How to get your child to eat vegetables…
We all want our children to eat a healthy, balanced diet, but how we get there respectfully really matters! When we talk about respecting our children, it seems such a mysterious and complex issue. How do we do this?!
Well it’s actually very easy.
Reflect on how you respect any other human being..
Basically, if you cannot imagine yourself saying something to an adult, mystery solved — don’t say this to your child!
Really visualise this, It’s important! Picture yourself walking into the lunch room at work:
“Put it down, Shane! How many times do I have to tell you, you need to eat your sandwich first before you can eat your muffin”!
“You need to eat more than that before you can leave the table”!
“Nobody is going back to work until you take just one more bite”!
“You are making me feel very sad because you didn’t eat your broccoli”!
“Children in Africa are starving and you are putting half your microwave wok-in-a-box in the bin. Really Anna”?
“Come on, open up Stacey, zooooommmmm! Here comes the airplane”!
I know this sounds comical, but laughs aside – if I did this to you, and I was actually serious, not trying to be funny, what does this feel like to you? What words are coming up for you?
These are powerful feelings! Now imagine you are two years old and still learning to identify and manage your own emotions!
I understand that sometimes we ‘go there’ because we are worried that our child will be hungry or develop unhealthy eating habits. If you have concerns with your child’s eating patterns, you should seek the advice of a medical health professional. However for children who are generally fussy about their food, the following pointers will hopefully serve you well:
1. Meal times should be battle-free
If half your child’s food is on the floor, it’s time to intervene calmly and respectfully. “I can see you are not feeling very hungry. Let’s put this away for later”. Full stop. The end. Put it away for later.
2. Allow choices
Respect your child’s need to contribute to their world by allowing your child to make choices. Try serving food in the middle of the table and asking, “How many spoons of rice”? “How many spoons of peas”? Note, the question is phrased to avoid a yes or no response.
3. Let them help
Allow your child to help with the preparation of the meal – children are so capable if you let them be! They can scrub potatoes, peel carrots, shell peas, grate, chop, mash, stir, mix, serve themselves; they also enjoy washing the dishes! Children are much more likely to eat something that they have helped to prepare. Try growing the vegetables in your garden. It’s not only sustainable but your child will be so proud of what they’ve grown that they just might eat it!
4. Houdini can take a break
Try not to ‘trick’ your child into eating foods by hiding them or dressing them up as something else. If you respect your child as an individual- you will respect that we all have individual food preferences. These preferences will change over time, keep discussions about food positive, keep offering, never force. You know that feeling when you bite into your pizza and realise the pizza shop accidentally put anchovies on your pizza?
5. Role model
Be authentic. Nobody is believing these are the best brussel sprouts you’ve ever had in your life! No need for dinner and a show. Just simply eating dinner at the table together as a family is enough.
At The Learning Sanctuary the Practical Life Curriculum is the cornerstone of our Montessori Philosophy. Practical Life activities are just what they sound like- teaching children practical skills for life! This includes gardening, food preparation, cooking, eating, recycling food scraps and cleaning up- including washing the dishes! Feel free to contact us to find out more.
By Jasmin Raddon Centre Manager of The Learning Sanctuary Littlehampton
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