Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldnt?

Forcing children to eat is one of the issues that many parents are concerned about. Children are not inherently aware of the importance of eating. That is why some people think that it is advisable to force children in eating activities. The goal is for children to be provided with all the nutrients their parents want. Is that action right or wrong? Is there science or not? The following article will help parents better understand this issue.


1.  How to force a child to eat  ?

Parents often think that they have a lot of experience in eating. As for young children, they are still not aware of how to eat properly. Therefore, children are often picky eaters and anorexic.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Forcing children to eat is an unscientific act

In the hope that their children will be provided with adequate nutrients, many parents force their children to eat. Forms of coercion can be:

  • Confine children within the framework of eating.
  • Forcing children to eat foods prepared by their parents.
  • Do not allow children to freely choose their favorite foods.
  • Force children to eat with the family, eat on time.
  • Set a daily, weekly menu and make your child eat it according to those menus.
  • Accompanied by scolding, beating, threatening, forcing, whipping, ...

>> Nutrition for 1-year-old children is one of the child care content that parents need to pay attention to. A suitable diet will help children develop well, both physically and intellectually.

2.  What are the consequences of forcing children  to eat?

Until now, there have been many cases of parents forcing children to eat according to the wishes of adults. Even though the child doesn't like it, cries and resists. However, parents do not know that forcing children like that will lead to the following consequences:

2.1. Children become more and more anorexic

An objective survey of over 300 families in Canada of 7 to 9 year olds. The results show that the more parents force their children to eat, the more likely they are to have eating problems such as anorexia and anorexia. The reason is to force the child to eat foods he does not like. That makes them lose the ability to manage their own eating habits. As a result, children eat very little, or eat too much.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Children who are forced to eat will become anorexic

According to a survey on the nutritional status of children in Southeast Asia, 50% of Vietnamese children lack essential nutrients. This is a warning number to the excessive force of eating by parents in our country today.

2.2. Mentally affected children

If forced to eat, the child will show discomfort and sometimes resist behavior. When children grow up, their learning is also greatly affected. Children will perceive meal times as stressful and not fun.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Children are more likely to become depressed when forced to eat

Therefore, for children who are forced to eat, when they grow up, they will very often not like to eat and feel no appetite. Besides, when forcing children to eat, parents often feel angry and stressed. However, you don't know that kids are just as tired.

More seriously, when children grow up, children who have been forced to eat are prone to psychological stress. Children are easily tired, depressed or prone to aggression, emotional disturbances, mood swings. There are children who are obsessed with being forced to eat.

2.3. Forming bad habits for children

To achieve the goal of forcing children to eat, many parents will use all means. In the long run, children will bargain with their parents. For example, children ask for fruit, buy toys, watch TV, etc., then they will eat. Those bad habits will form and gradually shape in the child's personality.

2.4. Children are easily overweight

Parents do not think that forcing the baby to eat will help provide adequate nutrients for the baby. There have been many cases of parents trying to cram children to eat as much as possible.

It was the act of forcing to eat a lot that left incalculable consequences. Children will be at increased risk of obesity and difficult to control weight. According to general statistics, about 31% of children who are obese are due to being forced to eat in the past. This is due to the accumulation of lipids in the body.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Children who are forced to eat are at risk of being overweight

And of course, children with obesity will be very susceptible to many diseases. For example, diseases of:

  • Cardiovascular: Hypertension , atherosclerosis.
  • Nervous: Cerebral ischemia.
  • Endocrine: Diabetes .
  • Psychiatric: Depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia , etc.

2.5. Children digest food slowly

Children's psychology when being forced to eat is trying to swallow all the food according to their parents' wishes. Therefore, children will not exercise much chewing muscles. The food the baby swallows is very coarse and digested very slowly. As a result, the child suffers from bloating, indigestion and abdominal pain. In addition, children can also suffer from constipation, intestinal obstruction due to raw food that has not been chewed properly.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Children with full stomach indigestion

2.6. Children are prone to dental and respiratory diseases

Eating foods you don't like makes your child prone to vomiting and spitting up. At that time, digestive juices will overflow into the oropharynx, which can lead to pharyngitis. In addition, children can also have tooth decay, respiratory infections.

2.7. Worsening of gastroesophageal reflux disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a very common disease in children. The main reason is that the lower esophageal sphincter of the child is still weak, the stomach's contractions are not strong enough.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Reflux disease in children

When children are forced to eat, they will try to swallow foods that they do not like. Doing so will make the child more likely to vomit. Therefore, children with gastroesophageal reflux disease will become more severe. As a result, the child's esophagus is prone to inflammation due to acid reflux.

3.  How to help children eat well without forcing them to eat ?

Through the above information, it can be affirmed that forcing children to eat is against science. At the same time, it leaves many unpredictable consequences, adversely affecting the health of children. Children are not as healthy as parents would like when forced to eat.

Therefore, nutritionists advise parents to do the following:

The stage when children start to eat solid foods

When your child is at the age of starting to eat solid foods, you should practice giving them the habit of focusing on eating right from the first moment.

  • Limit your baby's walking.
  • Do not let your baby eat while watching TV.
  • Do not let your baby eat and play with toys at the same time because he will love to play and be lazy to eat.
  • Gradually teach children to eat at the right time, eat the whole meal with comfortable words. Absolutely do not scold or threaten children.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Do not let your baby eat while watching TV

Older children

  • Parents, please let the child eat with the family so that the child feels happy and warm.
  • Offer your child a variety of foods.
  • Respond to the child's favorite food. However, it still ensures the basic groups of nutrients. Including: meat - fish, starch, fat, fiber from vegetables and fruits.
  • Regularly change the daily menu to avoid boredom in children.
  • Create a comfortable atmosphere, no pressure when children eat and drink.

Cooking problem

When cooking, mothers need to be flexible in changing dishes to stimulate the child's appetite. At the same time, it is necessary to prepare food that is appropriate for the age of the baby. In addition, mothers should ensure hygiene in food preparation to prevent gastrointestinal diseases in children.

Snacking problem

Parents should limit their children's snacks. Do not let your baby eat too late. Do not give your baby too many fried or sweet foods. From an early age, parents should teach children how to fuel themselves when hungry and drink enough water every day.

Monitor your baby's nutrition

Parents should monitor their baby's nutritional status through a chart of height and weight for age. When detecting signs of stopping or slowing down growth in height and weight, the baby should be taken to the doctor immediately.

Forcing Children to Eat: Should or Shouldn't?

Growth chart in children

Hopefully through this article, parents will know that the act of forcing children to eat is not right with the science and physiology of children. From there, you will know how to make children eat deliciously. At the same time help children have fun and comfort in eating activities.

>> For healthy development, children need to be provided with various vitamins and minerals. Zinc deficiency leads to serious health problems. Foods containing zinc that parents should supplement for children.

Dr. Nguyen Lam Giang