Food Refusal Behavior: Powlin Manuel MD, MBA, MS (Psychology)

Posted at 3:33 pm on 01/21/2015 by Powlin V. Manuel
During my 36 years of practice, I find one phenomenon on the rise – the food worries about the food refusal by infants and children. The irony is that this happens at a time when the leaders of our cities, states and the country are at the same time working hard at reducing obesity – which has grown in an epidemic proportion.

About 25-40% of normal children have some type of feeding disorder that requires medical intervention (Sondheimer, J.M., 2013). It is important to understand that the abnormal feeding practices and excessive interest or emotions on feeding expressed by the caretakers, parents, grandparents, etc. contribute to the continuation of the problem.

How to deal with food refusal behavior?


The following parenting tips have been helpful:

  • Avoid unnecessary and even harmful feeding practices
  • Avoid weighing the child frequently,
  • avoid excessive interest and emotional attachment to your child’s feeding such as clapping when the child swallows the food,  pretend crying and  when the child refuses to swallow.
  • Do not get angry when the child refuses to eat.
  • Avoid reinforcing bad behavior by offering rewards to eat.
  • Provide smaller servings of food.
  • Avoid insisting on eating food which the child does not like to eat.
  • Offer chance to participate in food choice.

Every child is born with a mechanism to control the environment, in this case  to control parents.  Refusing  to eat could be one tool to control parents.   . The child will be fine if they are left alone to eat at their own desire, as every child is programmed to grow and survive.

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