I have 3 boys and therefore a question I get asked often from my clients is, ‘how do you get your kids to eat his vegetables?’ It sounds like an easy answer but I have had to put some reflection into our success in this area of parenting. Just so we’re clear, there are many other areas I suck at with parenting. Just ask my kids. But you only get 15 seconds of their responses.
At first, my response was, ‘that’s their only option.’ But it’s deeper than that.
The real answer is, ‘We don’t reward them for NOT eating their vegetables.’ I get a puzzled look from many. “What do you mean?”
I mean we don’t offer them rewards for not eating them. There’s no alternative meal. We don’t offer them more of the other stuff served at dinner. We don’t let them be excused from the dinner table because they refuse to eat. We don’t give them a snack later before bed because they said they’re hungry. We don’t offer tasty beverages like juices to fill their appetite. They don’t eat what’s served, they don’t eat. The body is far more intelligent in an underfed and overactive state than an overfed and under active state.
If they don’t want to eat their vegetables, they don’t. We don’t force them to eat them; we do serve them; we do encourage them to eat; but it’s clear that’s their only option, until breakfast the next day. I don’t care if they feel left out while a brother gets more of what he likes. That brother finished his vegetables and is getting rewarded. And my wife and I are united on this front.
So for the majority of the time, your kid not eating his or her vegetables is a YOU problem, not a kid problem. It’s often due to some guilt of deprivation. But just remember the body is way better equipped in an under fed state than an over fed one.
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