The majority of children between two and five years of age who are brought in by their parents for refusing to eat are healthy and have an appetite that is appropriate for their age and growth rate. Unrealistic parental expectations may result in unnecessary concern, and inappropriate threats or punishments may aggravate the refusal to eat. A detailed history and general physical examination are necessary to rule out acute and chronic illnesses. A food diary and assessment of parental expectations of eating behavior should be completed. When the child's "refusal to eat" is found to be related to unrealistic parental expectations, the parents should be reassured and counseled about the normal growth and development of children at this age.