Today I continue with the subject of parenting and using my friend Maureen, who I consider to be a great mom, as an example. Last week I touched on a few familiar topics parents deal with like getting your kids to take on responsibilities and addressing disrespectful behavior. This week’s entry is dedicated to the one area that seems to be a problem for many parents–getting your kids to eat healthy.
A key piece of advice is to start early. Don’t wait for your kids to get older when they will be influenced by media messages and their peers. Trust me–it will be much harder to change bad habits than to form good ones from the start.
In Maureen’s situation, there is a strict rule in her household–you have to at least TRY something before rejecting it. Ninety percent of the time her girls end up liking the new food once they give it a chance. She will also reintroduce a food the girls don’t like after a few weeks. Keep in mind that our taste buds change as we age (I used to loathe split pea soup and now I love it!). Maureen has set the expectation that what mom cooks for dinner is what you’re eating. The girls also know that if they don’t eat their dinner there will be no dessert. Remember that everyone has a few foods they don’t like. It’s not about forcing a child to eat things they hate, but to get them to eat a variety of healthy foods and try new things.
Maureen has also found that it helps to have the girls involved in preparing dinner. She gives them small tasks, which makes them more willing to eat what is prepared. Plus, she says it’s a great mom-daughter bonding time. (The photos are of the girls making and then enjoying pumpkin soup!)
Our web site has a terrific section on getting kids involved in healthy eating. Kid friendly recipes, ideas to get them motivated about fruits and veggies and other resources are available.
The bottom line when dealing with your kids is to assert yourself as boss (AKA alpha dog!). They’re going to push the envelope, but you know what’s best for them and while it’s a lot of hard work the end result will definitely be worth it!