Well, as they say, better late than never. Two columns ago, I promised to share my “fail-safe, money-back guaranteed formula for getting kids to eat everything on their plates.” Then, as if I was in my 60s or something, I forgot and wrote a column about kids who argue constantly with their parents.
When I was a kid, I thought spinach tasted weird. I ate it anyway and learned eventually to love it. My parents didn’t give me a choice. That’s the real reason kids have picky palates – parents give choices.
Since the parenting revolution of the 1960s, experts have been encouraging parents to give children choices. And so today’s parents complain about children who argue with them about “everything.” They also complain that their kids won’t eat what’s put on their plates. Here’s the simple, tested three-step plan:
1. Fix the picky eater what YOU want him to eat for breakfast and lunch. If he does not eat it, wrap it or toss it. Do not allow him to snack between meals. You have to stop wanting him to eat. He will live. My lawyer said I could tell you that.
2. Prepare the evening meal with no consideration of said picky eater’s food preferences. On his plate, put one level teaspoon of each food. The rule then becomes: When the child has eaten EVERYTHING on his plate, he may have seconds of ANYTHING, and the second helping of whatever can be as large as his eyes are big.
3. It will take a week or so, and much complaining and maybe even pitiful wailing in the interim, but he will eventually begin eating the green, weird-tasting thing. At that point, begin slowly increasing the portion size of the green thing, but do not increase the portion of the thing(s) he loves. Keep them at one teaspoon. Within a month, he will be eating a regular-size portion of foods his palate would not accept previously, upon which you can begin increasing the portion size of things he loves.
The key to the success is that the parents do not sit at the table encouraging him to “just try” the food he hates. They must act completely nonchalant.