I remember a situation when I saw a child being literally tortured. The child was stuck between the table and the chair, his head barely visible over the huge plate whose contents had to be eaten. His mother was categorical that the child would not leave the table until all the spaghetti had been eaten.

The child looked tormented and guilty. The mother forced her child to chew and swallow. The child became resigned to the conclusion that it was better to remain at the table indefinitely, since it was clearly the lesser evil.

All children are born with a good appetite. A child’s reluctance to eat is the result of an erroneous approach by adults. Forced feeding can cause the child to develop an aversion to food.

Sometimes children refuse to eat certain foods which their body find it hard to process or that contain substances they don’t like. They might even be healthy foods. Our attitudes to which foods are healthy are constantly changing. Food which your child eats unwillingly will not be well absorbed, because a lack of appetite means a lack of enzymes.  We should respect the signals of the body and also teach our children to do so.

The most effective approach towards children with a bad appetite is to leave them in peace, but also to provide them with access to a wide range of healthy and tasty food. Don’t focus on their eating, and don’t be too anxious about it.

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