Let me just start by saying I prefer not to use the label "picky eater" with my children. That said, if I hear you calling your kids "picky eaters," I won't be casting any stones! There certainly isn't one right way to parent.
It's commonly understood that what a person is told about themselves, they believe. So I would rather help my children believe they can grow, change and adapt over time! I also want them to believe they don't have to be tied to a certain label or characteristic for their entire life.
What I do prefer to say about a child who eats little of what is offered to them is, "you're still learning to like _______" rather than an exasperated "you're so picky!"
Don't get me wrong, feeding children can be incredibly frustrating! I know! I have 5 kids. My efforts to create healthy meals are not always appreciated. :/ (picture tongues sticking out in disgust, crying, whining, yelling, etc.--I've heard some fantastic protests!)
When I started feeding my first child solid foods, I felt determined to "do it right." I was convinced that with my background we would have some of the healthiest eaters around! We started out fabulously! Brown rice, quinoa, steamed veggies, fish, lentils, beans, green smoothies...it was pure bliss! Until it wasn't.
Slowly she started refusing foods I thought she loved. I was devastated! I thought I had done all the right things to raise a healthy eater, and it seemed she had turned into a "picky eater" (though I never classified her as one).
Somewhere in my despair I remembered learning about phases in eating, and how children would go in and out of liking and disliking food. So rather than back myself into a corner and resort to only cooking meals she would happily eat, I determined to soldier on and continue offering healthy, balanced meals.
Now 8 years old, Ellie chooses salads, extra veggies, green smoothies and more! I'm so glad I didn't give her the "picky eater" label but rather allowed her to pass through the phase with space and respect.
So my advice is to hold off on the labeling and be patient through the process of your child "learning to like" the healthy foods you prepare.
For more information about some guiding principles that have helped our family during mealtimes, click here.