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Question From a Feeding Therapist: How do I Help When Parents Won’t?

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Last month I received an email from a feeding therapist asking me for advice about one of the patients she provides feeding therapy for. I was both surprised and unsurprised by this question.

Easy Ways to Help Your Child Eat More Food

At first, I was surprised that I was being asked because I’m not a feeding therapist, but then I realized that I have heard from other therapists that having a patient’s family be unsupportive can be a huge roadblock in helping the patient improve and move forward.

Feeding Therapist

So what’s a therapist to do? Here are my thoughts from the perspective of a parent who has had two children in feeding therapy for years.

How Can a Feeding Therapist Help When Parents Won’t?



I am a feeding therapist working with a 10-year-old boy who eats only mac & cheese, cheese pizza, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The child’s parents don’t help. They ask him what he wants and then give him those options. My question is this: How can I get the parents to introduce new foods and be consistent? How can I help this boy if the parents aren’t willing to the things I suggest? I have tried many different things and his mom always says, “We’ve tried that.” and she refuses to try new things. I only have two hours a day, five days a week with him and I really want to help him eat more. Thank you.

 – Wanda

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Hi Wanda,

Thanks for emailing me! Here are my thoughts on the matter: If the child’s parents aren’t willing to work together with you on this in clinic or at home, then you can’t force them to. Believe it or not, there are many parents who are not willing to face their child’s diagnosis and therefore refuse to do anything differently in raising them.

See Also: Tips for Children With Feeding Disorders

I think it’s a good step forward that the child is getting so much feeding therapy and his parents are at least doing that for him. I would try and have a talk with his parents and see what they are willing and able to do. I would also make it clear that progress in feeding therapy takes time even years for some, but if they are consistent in what they do at home, he will make progress.

If at that point they are still unwilling to work with you to help him, I would tell them that they are paying for your expertise, but in order to continue therapy they must be willing to work on these tasks at home otherwise the therapy techniques will not work.

What about YOU? What would you advise this feeding therapist?

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