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Therapy for Picky Eaters

What ages do you treat picky eating for at the Center for CBT? 

Preschool-aged Children

What is picky eating

Picky eating is a very common characteristic of development and growth throughout early childhood. Particularly in ages 2-4, picky eating and having certain restrictive foods is very normative. Children are consistently exploring the world and the foods that accompany it; this may involve becoming comfortable with a few specific foods and rejecting others. However in some cases, picky eating in children may seem to take over and cause impairment in several settings (e.g., home, school, etc.). Once this happens, it's important to determine if the child's picky eating is part of their normal developmental process or if it is something that they need some extra help with.

How do I know if my picky eater needs treatment?

Some signs that your child may be a good candidate for therapy for picky eating may be:

  • Conflict and stress at meal times

  • A limited and slim number of acceptable foods

  • Power struggles around eating

  • Needing to accommodate and design family meal schedules around picky eating

  • Associated challenges present in numerous settings (e.g., school, friend’s house, parties)

What does treatment for picky eating look like?

Behavior Therapy has been researched and shown to be the most effective form of therapy for picky eaters. Behavior Therapy for picky eating at the Center for CBT is a 10-16 session treatment that begins with practicing meal-time hygiene and then transitions into gradual and consensual exposures with increasingly challenging foods. Children learn, through gradual exposure, that facing their fears of certain avoided foods will have positive outcomes, such as rewards and natural reinforcements.  Through our friendly and playful approach to this highly effective treatment, we create the context for kids to feel encouraged to continue with their brave efforts until the family's goals are met. Behavior Therapy has been shown to significantly reduce picky eating, increase food variety, reduce family conflict and stress around meal time, and improve quality of life and self-help skills for children.

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