How to Get your Kids to Eat
For the most part, this coocoo momma has NO IDEA how to get my kids to eat what I cook.
It’s something I struggle with frequently. When my son told me this morning (repeatedly) “this French Toast is KILLING ME” and scary mommy came out until he had finished. every. last. bite. I decided to call an expert.
I was in awe this summer when (for an entire week) we observed my niece (5) and nephew (2) eat everything placed before them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner with little to no complaining. Those poor babies had to eat my turkey meat loaf for at least five meals in a row (so sorry-Aunt Mandy loves you).
My sister-in-laws advice
How to get your kids to eat whatever you cook
The short answer is this: I listened to my wise husband.
The longer answer is this: There is something in loving parents’ hearts that really wants to lavish good gifts on their kids. This is a good thing—a reflection of God’s heart for us. The problem sets in when we are willing to sacrifice our kids’ long-term good for short-term pleasure. I found myself doing this a lot when our first-born was still under 2 years old. My smart husband called me on it again and again, but I just couldn’t see it as he did. I thought he was being too hard on the kids.
One area of this dilemma was with our family meals. I would make dinner for my husband and I. Then I would make dinner for our daughter. It was easy enough at the time, but I didn’t realize I was nurturing a little monster of an attitude called “entitlement.”
In their book, From Innocence to Entitlement: A Love and Logic Cure for the Tragedy of Entitlement, Jim Fay & Dawn Billings describe this little monster of an attitude this way:
Entitlement flourishes in the disrespectful demands we hear too often from too many children, including our own. It is fed by the media and nourished by the overindulgence that many parents perpetrate on their children in the name of love. That is how entitlement creeps undetected into our homes, our communities, our schools, and our country. It disguises itself as love and generosity, when all the while it is a thief, out to steal all that is truly valuable in our lives and the lives of our children… Entitlement is clever, disguising itself as a friend pretending to bring more to our lives—always more. But entitlement is no friend…It is a lie that exists…to steal our happiness, our respect, our appreciation, and our joy. (p. 4)
Once I got on board with my husband, we made these simple changes:
The kids eat what we eat as soon as they can (definitely by 2 years of age).
If they eat all their meal, they get a snack and/or a treat. (We serve treats in our home Thursday-Sunday.) We give them smaller servings to make the snack-goal attainable.
If they don’t eat their meal, no problem. (No harassing or coaxing!) But absolutely no snacks or alternatives are served. They can eat next meal!
If they don’t like the meal and say so, no problem. But excessive whining about it will likely result in losing the meal altogether. No problem. They can eat next meal!
Kids are smart. It only takes about 2 days for kids to “get it.” They eat what you eat or they don’t eat at all. I don’t think our kids have ever missed more than a meal in the learning process, and heck, that’s nothing when you consider that thousands of kids only get a bowl of rice once a day. Many children in the world only have a few things to eat ever! Our kids are incredibly blessed to have 3 different colors represented on their plates at one time!
Starting today, I am going to challenge myself to do exactly what my sister-in-law advised.
Would you take this this challenge with me?
Are your kids great eaters? How’d you do it?