Every parent knows how stressful it can be to try to get your kids to eat their veggies. One recent study found that 30 percent of toddlers don’t eat vegetables on a daily basis, while many young children go for days without eating any vegetables.
That’s kind of scary, right? We all know how important vegetables are for growing children, yet we also know that forcing kids to eat their greens doesn’t work in the long run, and that battling over food can actually harm both the parent-child bond and your child’s relationship with food.
“These types of power plays create an adversarial relationship between the two of you and turn the entire process of eating into even more of a negative experience for your child,” child psychologist Dr. Tamar Kahane told Parents.
So what should a parent do instead? Well, we might just have the answer.
This handy tip comes to us from writer Lauren Tamm over at The Military Wife and Mom blog. Tamm is no stranger to picky kids who seem to skip veggies in favor of everything else, so that’s why she decided to try a bit of an unconventional approach to get her children to eat their vegetables.
“I decided to try a method from Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota,” Tamm wrote on her blog. “She’s been studying eating habits for more than 20 years, and she says that in order to get your kids to eat vegetables you have to remove the vegetable’s competition.”
Tamm said this strategy is called “get alone with the vegetable” … which sounds kind of sensual, to be honest. But in all seriousness, the plan is simple. Rather than put broccoli or carrots on the plate next to your child’s pasta or chicken, you serve it to them before dinner, when they are hungry and begging for a snack.
For example, when you are putting the finishing touches on dinner and your kids keep saying how “hungggrryyyyyy” they are, you could put out a tray of veggie sticks on the table and tell them, “If you’re hungry, enjoy these snacks while I finish cooking.”
Then, let them nosh as they see fit while they play or do homework until dinner. The end result?
“And to my happiest surprise, my kids would walk up to the table munch on a few carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and sometimes even broccoli in between play. One evening my daughter ate half a bag of carrots!” Tamm wrote of the strategy. “Looking at the big picture, they were eating far more vegetables than before.”
Wow. That sounds pretty simple. What do you think of this ingenious idea?