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How can we encourage our daughter to eat more and defend herself?

Q: My 3-year-old daughter is not behaving and eating as desired. Initially, we taught her that there is nothing like mine and thine. We encouraged her to share all her toys with others. Now, she is 3+, she gives away everything to others. She is not able to assert her own rights too. She does not even resist if some other child assaults her physically. She also has a lot of problems in eating. She weighs 13 kg only. How can we increase her appetite?

A:Regarding your daughters sharing toys with others, what a very nice trait. I do not think that any major problem will arise because of her doing so. Defending herself is another matter. The adult person in charge (whether at home or in Nursery School) should insist on keeping some discipline and make sure that no one assaults any child. Your daughter is small and can be pushed down in a friendly tussle. She must be protected through adult intervention. You must find out why she is not eating well. Has she been de-wormed? (given medicine for worms)? Most Indian families tend to use a lot of spice in the cooking and young children find it too hot. Make mild food (low spice in vegetables, dal etc.) for your child, so that she can eat them with relish. Give her bread, butter and cheese for a snack. She must drink at least two glasses of milk everyday. Talk to her and find out what she would like to eat. If she says chocolates, biscuits and Coke, you should NOT give them to her. Once or twice a week, a chocolate can be given after a meal. Biscuits can be given once a day in the late afternoon. Avoid Coke and all other soft drinks. Bring in a lot of variety in the food items. Tell her stories and talk to her when she is eating. Apart from the three main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, make sure that there is a healthy mid-morning snack and something interesting to eat in the early evening. If you find that the child is not steadily gaining weight, even after your improved food items and more relaxed ways of feeding her, consult a Paediatrican or your family doctor or a Nutrition expert. The child's sleep should also be adequate: at least 12 hrs everyday. Help her to get used to her daily routines, so that she enjoys both mealtime and bedtime. She must have the energy to play with other children and to feel active and happy.

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