Almost all of us have all been there or we will be. And if you haven't... well consider yourself lucky or be warned you're luck may run out.
Picky eaters can make mealtime miserable. You make a beautiful meal and your toddler decides she won't eat anything green. Or your son decides he hates mashed potatoes. Or your daughter will only eat chicken nuggets.
Food fights are normal but that doesn't make them any less frustrating. My children are especially odd when it comes to meal time. My son loves ketchup but he won't go near a tomato or tomato sauce. My oldest girl won't touch beans but adores sushi. My youngest is the real challenge. She doesn't like veggies, doesn't like noodles, doesn't like sauces, rice or potatoes or bread.
It's not easy but there are a few things you can do to make dinner not become a food fight.
1. Be reasonable. If you allow them to snack during the day they won't be as hungry at meal time. Also if you pile their plate too full it will seem overwhelming to them and not only will they not want to eat but they will also not be able to eat. Don't allow snacks around meal time and give your child reasonable servings. They can always ask for more but you don't want to have to negotiate giving them less once they are served.
2. Be honest. If they ask what something is tell them. If they think you will trick them they will learn to distrust what you offer them.
3. Be patient. When you introduce a new food it will often take a few tries for a child to like it.
4. Be accommodating. It's hard to force a child to eat. In my house our compromise is you have to try it. If you truly don't like it you don't have to eat it. But out of 3 things on the plate you must eat all of 2. This gives your child a sense of control which is important to child and encourages them to try things.
5. Be considerate. Think about it this way... if you don't like a certain food... will you order it? So if your child doesn't like a certain food why force them to eat it? We have a forbidden list in my house. My son doesn't have to eat tomatoes, my daughter doesn't have to eat beans and my littlest changes her banned item each week. This week it's cheese. It's only fair since I will not eat carrots. Sure sometimes it means that someone has to have an extra veggie or sauce made or must drink milk with dinner instead of juice but it shows your kids you understand them and are willing to work with them.
6. Be fun! Puree carrots in your spaghetti. Make a face on the pancakes. When you make eating and trying new foods fun, kids are more likely to give them a shot. And get your kids involved. They can help with shopping and with preparing meals. My youngest wouldn't touch a boiled egg until we sang Humpty Dumpty and cracked and peeled them together. Now she loves them. Getting your kids involved makes them feel proud and a part of meal time and that means they will eat!
And if none of the above works... keep trying. And if you feel your child is not getting the nutrition they need you should speak to your pediatrician. Some kids just are naturally picky. What this means is you have done a great job of raising an independent child who has developed his own tastes. Sure that strong will means a food fight now but stay calm, be steady and keep trying. (And when dinner is done and kids are in bed treat yourself to chocolate. You earned it.)