How To Motivate Kids To Eat Better (Guest Post: Tanja Teofilovic)

There are all kinds of approaches to parenthood, more or less liberal or traditional. Regardless of your method of choice or your lifestyle, you are surely interested in making sure your child eats well. It’s a fact of life that the good-quality and varied diet is an important factor in the development of children. Some kids would eat anything you put on the table, without ever making it an issue. They’ll empty their plates in no time and ask for more. But, this post is not about them.

It is about the other kids:

Those who are never hungry.

Those who always say “yuck” whatever you give them.

Those who would eat sweets all day.

Those who have to be chased around the house and begged to grab a bite.

There are various ways in which you can make children eat better. A proper diet is not something that should be negotiable or even discussed with children. Besides, anyone who has ever tried to make fair deals with children has surely realized that such deals are broken in a blink of an eye. An adequate diet and good night’s sleep are key to a child’s good health. These are the two things that I would always pursue, and all methods are allowed. Thankfully, my daughter likes eating, but she is not ecstatic about everything I put on her plate.

In order to keep her healthy, I use all kinds of tactics, such as:

She always eats at the table and sits on a special chair for kids because the chair was designed to make it more difficult for kids to escape.  In case she refuses to eat, I threaten to take her favorite toys back to the shop.

If she eats the whole meal she’ll be rewarded with a candy.

Lying shamelessly (unfortunately, you’ll have to resort to this sometimes):

– If you eat all carrots, your hair will be long and shiny. (In fact, this doesn’t work anymore because she’s learned that carrots are good for the eyes, not for the hair. Still, it may be worth a try, depending on your child’s age and level of world knowledge.)
– I just saw Santa peering through the window. He won’t bring you anything if you don’t eat it all.
– Spinach is Eliza’s favorite food.
– Princess Moana loves soup. That’s why she’s so gorgeous.

Let your imagination go wild.

I know these recommendations might make you laugh, but I swear I have applied all these methods successfully for a number of years. I know that the time will come when such motivation will become pointless and useless. But, making sure that your child is accustomed to eating regular, healthy meals is invaluable.

You can’t reason with small children and explain why eating well is important, but you can make sure they acquire healthy habits early in life. Once they get used to a wholesome diet, they won’t avoid the food which is absolutely necessary for their development. You will then be in the position to allow them some freedom to choose the type and quantity of food they want to eat.

If you persist in maintaining an appropriate diet, your child will develop a habit and choose such food spontaneously, so you’ll have nothing to worry about.

About the Author: Tanja is a mother, a  Philanthropist. She loves writing and photography.ion. You can check her website here.

9 thoughts on “How To Motivate Kids To Eat Better (Guest Post: Tanja Teofilovic)

  1. I just saw the comment about having good eaters as toddlers and becoming more fussy as they get older and I nearly had a heart attack. I have one good eater and if she turns into a fussy eater I may just abandon feeding them altogether 🙂

    It is so hard getting a fussy eater to eat and I too have threatened to take the toys back to the shops.

    I think the most important lesson here is that it shouldn’t be negotiable and maybe when we were still new parents we made the mistake of making things negotiable so now our fussy eater thinks he can negotiate everything.

  2. I think kids can grow out of fussiness. My boy was a fussy eater, but now he wants to try everything.

  3. I have found that threatening (e.g. I’ll take away your toys) backfires with my kids, who are fussy eaters. Instead, I encourage my kids to take “adventure bites,” remind them of the Daniel Tiger song “You gotta try new foods ’cause they might taste good!” and remind them they can say “no thank you” if they don’t care for the food after trying it. It sure takes off some of the pressure, and I figure they’ll eventually learn to like new foods.

  4. “A proper diet is not something that should be negotiable or even discussed with children.”

    So true!!! There is room for consultation (what wkinf of salad or should we have chicken or fish tonight) but definitely no negotiation. Great post. Thank you!

  5. I found it easier to get my children to eat when they were toddlers. Unfortunately as they’ve started school they’ve got fussier!

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