Do you say any of these words?

Kids can SERIOUSLY frustrate us. Especially when they don’t eat. Have you said any of the below words out of frustration?

  • Please mom eat your plate!! It took me all day to make!
  • Your friend eats all his food and you don’t!
  • How will you be strong and beautiful if you don’t eat?
  • Your daughter is driving me crazy! She won’t eat.
  • My son never eats! He doesn’t eat! I tried everything
  • If you don’t want to eat, I’ll put your pasta
  • I will give you an iPad so you can eat.

 I have heard them a lot as a child and I have had my fair share of saying things like this. 

Mirna El Sabbagh: Do you say any of these words?

Getting kids to eat through fear, shame, comparison is really not effective in the long term. In fact, it can create serious problems with eating. Not only that, but it can create serious problems in life, not just eating. In addition, it can have the opposite effect! Kids may become picky on purpose and identify with this behavior.

What to avoid when kids don't eat:

  1. Begging them to eat
  2. Nagging them to eat
  3. Comparing them to their cousins or friends or anyone
  4. Bribing them to eat with toys or iPad
  5. Giving them the junk foods they want every time
  6. Making them feel afraid of not eating
  7. Yelling at them to eat
  8. Labelling them as picky eating in front of them
  9. Talking about their eating to others.
  10. Making a whole party and fuss about them eating.
Mirna El Sabbagh: Do you say any of these words?

What is the best thing to do instead?

Comparing and shaming and guilt tripping kids into good behavior can only cause trouble. It is best we do the following:

  1. Encourage kids to eat using positive words or adopting a neutral reaction.
  2. Focus on the positive thing they did not the negative such as eating half the plate.
  3. Tell them about the positive outcomes of eating and not the negative. Eating broccoli makes you strong instead of not eating will make you sick.
  4. Allow them to develop a relationship with food irrelevant to you. It is important that kids know that they should eat for themselves and not as a way to please you
  5. Create boundaries over food. For example, you will not make them any special foods. They can eat what the rest of the family is eating, or skip a meal.


I hope this was helpful!

To watch the full video, click on this link.


Mirna Sabbagh, an adult and child dietitian, nutritionist, and lactation consultant. She also has several digital courses: Pregnancy Nutrition Coursebreastfeeding course starting solids 6-12 months course, and also the Feed with Confidence course that you can sign up for from the comfort of your home.

The courses are pre-recorded. As soon as you make the course purchase, you will receive a link to watch the course from your phone or laptop.

You can also e-mail Mirna for questions at

Mirna is no longer doing consultations. Her online courses cover 95% of parents' common concerns.