Do you wish your children ate a more varied diet? That every time you gave them something new there weren’t shrieks of agony and howls of despair? Do you dream of a day when you can sit down to a quiet, tranquil family meal with something NEW and your children say “why thank you honourable parent, this looks delicious!” Or perhaps just “thanks”? Or even a grunt that meant they were contemplating eating it?
It’s difficult getting children to try new things. They don’t like new things. It’s a fact (there’s a theory that it’s a survival trait, to stop us eating poisonous things back in the day when we picked berries and ate nuts and hunted roaming hefferlumps).
The point is children don’t like new things so when you present them with something new, don’t expect them to like it. Actually, I’m not joking. If you stop expecting them to like it, you’ll stop getting frustrated when they don’t. And pressure isn’t a good thing when it comes to getting children to eat, new things or otherwise.
So, how do you get them to like new things?
Do you ram it down their poor little throat?
If I could give you the 4 most important bits of advice, this is what I’d say:
- No pressure. If they don’t want to eat it they don’t have too.
- Serve everyone the same and allow them to leave what they don’t want.
- Give small portions of the new thing. Think tiny tiny tiny.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This is the theory of exposure. It takes 10 -15 times for you to decide whether you like something or not.
Before that, it generally rejected because it’s unknown. You can change that by presenting them with the new thing again and again again. Until it stops being new and is now ‘familiar’ and hopefully ‘accepted’ (they do actually have to try the food for it to count as an exposure… sometimes you have to have a few goes before they’ll try it).
Remember, no pressure. A negative experience can make food neophobia (being scared of new foods) more enforced. You’ll need to work even harder if that happens.
Introducing children to new foods takes patience and perseverance. Keep at it and in time your children will be eating a more varied diet…without those shrieks of agony.