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I already have next to no patience with kids, so they will eat what I make or go hungry. Picky kids gross me out.I don't mind if it's once specific thing they don't like, I would just leave that off their plate if I wanted it. In my opinion, kids still need to develop their palates and have no right to decide if they really don't like something.I wasn't really picky but I wasn't a big eater when I was a kid.
I think a lot has to do with how and when you introduce solid foods into the diet of a baby. Foods should be introduced slowly, one at a time. I think a mistake new parents make is introducing foods to toddlers that are sweet in nature, even if healthy (fruits).Neither of my kids were particularly picky, but they definitely had their preferences. If dinner one night was son's favorite meat, but daughter did not like it, I made sure to include a side she did like. They ate what was served and there were no changes or substitutions. As I told my kids often, "This isn't Denny's". Much like other posters, I also weaned the kids in slowly. Sauces began on the side and were slowly integrated. The concept of casseroles began very slowly, with perhaps only two or three ingredients to start. Daughter learned to eat just about anything as long as she could drown it in ketchup! I made sure that every meal had at least one fruit and one vegetable.I am not a fan AT ALL of insisting plates be finished. I am also not a fan of forcing children to go beyond tasting a new food. Mealtime should be the most important and pleasant family function. It is not the time to demonstrate control, power, or authority.
My aunt had a method for dealing with my pickiness at the dinner table when we'd visit. I had to take a "no thank you" portion (about 2 tablespoon fulls) of the offending item and eat it. DH occasionally uses the "No thank you" rule on me, unless I tell him that the smell of the item makes me feel ill- he won't force it, but he does encourage me to broaden my horizons. With him, I have.
Genetics plays a big part in what foods we like and what foods we don't. However, some of our taste preferences do change as we get older, so I think it is really important to not rule out a food item just because you tried it once. (LINK) I had to do a lot of cooking for my younger sisters when I was in high school, and it was incredible how many vegetables I could hide in things like meatloaf and spaghetti sauce.
I agree with the school of thought that kids will eat a broader range of foods if they are exposed to them, and not given the "short order cook" option. This has def been my experience with kids I've helped raise, and from what I've seen in friend's families.
To the control point, funny story- When I was about 8 or 9, my aunt and uncle brought me to visit friends of theirs who had two daughters around my age. I had spent time with them previously but not frequently. Now I was not a picky eater but hated, HATED mac & chees, especially the crap in a box with orange cheese. Guess what was being served? I simply said no thank you. Didn't ask for or expect anything else, just figured I'd wait until I got home to eat. These people flipped their lids! Why my Aunt and Uncle tolerated this is beyond me, although they don't have kids of their own and are a little kooky, generally. So this grown man that I barely knew was really angry & INSISTING that I eat it and would have to stay at the table until I did. Even at that young age, I remember thinking, who does this guy think he is?? So I quietly sat there until it was time to go home. You should've seen the looks he gave me as we were leaving and the disgusting food was left untouched on his table.