Peer Pressure: When yum turns into yuk ’cause some kids said something.
I’m sure you know what I mean. Your son has been devouring the avocado in his school lunch for two years. Two years. One day he casually mentions that Timmy said the avocado smelled funky. Weird. Maybe even disgusting. So now, avocado is out of the rotation. It’s the food equivalent of being kicked off the football team. Peer pressure. It stinks.
Recently I wrote a post about three school supplies children need but which you don’t have to buy: Coping with New Skill Set, Independence Aptitude Tool Set and Being Different Proficiency Pack. A reader, who had listened to my podcast on the topic, asked for a recap on what parents can tell children who experience food peer pressure.
The heart of the peer pressure problem is a single burning question, “Am I Normal?
Do I look like others look? Think like others think? Eat what others eat? Most of us dying to reassure our kids that the answer is unequivocally “yes.” But hold on. Not so fast. Let’s pick this question apart.
Normal=Different is the way to cope with food peer pressure. Responses to help children feel confident in their food choices.
Parent to Child
- I’m so sorry that you were teased at school today.
- Sometimes it’s hard to be different, but we’re all different in some way. That’s what makes us special.
- Every family is different.
- What do you wish you could have said to Sandy?
- That must have felt awful.
- Has there ever been something your friend was eating that you thought was weird? What did you think or say?
- How do you want to handle the situation?
- You know how Dad likes strawberries and you don’t? Same thing.
- Do you think she was teasing you or just noticing the different food?
- Want a hug?
Child to Friend
- I also thought it smelled weird until I tasted it. Then I thought it was yummy.
- I’m sure there are lots of food you like that your sisters (cousins, friends, parents) don’t like.
- It’s great that we all like different foods. It is one of the things that makes us special.
- Sometimes you just have to get used to it.
- When I first saw it I thought I would never touch it. But now it’s one of my favorites.
- Sometimes it’s hard for me to eat food that’s different than my friends but then I remember that I like it. Yesterday we both ate the same kinds of sandwich.
- Yeah, I guess this is smellier than usual. I didn’t notice until you pointed it out. Cool.
- Last night my mom and I were talking about how different families do and eat different foods.
- Want a taste?
- It hurts my feelings a little that you are making fun of my food. Please stop.
If you don’t want your children to be susceptible to peer pressure, you can’t use peer pressure to get your kids to eat healthy foods.
- Look, Bobby eats spinach. Don’t you want to try some spinach?
- Wow, Carol loves chicken. Don’t you want to be like her?
- Jimmy is going to get dessert because he ate his vegetables.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~