability to swallow solids, others think that their child will fade away unless they are offered the few foods which they like and some parents say that their child eats nothing at all, despite the fact that they are consuming a packet of “Wotsits” in front of me!
All three situations are examples of how powerful a weapon food is and how quickly children can gain the upper hand over their parents…
…The difficulty I face is that parents often have a fixed idea that their child has a disorder and it can be very hard to convince them that, on the contrary, their child is very powerful and is getting away with eating exactly what they want!
It’s often easier for a doting parent to believe that a child has a medical problem than a behavioural one…One mother told me with pride that since the last time I saw her seven-year-old in clinic he’d tried a new food: he was now happy to eat KFC chips in addition to McDonald’s chips.
The consequences of living in a 1st world nation? I have seen so many friends fight with their kids over food nearly every night. One friend now serves dinner Ã¡ la carte. It’s insane, she’ll make 4 meals each night. There’s only a couple of food items that I’ll ‘substitute’ because someone absolutely hates it, and it’s no extra work. When we have steak, I usually throw a lamb chop on for myself instead. Food should never be allowed to become a point of contention and the parent absolutely must have all the power.