As your little one starts to explore the world of solid foods, he will learn to differentiate the tastes of different food items. This is where the struggle of a parent begins. Making sure your child gets all the required nutrients despite being a picky eater can be very frustrating.
At times this frustration makes parents go overboard and they end up pressurizing their children to eat. Even though done with good intentions, force-feeding is never a good idea when it comes to the developing years of your child.
What is Force Feeding?
Force-feeding is basically forcing your child to finish the entire serving of food against his or her will. When happy meal-times turn into a war between parents and children with a plate full of healthy foods in between, parents generally end up using force-feeding as the ultimate strike. Even though it seems harmless, it never leads to a “win-win” situation and can do more harm than good to your child.
Instead of force-feeding your child to eat a particular food, try to prepare different variants of dishes including that food along with the food groups your child enjoys eating.
How do parents force-feed?
Here are a few common ways parents tend to force-feed their children –
- Deciding on your own what, when and how much your child should eat.
- Nagging, scolding or threatening your child to finish his plate.
- Bribing or blackmailing your child to finish his food and rewarding him later.
- Punishing your children if they don’t eat.
- Comparing your child with siblings or other children to make them feel shame or competitiveness.
- Literally forcing food into your child’s mouth and making him swallow.
- Ignoring his pleas to eat less and using fear to force him to eat.
To Read More: How to stop food tantrums in babies and toddlers?
Force-feeding seems to get the work done for the time being and may give you the “mission accomplished” feeling too. However, it actually can have harmful effects on your child. Let’s discuss 7 negative effects of force-feeding that are usually seen among children:
7 Negative Effects of Forcing your Toddler to Eat
#1. Destruction of your child’s natural appetite
The natural desire to eat is known as one’s appetite. Constant nagging and force-feeding during meal-time will make your child lose interest over food and disrupt your child’s natural appetite. Forcing your child too much may lead to him puking out everything and hate even the idea of eating.
#2. Strong aversion towards food
Studies have shown that kids who are force-fed often end up developing strong aversion towards food. The negativity associated with food makes them traumatized and nauseous. This aversion sticks around even when they grow up as these foods continue to subconsciously remind them of the panic and bad memories of childhood.
#3. Stressful meal-times
It is in human nature to avoid anything that causes stress or discomfort. The only way a child will accept something is if they enjoy it while doing it. Forcefully feeding your child healthy foods on his plate can leave him with a stressful and unpleasant experience. Hence instinctively, he will only learn to hate meal-times and continue to struggle with food.
#4. Inclination towards to sugary or junk foods
Force-fed children often learns to develop unhealthy food habits. This happens because a force-fed child never learns when to stop eating as they get accustomed to overeating during those force-feeding sessions. Also, due to their hatred towards healthy foods, they get attracted more towards sugary or junk foods.
To Read More: Why should you never yell at your kids?
#5. Lose control over their eating habits
As parents, your ultimate focus should be on making your child less dependent on you and learn to do everything by themselves. But, the more you take control and force feed your child, the less control he will end up having over his own eating habits. This will hamper his life and food habits even as he grows up.
#6. Development of eating disorders
Since force-fed children never learn how much food is required by their bodies, they tend to overeat or undereat even when they grow up. This loss of control over eating habits can lead to serious eating disorders such as obesity, anorexia, bulimia, etc.
#7. Disrupted eating pattern
Every human body has a different food capacity and metabolism rate. The amount you decide to give your child may be much more than his capacity to digest. If you force-feed him to finish the entire serving even after he tells you that he is full, you are feeding him in excess amount. He will need more time to digest that portion which is why he won’t be hungry by the time you serve his next meal. As the cycle continues, your child’s natural digestive pattern will end up getting disrupted.
To Read More: 9 Useful Tips To Handle Fussy Eating In Children
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