6 Tips for great eating kids
How do you get your kids to eat well? Try these 6 tips!
Eat as a family at the table.
Eating as a family at the same table builds stability, consistency, and structure in the family. In addition to structure and stability, it gives a ton of opportunities for communication. Time we rarely get anymore. Uninterrupted focused time on the individual people in the family. We get to hear about each other’s days, laugh, joke, cry, and hear about the wins and losses we experience.
In addition, kids get to watch and learn. How mom and dad interact and discuss family matters. How they eat. The little ones pick up on what the older ones (including parents) are doing. When we boil down to the basics kids are simply copycats and they want to be like their older sibling and their parents. Good eaters breed good eaters.
Don’t give into terrorists.
Kids are pretty instinctive. They will repeat behaviors that cause you to react. When they see you cave because they pitch a fit, guess what they do the next time?
The only way to prevent you from being a pawn is to hold strong. In our house, you didn’t leave the table till you were done eating dinner. If you refused to eat you had the option to go to bed early. In many circumstances that dinner was waiting for you when you woke up and asked for breakfast. Certainly, exceptions were made at times, but we were pretty firm on dinnertime. Mom worked hard to make it, Dad worked hard to pay for it, its healthy and good for you, so you are going to not waste our efforts by throwing it in the trash.
Be realistic on food choices and the portions you put on the plate.
I’m all about kids eating real food. Chicken, steak, pork, Broccoli, veggies, carbs, etc. Mom is not making multiple versions of dinner. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. But certain flavor profiles are not going to be worth the struggle. We never forced spicy foods, unique or real strong flavors on kids. As they get older, we strongly encouraged tasting to decide if they liked foods. For the most part our meals were pretty normal. Salt and pepper, maybe some garlic and butter. We never forced spicy Indian, raw sushi, or real complex flavors. We were realistic in that sense. We also had chicken strips, hotdogs, and French fry nights.
At the same time, we need to not overserve the plates. If we’re going to be strict on clearing the plates then I would rather they ask for seconds than have to fight them to eat more than they can.
If you promise consequences, you must deliver.
Not just for eating but in life. Your word has to mean something. If you promise a trip to Disney land for straight a’s on a report card you better follow through. If you promise to take away tv for a week if they don’t clean their room you better make sure there is no tv for a week.
Too many parents are not willing to follow through because it is hard on them. I got news for you. It matters. It’s important. Parenting requires sacrifice.
Use clever recipes to disguise less popular food.
I’m not a huge fan of this method, but not enough to be against it. I don’t think we ever did this in our house. I mean we made smoothies and casseroles but it wasn’t an intentional way to work vegetables in. Our kids just had to eat their vegetables. I’ve seen some interesting recipes. Mostly involving someone chopping up veggies real fine and adding them to scrambled eggs or some sort of casserole. Its not a terrible idea. And I’ll admit I’ve seen some kids that are really committed to making eating a challenge on their parents. So especially if you cracking down on this later than earlier disguising might be a strong option to try.
But we do need to eventually get to a point where kids eat real food.
Don’t be offended when they dip everything in ketchup and proclaim it to be good.
This one hurts me most. Ketchup. I mean c’mon. That is a nice steak. I’m insulted when you use steak sauce…. but ketchup. And these kids, including my own, will proclaim that everything is so much better when smothered in ketchup. It breaks my heart. I’m 100% against it. But I’m willing to let it slide to let them think they a sophisticated and winning. But it hurts my food-loving soul….it really does.