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by Abigail Van Buren

No Need To Make Children Eat More Than They Want

DEAR ABBY: I am a grandmother, a former teacher and I have my master's in child psychology. I was also a school board member. I love children.

Please pass this along to parents and anyone else who cares for children: Quit force-feeding them! Again and again I see parents beg and coerce their kids to eat. There are too many obese people in the world. Kids will eat when they are hungry. Just don't give them any junk in between.

I know a dad who told me he forced his son to finish his food until the son went and threw up. He said he will never do that again. Remember, children have small stomachs. They don't need to eat much to feel full. Restaurants serve too much.

Let kids eat when they need to. Just give them healthy choices. -- DIANE IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR DIANE: Unfortunately, babies don't come with written instructions. Many parents "encourage" their children to eat because they're afraid if they don't they're not doing their job. It's a reflection of their anxiety. Too often, mealtime turns into a power struggle, which is a big mistake.

What you have written is common sense. A pediatrician or health clinic can advise parents what and how much their child should eat. And I agree, restaurant portions are usually larger than customers should consume in one meal, which is why those who are watching their calories are advised to cut the portions in half before eating.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety