You want your little one to eat their vegetables. They on the other hand, don’t.
So…. getting those vegetables down, requires some kind of strategy. The most common approach is to emphasize the nutritional value of the food. After all, the only reason many parents eat broccoli, is because it is guards the gut highway and fights cancer.
Statements along the lines of….
Eat your broccoli, it will make you BIG and STRONG.
are routine at the dinner table.
So do these statements work ?
If you’re selling the virtues of broccoli to a 2 year old – the short answer is NO.
Broccoli is good translated
Ironically, the big song and dance, bestowing super powers to broccoli, ends up doing the opposite of what you hoped for.
Your child hears…..
Broccoli tastes awful.
And of course, it does – it is bitter. Genes determine just how awful it tastes, so for some people, like me, it is absolutely vile, even when you’re all grown up.
Food classification systems
It turns out, little kids ability to categorize foods is limited. Unlike adults, they only have two categories….
- GOOD – which loosely translated means, tastes NICE. I’ll eat it.
- BAD – which loosely translated means, YUK. No way will I eat it.
It seems, a certain amount of brain development is required, to expand the classification system. So as kids get older (at least theoretically) …… new options and variations appear, like
- GOOD FOR ME – this loosely translated means, it really does not taste great, but I want to be BIG and STRONG, aka. I want to be like batman and/or live long and prosper, so I’ll eat it.
- NEUTRAL – this loosely translated means, it is not great, but I can eat it, because I don’t want to starve to death
- IT IS FOOD – this loosely translated means, I am so freaked out right now, putting something, anything in my mouth is comforting and de-stressing, so I’ll eat it.
So GOOD FOR ME, works for 10 year olds and husbands, but it is not a particularly effective strategy for two year olds.
This is the conclusion of a team of researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business…..
I just want GOOD
The team conducted a series of experiments with 270 pre-schoolers, at story time. A special story was told to the kids, this was then followed by an opportunity to tuck into a special snack related to the story. The team documented how much of the snack, was snacked on.
The basic premise of the special story, was a little girl had some food for a snack. Variations of the story, changed the context of the snack.
- One version emphasized the nutritional benefits.
- One version emphasized the taste
- One version just portrayed the snack as food.
When the food was portrayed as especially HEALTHY, the kids passed on the snack provided at the end of story time. They were happy to snack on snacks painted as tasty or foodie.
Healthy was the turn off. Oops…..
Popeye is dead
To two year olds.
Not only do most modern kids not have a clue, who this spinach munching superhero is, they’re not motivated by promises of super strength.
They just want food that tastes GOOD.
Time for a strategy change ?
Since you really do need to help your child, eat foods that are nutritious i.e. GOOD FOR THEM, it might be time to change tactics.
STOP, selling IT IS GOOD FOR YOU.
Either say nothing at all, or do your best to make it taste GOOD, and then sell how good it tastes. In the case of broccoli, it can be done, but it will require the deployment of a cloaking device.
NOTE : Use age as a guide as to what strategy to use and remember to start early.
|You can’t order your child to eat better||The danger of “finish your broccoli or else”||A meal without vegetables is like a present without a bow|
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