Tips for Avoiding Power Struggles over Food for Parents/Caregivers

A child with CSID may have a very different diet than his or her peers. This could lead to behavior issues regarding dietary compliance. Parents and caregivers should try to minimize power struggles over food. Below are some tips:

 

  1. Give a child with CSID as many choices as possible. Try to offer two food alternatives so that the child can choose. Some parents have a devoted shelf in their pantry or refrigerator where their child can pick whatever they want from predetermined options.
  2. Don’t reward behavior with food. This can be difficult since modern society rewards with food. Instead of offering a “treat” for good behavior or good grades, offer a fun family activity such as a trip to a park, or for older children, a gift card to download music on their MP3 player.
  3. Don’t show anger or frustration over food. As a parent/caregiver, there will be times when you are frustrated with your child’s diet or food choices. If possible, try not to express that frustration for your child to observe.
  4. Regularly involve your child in food planning or preparation. Children are more likely to be excited about their food when they have some investment in the process.
  5. Don’t force feed. Ultimately, you cannot make a child eat even though it is important to ensure he/she is getting proper nutrition. Insisting a child eat against his/her will can cause additional power struggles.
  6. Model positive eating habits for your child. As a parent/caregiver, this may involve altering the foods you consume in front of your child with CSID.
  7. Keep introducing new foods. Research shows that kids may need to see a new food 5 or 6 times before they accept it.
  8. Do not talk about financial implications of your child’s special diet. A CSID diet can be expensive, but do not pass the burden of guilt to your child by discussing this in front of your child. Explore options for reducing the cost of foods required for a CSID diet, such as buying foods in bulk or using coupons.
  9. Try to make mealtimes positive experiences. Whether it is family games, religious observances, or just discussing each family members’ day, try to build a positive tone at the table.
  10. For older children, sometimes natural consequences are the best way to learn. In other words, sometimes a child may insist on eating something he/she should not. Being uncomfortable or spending a significant amount of time in the bathroom may be ample motivation for your child to follow their diet more regularly in the future.