Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eat it or Wear it

Childhood experts state that it may take at least a dozen attempts before your child will accept a new food. But what if you can’t get past that first try? Experts also say not to force a new food upon your child. SO, if your child refuses a food repeatedly and you can’t force them to eat it, what’s a parent to do? Well…I don’t really know, but I can share some other “expert” suggestions that didn’t work out for me.

1) Camouflage foods: i.e. – chocolate zucchini cupcakes or strawberry/banana/broccoli smoothie. This, in fact, can worsen the situation. In our case, the intruder (shredded carrots in a meatball) was detected immediately and all future offerings were given a thorough (and I mean thorough) inspection. The thing is – I want my child to know, and hopefully like what he is eating. I don’t want to have to sneak food. It’s just, you know… too sneaky.

2) Reward system: i.e. “bribery”. We actually had high hopes for this one. We thought we hit the jackpot when our son (then 6) agreed to eat a sliver of lettuce in exchange for three hockey trading cards. Unbeknownst to him, Grandma had just returned from a trip to Toronto with a flea market find of one thousand assorted hockey cards. I think he tried maybe seven or eight new foods and started to put together the beginnings of a decent card collection. We were pleased while it lasted, but he lost interest in the cards. I was close to putting together a “prize basket”, but you know, it just didn’t feel right. There had to be another way.

3) Eat it or Eat Nothing: This method involves making it clear to your child that the food on the table is the only meal being offered. For us, this resulted in the eating of nothing, followed by a long stretch of crying (from hunger, we were told). I read in a parenting magazine that if a child is hungry enough, they will eventually give in. SO we presented the meal again. This was followed by the eating of nothing, followed by a long stretch of crying (from hunger). And so on. You get the picture…

4) Eat it or Wear it: This was actually my husband’s idea. He claimed this to be the method his own father used back in the day. Obviously a “Dad” thing. I would never suggest this, nor would I agree to it. Who exactly would be the one to clean up the mess? Daddy?? Noooo. And that is why you will never hear a mom threaten “eat it or wear it”. In any case, one phone call to Grandpa confirmed the dramatic “eat it or wear it” story of my husband’s childhood to be an untruth. Or at least grossly exaggerated.

Not to be overly negative, there is one trick that does work for me. For reasons I cannot explain, my son willingly eats almost every single sample offered at Costco on any given day. Just today he ate BBQ chicken, spinach and mozzarella ravioli, and a chicken potsticker with soy sauce. So you probably wonder why I don’t just buy the foods he samples and serve them at home. You would think it would be that simple, but if you look in my freezer, you will see a 50 pound bag of uneaten spinach and mozzarella ravioli. I was thinking about donning a shower cap and apron and serving the foods in bite sized pieces placed on little paper doilies. Instead, I asked my son “WHY?!”. His answer – “It’s free”. I can’t even begin to explain the reasoning. I assure you we do not ask him to contribute to the weekly grocery tab. But hey, it works and that’s fine with us.

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