21/12/2009 08:59 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne - Toddler's Tantrums Every Meal Time

What's your biggest problem when it comes to your kids? Our life coach Joanne Mallon is here to help. Send your questions to us via this anonymous form, and watch out for your answers appearing here.

Brenda asks:

My son is two-and-a-half years old. He would eat anything when he was younger, so why does he heave when he looks at any food that is placed in front of him now? He has tantrums every meal time. He always says 'mmmm nice' and gives me the food in hand, but when we cook it he always refuses it. At the moment all he eats is sausages, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and chips from McDonald's. He is a big boy at 3ft 5ins tall, and slim built, but he is wearing the clothes of a four-to-five year old. He will only drink his bottle of milk before going to bed and has fruit juice daily (loads of it). Please can you help us?

Here's the life coach's reply:Dear Brenda

Thank you for writing in. It's really stressful to have your child is kicking off at every meal. Many parents have written to me about this, and as the parent of an ultra-fussy child I do sympathise a lot. It's tough.

But the solution is not to give in to the only things that you think he will eat. What concerns me is that the food you describe is all very processed and high in salt and fat. Large quantities of fruit juice will also contain a lot of sugar. Whilst toddlers should not have a low fat diet, and the occasional McDonald's meal is OK, these high quantities of processed foods will not be doing him any good at all. You say that this is all he will eat, but he's not driving to the supermarket and buying it himself, is he? You want him to stop eating this stuff then stop buying it.

Ensure that the food he does eat is the best nutritional quality you can get. There is a lot of variety in sausages, so get the best you can. Here are some previous articles which will give you ideas to try and improve meal times:

Also ask your local library for the books My Child Won't Eat and Dealing With Difficult Eaters I found that my child's behaviour at meal times improved dramatically when I stopped engaging with tantrums. I stopped trying to persuade him to eat and simply took the plate away if it was refused – at this point he always asked for it back because he realised that there was no other option. Be firm but calm, follow some of the tips I've linked to, and things will improve.

Best wishes


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