Top Tips For Fussy Eaters KIDS IN THE KITCHENMost children adore cooking, and tasks such as squeezing fresh orange juice and cracking eggs are well within the capabilities of a young child. It's amazing how being involved in the planning and preparing of a meal can stimulate a child's appetite. Cooking is also a great way of bonding with children -- spending quality time shopping for ingredients and actually making the recipes together can be a fun task for everyone involved. It's a good idea to ask your child to invite over a group of friends, choose a menu, and get them to prepare their own lunch or supper (younger children will need a little adult supervision). Not only are they more likely to eat something they have a hand in preparing, but they are also measuring ingredients, keeping track of time, etc., all without noticing. It's also fun to organize a cooking birthday party. Sit down with your child and choose a selection of party recipes such as Animal Cupcakes, Focaccia Pizza, My Favorite Gingersnaps, and Vegetable Kebabs. Group the children in pairs to prepare the food. I've organized many cooking parties for my children, and they were so popular that many of their friends ended up doing the same for their birthdays. EAT TOGETHEREating with the whole family whenever possible can really make a difference. Personally, I think that taking the focus off your child's eating and having lots of social chat at the table is helpful. Avoid using mealtimes to assert your authority. If there is a lecture to give, choose another time. My children are teenagers now, and on a Friday night we always try to have dinner together and take turns telling one another some of the good and bad things that happened to us during the week. Sometimes children don't realize that bad things happen to adults, too, so it doesn't matter whether it's trivial or important -- dinnertime is a time for communicating and getting to know one another. It can soon become a regular family ritual. Children are more likely to open up to you if you are open with them, and it's good bonding time. REWARD SCHEMESIn a recent survey, 25 percent of mothers said that they dread mealtimes, and nearly 50 percent admitted they resort to bribery to get their children to eat up. Sticker charts usually work best once your child reaches two and a half. Keep portions absolutely minuscule (your child can always ask for more and will get a sense of achievement for finishing his or her meal), and at first give a sticker for just trying the food. Your child could have a yogurt as a reward for trying his or her main course. The treats for completing a sticker chart should not be unhealthy foods (e.g., sweets), as this gives the wrong message. Ideally, they should be small and affordable (you may be doing sticker charts for quite a long time!). Make the charts yourself, perhaps using pictures of your child's favorite things (tractors, fairies, etc.) to decorate it. You could even download pictures from the Internet for your child to color in to make the sticker chart with you. Try to keep them short for this age group so that the first one is relatively easily attainable and teaches your child the purpose of these charts. Another useful reward scheme, for slightly older children, is to fill an empty jar with small objects such as dried pasta shapes. One pasta shape is awarded for eating a meal or trying something new (or any other good behavior). Start with a small jar and let your child put the pasta in him- or herself. A small present or treat (e.g., family trip to beach/football game/Rollerblading in the park) is the prize for filling the jar so that the lid does not fit on. Encourage your child to make an "Eat Up" book. Buy a scrapbook and get your child to stick in the packaging or a photo of the new food that he or she eats. You could find some old food magazines and cut out photos of foods that you wouldKarmel, Annabel is the author of 'Fussy Eaters' Recipe Book: 135 Quick, Tasty and Healthy Recipes to Get Your Kids to Eat', published 2008 under ISBN 9781416578765 and ISBN 1416578765.