It’s no surprise my 5-year-old son is a picky eater.
My general approach to getting him to eat is what I learned from my own mother. She had a rule that you had to eat at least one bite of each item on your plate before you could be excused from the table. You didn’t have to clean your plate, but you did have to try a little of everything.
This approach has worked on my son. He is always compliant with the rule of eating one bite of everything, even veggies. Except I noticed that even if he claims to like some foods, he will still only have a single bite and then ask to be excused. It would seem I had conditioned him to satisfy the minimum requirement instead of satisfying his hunger.
The other evening, I made a dish that I had made countless times before. Chicken tossed in cornmeal and sauteed, with a soy-lime-white-wine sauce. It’s been established that my son doesn’t like the sauce, so I normally cut up the unsauced chicken and watch him eat a perfunctory bite.
That day, I had a stroke of inspiration. I cut up the chicken and told him it was Chicken Nuggets. He smiled and looked at me expectantly. “Would you like some ketchup?” I asked, even though my stomach turned at the thought of it. “Yes, please,” he said, and then after I provided it, to my amazement, he gobbled up all the chicken on his plate.
How might you make change more palatable to the people going through it?
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