My father made me clean my plate as I was growing up. Should I insist that my children do the same?
Never force a child to eat, nor withhold food as punishment. Serve children small portions of nourishing food, then trust them to decide when the have had enough to eat. Forcing children to eat or encouraging them to eat “just one more bite” interferes with their ability to regulate how much they eat. Insisting that children clean their plates can lead to obesity and will set up a power struggle.
Review Making Mealtime Pleasant with Young Children for more information.
Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D.,
Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri
Last update: Monday, February 09, 2009