… Without Tearing Your Hair Out
Are there any vegetables that you just can’t stand to look at, let alone eat? Adults can be pretty picky, often instilling their hatred of particularly greenery in their youth and then sticking to it stubbornly as they age. So, it shouldn’t be too difficult for parents to understand where their toddlers are coming from when it comes to refusing to eat vegetables. Right?
Toddlers are just discovering the world and they’re learning how to flex their NO muscles and really building their personality. So, vegetables are the perfect opportunity for them to spread those wings. Yes, your baby adored mushed peas and carrots when it came from a jar and they didn’t know any better… but you’ve entered a brand-new dimension now. They know you can’t force them to eat something they don’t want to… they own you.
Overcoming The Nos
There’s good news, toddler parents, you can win this battle. I have the secrets to getting your kids to eat more vegetables, and guess what… it doesn’t involve tricking them (at least, not all of them do).
The Role Model
Kids like to be just like you so if they see you turning your nose up at certain food items they’re not going to be interested in trying new things. Additionally, if you treat the healthier food items as just an afterthought then it will be difficult to make your kids take them seriously. So, your children should eat what you eat and there’s nothing to stop you from making a variety of vegetables so they can pick and choose.
Food Is Fun
From the kids who hate to leave their toys to come to the table to those who are hounded to eat and made to feel like it’s a chore… food doesn’t feel fun. So, don’t be tempted to indulge in this type of behaviour. Instead, tap into their creative minds and turn it into a game. Do your kids adore dinosaurs? Well, dinosaurs loved eating trees… broccoli looks like trees – boom! Find a way to relate the things your kids love to a variety of vegetables.
Take your kids to the grocery store and let them be involved in the ingredients buying process and if find an age appropriate task that they can do to help you out with the making of the dinner. If you grow your own vegetables then you can show them how you plant and harvest them. Get them involved in the process and you’re far more likely to enjoy a child who is happy to cooperate when it comes time to eat.
- One Bite, Right?
After a child rejects a type of food they need to be exposed to it up to 10 times before they will accept it. So, the one bite rule is a good way to do this. Every time you serve this particular vegetable they have to try just one proper bite of it. It will make the food more familiar and they may eventually come to love it. Don’t press too hard beyond that, though, there are some things that your child will genuinely dislike. I’ve never been a fan of mushrooms and it turns out I had an allergy, but my mom never forced me to eat them because I was such a serious fan of pretty much every other vegetable going.
The Forced Finish
It’s a mistake, a big one. Don’t make mealtimes a negative experience by forcing your child to eat something they say they don’t like. That type of atmosphere is more likely to fuel their picky eating. One bite is right, but don’t push it beyond that and pick fights.
If you create a positive experience around food your children will be more willing to try a variety of foods, so reward them when they take that one bite of a food they don’t like.
One thing that kids love is bright colours, so offer them a variety of colours on their plate. They don’t really care about the combination of flavours, they eat their plate in a different order than you anyway.
You might value health, but your kids don’t know anything about that. So, tell them how eating their vegetables will help them grow, it’s far more effective than telling them it’s healthy or demanding they eat it.
Although it might seem like a never ending battle, the key to getting your kids eating right is persistence. Don’t force them to eat something they don’t want to eat, but don’t take it away from them either. Keep dishing it up – as we’ve mentioned, kids need to see something at least 10 times before they actually accept it, so while they might throw the broccoli right back at you today… in 3 or 4 weeks time you might find them munching down on it and loving every minute.