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Children Who Refuse to Eat

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info

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Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest revision: 05 Aug 2008.
What should I do with a child, actually a toddler, which won't eat?


A patient told a therapist that her two year old daughter refused to eat. The mother was desperate and afraid that the daughter would starve to death. Their relationship became impossible; the mother lost all control and shook the daughter because of her refusal to eat. The mother said that she prepared three good meals a day; Breakfast lunch and dinner, all without avail.

The answer from the therapist was: It may be that your daughter's hunger does not coincide with the family's mealtimes. I suggest that you put small attractive and nutritious plates of food in her room. Then take little notice, and let her discover her hunger and eat when she wants to.

Don't continue a power struggle with her, because she will win and use her refusal as a weapon against you.

To eat or not to eat must be between her hunger and the food. She won't starve to death, and as long as food is there she will eat when she wants to.

You needn't be perfect; just do your best. Good luck!

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