Every mother feels proud and fulfilled when their children eat well and are looking robust among other kids. A well-nourished child is active and less likely to fall sick. Feeding a child should be a fun time for both mother and child but can be very exhausting for the mother when a child refuses to take food despite promises of a reward and threats of punishment. Finally you are tempted to shove the food down the child’s throat and be done with it! This is a common practice among mothers in Nigeria with adverse consequences unknown to them.
There are several ways parents can be controlling when it comes to making a child eat. It ranges from physically forcing the food into the child’s mouth to nagging or scolding them.
Eating is a natural instinct and just like other animals, children know when to eat as well as how much to eat.
Some Reasons Why Children Refuse Food
A child does not just refuse to eat without a reason. Identifying those reasons is what every mother should try to investigate rather than resorting to forceful feeding. Below are some of the reasons why children refuse to eat;
1. Excess sweets and junk foods which kill the appetite
2. Lack of exercise especially in this age of technological advancement that has led to inactivity and addictions to television, games and internet
3. Overfeeding during a previous meal.
4. Feeling of discomfort and sickness which the child may not be able to express depending on age e.g tonsillitis and constipation
5. It could just be a phase that will pass as the child grows.
Dangers Of Force Feeding
There are several reasons why this practice should be discouraged. Below are some adverse consequences to consider the next time you are tempted to force feed your child.
1. Development of feeding aversions which is relating an experience/activity with stress
2. Development of eating disorders e.g. obesity, anorexia, and bulimia
3. Suffocation; Sometimes the technique involves blocking the airway while passing food through the mouth thereby putting the child at risk of suffocation
4. Pneumonia; some fragments of the food may be aspirated into the lungs triggering inflammation because the food substance is seen as a foreign object in the lungs.
5. Physical injury to the child e.g cuts to the lips, bruises and so on
How To Encourage Good Eating Habit In Children
Rather than make eating an activity that your child dreads, here are some ways to make mealtime fun time for him/her
1. Let your child decide what he/she wants to eat
2. Let your child decide the quantity that he/she wants
3. Do not compare your child with another
4. Be a good role model , eat healthy and eat with them .
5. Turn off the Television and other forms of distraction at meal time
6. Encourage exercise
However, if your child continues to refuse food in spite of all efforts to encourage eating, it is advisable to see a pediatrician as there may be other underlying factors causing his/her refusal to eat.
Feeding aversion. (2013,September 11). http://www.babycareadvice.com/article/detail/Feeding_Aversion
Chiomah, M. (2015,June 4).Force-feeding:4 health hazards to your baby. http://motherhoodinstyle.net/2015/06/04/force-feeding-4-health-hazards-to-your-baby/
Negative effects of forcing your kids to eat (1-3). (n.d). http://www.beingtheparent.com/negative-effects-of-forcing-your-kids-to-eat-1-3-years/