It is always best that we view “feeding” as a “line of development,” as the scholar Anna Freud described. Anna Freud’s line went from feeding to rational eating as a specific developmental progression.
How do we learn rational, intuitive eating unless our children are able to explore foods and help themselves? The more a young child can select on his/her own meal portions, the more responsibility is taken in making independent food choices. Try not to pile food on your child’s plate and see what happens when the child begins to take responsibility for food at mealtime – make this a two-week experiment.
Parents, when you begin independent choice eating, set down a simple rule – one serving spoon (tablespoon) size helping from each serving platter/bowl at first and then seconds of any food are encouraged. Your child is guided gently to finish his/her plate commitment as it was set up as child-driven in selection.
And please, no promises of desserts when a plate is finished; there is too much emphasis on sweets as a reward thus removing the interest from the regular food pyramid dishes at meals. Just give a dessert naturally, family style, as a matter of fact – not as a bribe or a negotiation.