Down the hatch: 7 sure-fire strategies to encourage your child to eat new foods and take their supplements (part 2)

By Alive & Well

Sean Fitzgerald, Autism InternationalGuest post from Sean Fitzgerald, Autism International


2. Timing

In part 1, I talked about the role your attitude plays when it comes to offering your child something new.

But timing matters too.

via weheartit.comFor the vast majority of families I’ve worked with, the best time to try something new is when their child is giving them a ‘green light’ for interaction.

A green light means he’s paying attention to you, that he’s interested in what you’re doing. He might be looking at you, communicating with you in some way (verbally or non-verbally) or reaching out to take you by the hand.

Why then? Because it means that …

  • He becomes an active participant in what you’re offering – and the more he does that, the less support and insistence he’ll need from you next time
  • Each time he participates and says yes, he’s building his willingness, flexibility and independence
  • You’re making the most of an opportunity to interact with your child.

How? By making sure you’re not in a hurry

There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Sometimes (surprise surprise) he’s going to say no – and if he does, that’s OK. Take a few breaths, leave it for a few minutes or a half an hour, then come back to it (we’ll talk more about why and how to do this in part 4). It might take longer to get the job done, but you’ll get there eventually and you won’t get drawn into a struggle that could undermine your relationship.
  2. It takes the pressure down – consider rush hour: people get stressed out and aggressive when the clock is running down towards a deadline. If you’re trying to give him his supplement, get his shoes on and get him out the door at the same time, it’s bound to get fraught. And he’ll pick up your energy if you’re stressed.

Of course, there are exceptions to every guideline. On rare occasions, I have met families who feel it works best for their child to give him his supplement quickly and without fuss when he’s engaged in something else or absorbed in his own world.

But for most children, the benefits of encouraging new things when they’re engaged – and you’re not in a hurry – far outweigh the obstacles.

The complete ‘Down the Hatch’ series: