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Avoid disciplining behavior

Reinforce table manners with your behavior. Lead by example.

Focus your child on eating, but talk about other things at the table as well. Conversation defuses the attention away from the food. Tell your child what foods she's eating, but don't talk about food after that. Avoid comments such as "Look, mommy likes it," or "Don't you want to be strong like daddy?" These comments only add to the stress of the situation and don't help the picky eater.

Remove the plate if your child simply refuses to eat, but don't allow him to leave the table until everyone else is finished, and don't give him a snack within the next hour. Keep the same meal and snack schedule whether or not your toddler eats. Children may manipulate dinner situations if you allow them to skip meals but eat a snack afterward.

Never, ever bribe your child to eat one food based on a reward for another food (such as something sweet). This reward pattern begins a lifelong struggle with sweets, which can lead to weight and health problems.

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