It is every parent’s familiar battle. The dreaded dinner time groans of ‘But I Don’t Like It’!! Even though they happily munched on their carrots six months ago, now even the smallest nibbles of broccoli seem impossible! But do not fear. As with many things in their early years, their dislike of vegetables and all-things-healthy is a passing phase and in the meantime here are some simple suggestions to help sneak in their five a day.
1. Practice what you preach
Children learn through imitation and you are their main role model. If you regularly reach for that apple, pour yourself a cool class of water and make enjoyable noises as you munch your way through your lettuce bowl, your child is much more likely to follow your example.
2. Don’t use bribes
Children learn negative associations very quickly so every time you tell her that she can’t go outside and play until she eats her cabbage, well her mental association with cabbage very quickly becomes a bad one. Why on earth would she want to eat this green thing that prevents her from doing all the fun things that she wants to do?! Instead, try telling her that once she’s finished eating she’ll be able to play even longer because she will be fueled with lots of energy!
3. Disguise what they are eating
Every child loves a cool, thick smoothie but they do not need to know that along with the fruity banana they can taste is a blended concoction of spinach and cucumber. Be inventive! Add in shots of veg when they aren’t looking.
4. Let the children get involved
Yes it requires patience and probably a little more cleaning up after, but it is worth it! Pull them up a chair, give them their own apron and let them get their hands messy!! Children are much more likely to willingly eat their dinner when they have had a say in what it is and how it’s been made.
5. Make meal time special
The old saying ‘the family that eats together stays together’ couldn’t be more prominent in today’s technology-fueled world. Make sure you take the time to make tea time special. Set the table, sit in the same seats and talk!! Make it a time of day that everyone enjoys