By: Samie McCullough
How many times have you sat down to eat a wonderfully prepared meal with your family and your preschool aged child looks at you with disgust you we pass them their plate? The usual response from such a youngster is typically: “What’s that?”, or “I don’t like that”. Then what do you do? That’s right, the negotiation starts right away. Most parents might respond with a quick “Eat your carrots and you can have ice cream after dinner”. But how many of us parents know that this type of response is actually detrimental to our preschooler? According to research studies, when children are offered these types of bribes it only teaches them that you eat the good foods to get to the bad foods. When children are offered bribes they start to understand that eating the good foods are not important but instead it is a gateway to the bad foods.
Another problem that occurs with preschool children is what I like to call “picky eater syndrome”. They start to only really like at least 2-3 things and that’s it. So what do us as parents do? We usually put the “healthy” stuff on their plate and magically expect them to look at it appealingly, but for some reason they don’t. One research proven way to help them start to like and to try eating new things is by the parents themselves eating the “healthy” foods in front of their child. Sounds so simple I know. Studies have shown that when children are shown to eat something without any pressure they will start to gravitate toward that food. Over time it just becomes second nature.
So my advice in a nutshell: Eat what we want our children to eat and stop with the bribes! It’s going to be hard, but it will benefit your little one in the end.