Tips For Teaching Children To Enjoy A Variety Of Foods
I was standing outside my kindergartner's school, engrossed in a conversation with his new teacher. My 4 year old bent over and picked something up off the ground. He started rolling it in his fingers, then he casually lifted it towards his mouth.
My hand whipped down to swat the piece of rabbit poo before it disappeared inside him. Hoping his teacher hadn't noticed, I whispered into his ear, "that was poo, don't eat it" and continued chatting.
Any reasonable person would think I'd said enough. "Poo. Don't eat." But no, another piece was quickly picked up and headed resolutely for his mouth.
What on earth, child!?!
Kids have an innate curiosity for taste. It's hardwired, like their need to touch EVERYTHING… and to play with elevators. It's why one of our household rules is "Only eat food".
Despite this innate curiosity, a formal sit down family meal can turn into a battlefield. I have been part of these battles and learned… taste is secondary to experience.
Give a child a bowl of broccoli and tell them to eat it, it likely will go badly.
However, give them a bowl of monkey trees, and tell them to shake the monkeys out before they eat them, then freak out when they accidentally eat monkeys, it will go much better. Throw some cheese sauce on (aka lava) and you may have 3 little kids begging you in the grocery store to buy more and more broccoli, as strangers laugh and offer high fives for your fantastic parenting.
Or be like Grandma and make "monster plates" with a variety of foods cut into shapes to look like different parts of a monster face.
Who can get the biggest spinach smoothie mustache? Points to Uncle Sean who does smoothie mustache competitions by texting pictures.
And for teething toddlers who love gumming them, frozen peas are like candy. "There's no frozen peas for dessert until you eat your hot dog", is a sentence I never thought I would say, for a few reasons. But I have.
There are many ways to help children happily eat well. The vegetables they grow from seed are always gobbled up. Food they help to cook is eaten with pride. And sometimes, repeatedly putting something they don't like on their plate results in a weak moment, and they realize they do like it.
So heres to your children eating dinner as happily as they eat the 💩 on the school grounds.