How picky eating affects parents
Extreme picky eating in children obviously has an effect on the physical and mental health of the child involved, but it can have wider consequences too. Wanting to feed and nourish your child is one of the most basic desires for parents, and when that doesn’t work out as expected parents can have feelings of shame, guilt, and wondering how they are getting it wrong. Even though it has been shown that 70% of feeding issues can be genetic, it is still easy to blame yourself as a parent, especially when you seem to see other kids eating ‘normally’. This can be a very isolating experience. Social media groups such as our Parenting picky eaters support group can help to know that you are not alone, along with research which shows that anywhere between 20 and 50% of children between 2 and 6 years old can be classed as ‘picky eaters’.
In an anonymous survey ran by Learn Play Eat in October 2018 we saw that 75% of the 35 respondents said they were a 7 or higher in a range from 0 to 10 with 10 being extremely stressed because of their child’s eating. 85% said they changed plans or avoided situations because of it, 80% said they have felt depressed and 66% said they felt they don’t have access to adequate professional support. Picky eating is still not well understood by the community, and 91% of our survey respondents said they felt judged for their child’s eating.
These are all difficult feelings to be constantly dealing with on top of all the demands of regular parenthood, work and life in general. You may be able to help your child with extreme picky eating by following the approaches given on our website and app, but please also remember to get help for yourself if needed too! Chat to others with similar problems on social media, approach a supportive GP, or here in Australia we are lucky to have the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders which provides a helpline for parents and carers to use if they need to talk to someone and are concerned for a loved one who may have an eating disorder including ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder – previously known as selective eating disorder or extreme picky eating).