Friday, 13th June 2014
I run a preschool where we try to grow our own vegetables and teach children the importance of eating well. But just like any other mother out there, there are days where my toddlers will do nothing but throw their broccoli to the ground, before loudly proclaiming they’re not having any of it.
Yes, you can cajole. You can sit with them for a whole hour if need be. And you can even go to extremes like hiding the veggies in their favourite food – I will be the first to admit that I’ve been there, done that. But here’s my take on trying to get our children to eat vegetables: just because they’ve refused it 10 times does not mean they’re not going to eat it for the rest of their lives.
I could easily reveal ways of getting children to eat vegetables, like “hiding” it in soups and dips, or making vegetable pizza for dinner. But I won’t, because not only am I sure you’re already familiar with these methods, I also think that there’s too much pressure for parents to constantly deliver 24/7. And we all know we need a break.
At The Garden House preschool, we introduce our children to a variety of fruit and vegetables, and I think that’s really the key to getting children eating well. You need to constantly expose and introduce them to the food. They might refuse it the first time or the tenth time, but constant exposure will lead to eventual tasting.
My own children used to hate guava. As someone who can survive on nothing but guava (perhaps I’m taking this too far, but I do love the fruit), I could never understand why they hated it so much. I used to persuade them – even beg them – to just try it, but we all know there’s no talking sense into toddlers sometimes. But one day, after months of them watching me enjoy guava, they asked to try it – on their own accord. And they slowly began to take to it. On the flip side, I don’t fancy berries that much and my children have picked up on this – they too pick at their strawberries when they have them in school.
Children learn so much from us, which is why it’s important to practice what you preach, especially with the younger ones. If you want your children to eat your vegetables, you need to show them you eat them too. And you always need to offer it to them on their plates. There are days where I’m so tired from running after my children I don’t really care whether or not they want their vegetables at dinner. I’m not going to make a fuss just because they refuse a carrot or two. But, and I cannot emphasize this enough, always keep it in their line of sight. That will make the difference eventually.