• Staci

1 phrase to stop using with your "picky" eater

I hear it all the time. This one phrase that so many parents of "picky" eaters seem to use over and over again. Whether it's friends of mine or strangers in the Costco sample line, I hear it so regularly and it makes me crazy. What is that phrase? Here it is:

"You won't like that."

What??? Why would you say such a thing to a child? You don't -- you can't possibly -- know what he or she won't like. Even if the dish contains something the child hasn't liked in the past (peas, let's say) what's to say she won't like the dish anyway? Maybe the combination of the other ingredients will set her off on a path of deciding she does, in fact, like peas?

Please, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, stop using this phrase if your child expresses an interest in trying a new food. That interest and curiosity alone is a huge step along the road to having a well-rounded, adventurous eater on your hands. Why discourage it? Aren't an adventurous spirit and willingness to try new things what you want? I know they are.

Instead, when your child says "What is that?" say something like, "It's asparagus with lemon and parmesan cheese. Give it a try!" Their curiosity coupled with your honest answer and enthusiasm just might be the magic combination necessary to help them feel confident to branch out and try new things. That's the best way for them to expand their palate. If you continually dissuade them from trying new foods by exclaiming that they won't like it, they will never feel confident in trying new things and you'll end up having to make the same meals over and over again for your family. That's no fun for anyone!

I know what you're saying. But what if it's too spicy? What if I know they will find it too sour or too sweet? If you know these things in advance, tell your child about it. "This is Aunt Mary's chili. It's a bit spicier than the way I make it, but I think it's delicious, Try a small bite and see what you think!" That way, you acknowledging the fact that the dish is spicier than what your child may be used to, but still encouraging them to try it by saying you think it is delicious, too.

Teaching our children to enjoy food and to be experimental with food is a major victory in many families. Set yourself up for success by removing the phrase "You won't like that." from your parental vocabulary.

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