A little girl named Goldilocks went for a walk. She came across three plates of food. The first looked like this:
It didn’t look easy. It didn’t look nice. It made her feel bored and didn’t entice.
You see, Goldilocks is so interested in the world around her that it takes a good-looking meal to draw her to the table and hold her attention.
She moved to the second plate of food:
It looked too soft. It looked too chewy. It looked like hard work and the smell made her gooey.
Goldilocks is still developing her tastebuds and jaw muscles. Sometimes she is not in the mood for something that is hard to chew.
She moved to the third plate of food:
“I can chew that. The smell doesn’t linger. The vegetables I can pick up and dip with my fingers.”
She began to eat. As if by magic, three bears appeared at the house and sat down beside her to eat. The talked about their walk and asked her about her day. Goldilocks chatted away. Then she stopped. She looked at her rice and then looked at them with confusion. Daddy Bear served himself some rice and used a spoon to move it to his mouth. Goldilocks studied him carefully and then tried it herself. You see, role modelling is one of the most important things a parent can do for their child around food. In the same way a child will copy you with how to kick a football, they will use you as a role model on how to eat.
When dinner was over, Goldilocks skipped away, thinking how clever she was to have chosen what she ate for dinner.
But back at the house, peeping through the curtain, Mummy Bear smiled to herself. You see, she had been the one who chose what to put on the plates. She had been the one who was really in charge of what Goldilocks ate. And that makes for a happy ending.
Incredibly I’ve met Goldilocks. More than once she has come into my rooms with her exasperated parents. Food has that effect.
If you know Goldilocks too, perhaps try one of these:
- A self-serve dinner. Include things your child likes so you feel assured they’ll eat too. Putting your child in charge of serving themselves something new is a great way for it to happen.
- Role model eating a variety of foods at a family meal whenever you can.
- Help a really stuck child feel safe with change by making gradual changes with either taste or texture, not both. For example, long spaghetti pasta instead of penne.
- Offer new foods at a time your child is most hungry.
- Balance “sneaking” in vegetables, such as grating them into a sauce, with overt exposure. It’s normal to eat vegetables at dinner and nothing wrong with a child learning that.
- Offer young kids easy to pick up and easy to chew foods such as minced meat, cubed vegetables, sliced fruit, small pieces of pasta.