Our kids are fussier eaters than we were

A third of children are described as fussy eaters by their parents, according to a survey. Two third of parents say their kids are more fussy today than they remember being at the same age.

According to the findings, by vegetable brand Green Giant, more than one in 20 children resorts to hiding the foods they don’t want to eat, with one mother reporting that her six-year-old son is regularly caught flushing peas down the toilet. A mother with a four-year old son, said she has to pretend that his favourite animation character, Buzz Lightyear, is on the phone saying he is having the same thing as him for dinner before he will eat.

A similar proportion of children have been caught sneaking food onto another family member’s plates and to the dog, while good old-fashioned sulks (13%), tantrums (14%) and claiming to be full (34%) are children’s most common forms of defence against eating foods they don’t like.

One in five parents say they let their kids eat dinner in front of the television, while a similar number have resorted to buying special treats for pudding as a reward.

One in 10 parents say to keep the family happy they eat at different times to their kids, and one in five say they have to cook different meals to suit different tastes.

The OnePoll study also shows that one in 10 children regularly use mobile phones or iPods to entertain themselves during mealtimes, while the most frequent mealtime family arguments include having to eat at the table, bad manners and rows over the washing up.

Meanwhile, more than one in five parents say they offer rewards or bribes to make their children eat, while one in six parents are just giving kids what they want to eat.

The study also shows the increasing lengths that both parents and children will go to in their bid to gain an advantage in the mealtime war stakes, with blackmail, tricks and good old-fashioned tantrums all being deployed.

However, three quarters of parents surveyed found modern family mealtimes stressful and compared them with reverse parking, being late for work and a trip to the dentist. Some even admitted parents were to blame, with more than half (55%) saying parents let their kids get away with being fussy, more than four out of 10 (44%) admit to just wanting an easy life, and more than a quarter (26%) saying they don’t have the time or energy to argue.

Perhaps most annoyingly for parents, the survey found that their children’s mealtime behaviour can totally change when a take-away is on offer, or if they are eating out. One in four parents say they children will eat what they are given at a friend’s house, while one in five will clear their plates without argument if out dining at a restaurant or eating a take-away at home.

The survey included 3000 people nationwide.

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