It is normal for kids not to be as adventurous as adults when it comes to trying new foods; however, many kids just refuse to try anything new, and this can be very frustrating to parents.
Some households have the “one bite rule” or a “no thank you” rule and other similar tactics that while they are successful for some, they simply do not work for many parents of picky eaters.
After surveying our first group of parents in our P.E.A.S. Course, where we help parents create a better mealtime environment with a framework to follow to help their food averse kids try new foods; we’ve found that the following tips from our strategies were most helpful:
#1 Start Very Small
It’s easy for kids to get overwhelmed with a lot of something new on their plate. If you are going to plate food for your child, start very, very, small.
Most parents serve their kids portions that are too large and these can easily overwhelm the child. The easiest thing for the child to do is to avoid trying said food. Smaller portions and let the child serve himself.
#2 Scale Back on Snacks
It’s easy to think that our kids have very small portions during snack time and that these surely can’t have much effect on the meal. Wrong! It turns out, that if you sit down to do a food journal for 3 days for all portions and foods our kids eat and drink, you’ll notice that they are often grazing throughout the day, making them less hungry at mealtime.
Creating a mealtime schedule is vital to avoid grazing and snacking too close to meal time. Try to assess a good time to cut back on snacks so that your child can have an appetite for his meals.
#3 Create a Positive, No-Pressure Environment
Many kids refuse to try foods because they are afraid of disappointing us when they truly don’t’ like something. Or worse, parents have built up so much pressure to trying something by “taking a bite” that a child literally gets stage fright from the pressure.
Pressuring our kids to eat or try new things is not a long term solution. Instead, it causes the child to feel angst towards unfamiliar foods. Creating a no-pressure environment is key for long term success.
#4 Eliminate “One-bite” Rules
Food should be enjoyed and seen as positive for our bodies, and creating rules around food only puts more pressure on the child at mealtime. There is no point in making the child take a bite when his mind isn’t open to enjoying the food. Instead, let them select how much of each item he will eat of the foods served.
#5 Invite Friends Over that Eat More Foods
Parents can influence what a child tries merely by their selection of the foods made and how parents approach food, but no one can make a bigger difference than the child’s friends. Sometimes, all it takes is for a friend to eat a piece of broccoli with a delicious dip for your child to try it. While your child might not like the broccoli, he got over the hump of trying it.