If your children don’t trust you they will refuse new foods.
In my last post, “I’ll Try It When I’m 5,” I made the argument that when kids promise to eat something, and then they don’t eat it, they’re not lying. Rather, they are showing your their intentions. Children want to be good and eat the way you want them to eat. Fear holds them back. The antidote to fear is build trust.
Of course, some children refuse foods simply because they’re in a control struggle with you. Under normal circumstances, these children would happily eat the orange you’re offering. However, you’re offering it. You. The one person in the world they most want to defy. I’ve written about this on the blog and in my book. Here’s one idea: My husband and I let our daughter Go on Strike!
But let’s get back to trust. There’s one essential problem.
Step One in Establishing Trust: Promise you’ll never make your child eat anything she doesn’t want to eat. You have to mean it.
This doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands in defeat. You can be upfront about wanting to teach your child how to be comfortable exploring new foods, but this is an entirely different objective than “getting” your child to eat new foods. “Getting.” Do you hear the coercion in that word? Your child does.
Exploring new foods may simply mean describing what potatoes look or smell like. It may mean seeing if a boiled or baked potato squishes more than french fries.
Step Two in Establishing Trust: Apologize to your child for making eating difficult and stressful for him.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong. (You and I both know you’re intentions are good and that teaching children to eat is fulfilling your parental job description.)
The apology helps your child feel like you’re on his side. Do you know how your child feels about trying new foods? Do you know how your child feels about the pressure to try new foods?
Of course, most children cannot easily express their feelings about food or the parent-child dynamic. They can, however, respond to scenarios like this: “Sometimes children feel like their parents will get angry if they don’t try new foods. Other times, children feel like they’re mad at their parents for making them try new foods.”
The more your kids feel like you care about their feelings, the more willing they’ll be to try new foods. I promise.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~