Feeding kids can be tough. You know what’s worse? Feeding PICKY kids!
You may have heard that it can take up to as many as 20 exposures to a food before a child will actually try it. Even still, that doesn’t mean they will necessarily like it.
In fact, it may actually take way more than twenty tries before your kiddo says yes to that steamed broccoli (or whatever it is you are urging him to try).
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Is there a food that you absolutely despised growing up? Did you refuse to eat the asparagus your mother put on your plate at dinnertime? Chances are you have at least tried these once-hated foods by now and its even likely you enjoy them now as an adult.
So keep trying. (Insert motivational theme music).
I know how frustrating and downright annoying it is to prepare a food you love, only to end up being the only one eating it at the dinner table! In my case, you may know I am unrealistically in love with kale, however, I am pretty much the only person in my house that will eat it in any other form than a baked kale chip!
Every time, I very blatantly try to guilt trip my kids by telling them I worked so hard to prepare this healthy dish and no one even wants to eat it. The response I most often receive is that I should just quit wasting my time because no one likes kale in their soup but me!
So why do I keep buying it and why don’t I give up presenting it at dinner?
As a mom, it is my job to offer a variety of healthy foods to my kids at each meal. It is my children’s job to make the decision of whether or not they are going to eat it, and to decide exactly how much they are going to eat.
This is based on the philosophy of Ellyn Satter, a feeding expert responsible for the development of the “Division of Responsibility in Feeding”. According to Satter, parents should trust that their children will eat, trust that they will eat the amount they need, and that eventually they will learn to eat the foods their parents eat. (MAKE GOOD CHOICES PARENTS!)
So keep whipping up that steamed broccoli and keep presenting it to your child. If you are absolutely positive that he will not take a bite of it, be sure to have another healthy alternative you know he likes on the table as well.
And be sure to play it cool. Don’t make a big deal when they don’t take that one healthy side you really, really want them to eat.
I’ve learned that endless pleading, threats, bribing, and just about every other unbecoming dinnertime tactic I have used to get my kids to eat something, well, they just don’t work. Fortunately for my kids, they are now smart enough to know I am lying when I tell them the zucchini squash tastes just like chocolate ice cream.
Eventually, you will see that your kids will try things on their own timeline and that waiting it out is a hell of a lot easier on your sanity than getting worked up about some steamed broccoli.
I have witnessed this in action firsthand. My son Joey is now 9 years old. It took him up until last year to actually try roasted brussels sprouts. He took the world’s tiniest bite, but he TRIED it! He ended up eating only two of them, but admitted they were not as bad as he expected them to be. #MOMWIN
So keep in mind that as long as you are offering up the healthy foods at mealtimes, you are doing your job as a parent. The rest is up to your child.