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The art of negotiating with a fussy eater

The art of negotiating with a fussy eater

So my son (4) generally is a good eater, however all he asks for these days is sugar, sugar, sugar! He knows what foods have sugar in them too – they’re the ones that taste nice of course.

Most day’s it’s a constant battle to eat lunch. Normally to go to in our house is a simple sandwich. This was not a simple day by any means. On this day I got a. “No sandwich mum!”

Welcome to fussy eater day.


He asked for grapes – I thought, it’s healthy, ok I’ll give him some grapes. He then decided to help himself to a fruit stick….full of sugar, but an easy snack. So I let this one go.

Then he asked me for custard – I said, “we really need to have some lunch”. The reply? I’ll have my custard, then I’ll have some lunch”. This is where it gets really tricky for us mums I think. How far do you push? How tired are you today? Do you let it slide, or be strict?

Some days I do let things go for my own sanity, and with me working from home some days, I really need to get some work done and need them to settle down. But I am also trying to be conscious of the sugar in so many packaged foods.

The good food vs. easy snack option


So, I said ok to the custard – he won. Of course, he wanted more custard! So then the negotiations started…

My answer was, “Yes you can have some more custard, but you need to decide what you what to have for lunch first”. He asked for a ‘bikkie’ for lunch…..hmm. Trying to trick me yet again. These kids are getting so clever with age. Then he acts silly, laughing and trying to be cute to divert my attention and give in. This is a regular tactic in my house.

My fussy eater end result


I made him a sandwich, put it on a plate with a biscuit. We talked and made a deal – he was allowed to have the biscuit,  BUT, he had to eat what was on his plate in a certain order. Sandwich first, biscuit second.

I find if I give my son options, he is so much happier than me just saying no. If he can SEE and VISUALISE the thing he wants on the plate, but we talk and make a deal about eating the healthy item first, and the yummy item is the reward. It’s like a “treasure” reward – they love pirates, so we often relate treasure to food. We do things like digging for grapes which are the “treasure” in the yoghurt. It makes it fun for them, a bit of a game, and the word “treasure” appeals to them and gets them excited.

I’m no expert but I try to find the best way to negotiate so they feel like they are winning, but I still have an element of control. I hope you mums can give some of these tactics a try, and see how you go. Good luck!

…written by a local HP mum

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