If you think about it, what other behavior do your teach your child that has you believing that unless it is easy, fun and pleasurable, YOU are doing a bad job as a parent? Your child doesn't clean up his room; go to bed on time; go to school or study; take a bath; share with others; exercise and go outside because it feels good to them. They do it because we tell them too; because we know that it is good for them.
Feeding our children falls into the same category as the behaviors listed above. It is our job as a parent to teach our children how to master these and other skills until our children can do them by themselves with ease. They may not always make the best choices when we are not around but by the time they leave our nest they will know the difference between right and wrong; good and bad; healthy and unhealthy, even if it kills us (It won't, I promise).
Here is the truth about feeding children:
1. Feeding children is difficult at times, really difficult, especially around the independent toddler years and the tween/teen rebellion period. Make sure you give yourself the time and support you need during these times.
2. Some children are easier to coach at the table than others. They don't leave their personalities at the door before they sit down to eat so don't expect that feeding one child will be anything like feeding your other child.
3. It takes years of instruction, encouragement and mirroring healthy behaviors before your child will be ready to take over making the majority of his/her "food choices". As a parent, it is our job to hand over little bits of responsibility to our child when they demonstrate that they can make healthy choices.
4. As much as you try to make food as tasty as possible, it really isn't possible or wise to only feed your child their absolute favorites. Why? Because then you are teaching them that they only have to eat food that is super tasty and this is not true or healthy. Meals are about nourishment first and pleasure second.
5. Children need to understand that food can taste awesome to awful. On a 10 point scale, with 0 being "the yuckiest" and 10 "the tastiest", they are expected to eat those foods that fall in the 3 to 10 realm. In reality many veggies fall in that range. "You don't need to like it, but it likes you" is my favorite go-to phrase to get kids to eat their veggies.
From a child's perspective going to bed on time, cleaning up their room, having to go to school, fdo their homework and having to eat food that is not their favorite (veggies) is not fair. Nope, it is not fair, it just is, because our job is to make sure they grow up healthy, clean, wise and strong.