Fussy eater Hayden Cunningham, 3, pleads for something more yummy after being offered healthy fruit for morning tea.
Fussy eater Hayden Cunningham, 3, pleads for something more yummy after being offered healthy fruit for morning tea. Jocelyn Watts

Do you know a toddler who's a fussy eater?

LOCAL researchers are again seeking the parents of toddlers who are problem-eaters to take part in a study to evaluate a parenting program.

The results will add to the data gathered when University of Southern Queensland psychology lecturer Michelle Adamson trialled the Hassle Free Mealtimes Triple P - Positive Parenting Program as part of her doctoral studies.

Her initial eight-session program, followed by a single session in 2012, was found to significantly improve children's eating and mealtime behaviour.

Dr Adamson and USQ psychology honours student Toni Cooper are now seeking about 20 parents of two to five-year-olds with eating problems to take part in further research in Hervey Bay.

Eating difficulties could include fussy eating, mealtime misbehaviour such as refusing to come to or leaving the table, tantrums or refusal to eat.

"We had some excellent outcomes from the previous programs," Dr Adamson said.

"Parents who attended reported their kids were eating better and had less mealtime problems. 

"The parents were thinking about mealtimes differently and feeling more confident."

Dr Adamson said some theorists believed the problem eating peak in the two to five-year-old age range was evolutionary, from a survival point of view.

Like little cavemen, once kids become more independent, they also become more careful about what they put in their mouths so they don't eat everything in case some of it is unsafe.

"In this new study, we will be replicating the previous studies plus adding some different things that look the issues more broadly including how dads engage with the program compared to mums."

Participants will attend a single two-hour seminar, which will offer practical ideas and support about mealtimes.

"Parents will learn about the causes of childhood feeding difficulties, establishing eating routines and ground rules, and various behavioural strategies including praise, positive attention, behaviour charts, modelling, planned ignoring, instructions and consequences.

"The program will be free of charge to parents as part of the research.

"In exchange, parents will be asked to complete measures before and after their session.

"The research is being run in partnership between USQ and the University of Queensland.

"This has allowed us to offer the program to parents in the Fraser Coast region."

Two groups will be offered at USQ Fraser Coast, the first in May and the second in June.

Dr Adamson said places were filling fast so it would be wise to book early.

To register, visit https://exp.psy.uq.edu.au/mealtimes/ or for more information, phone Toni Cooper on 4194 3189 or email W0042357@umail.usq.edu.au.



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