As parents, we’ll try anything to get our kids to eat right. There are so many tips and tricks out there and even bestselling cookbooks that help hide veggies in meals. For some parents, these approaches may be very effective. For others though, nothing seems to work. If you are the latter category, we found an unconventional approach that has worked surprisingly well.
I have often admitted within my blog posts that I’m not an expert parent – just trying to become one. Because of this trial-and-error method, there might be valid critiques to this approach and I’d encourage any such comments. With that in mind however, I offer up The Vegetable Scheme, which is entirely attributable to my brilliant wife.
My kids are well-aware of the value of fruits and vegetables – reenforced both at their preschool and at home. They know that these foods make them healthy, strong, and help them grow. Such knowledge, however, does not seem to provide enough incentive for them to embrace consistently eating them. They need a nudge in the right direction, which now comes primarily from a combination of reverse psychology and good cop/bad cop. We don’t do this in a devious way, however, but rather as a light-hearted game of sorts.
Quite playfully, my wife (the bad cop) tells the kids they are getting too big and strong, and growing too fast. She tells me (the good cop) at the dinner table that I should stop giving them fruits and vegetables so they can always be her beautiful little babies. The kids giggle and adamantly claim that they are big kids now. I whisper to each of them that they can still eat their vegetables but we just won’t tell mom. They love the notion of having a secret, despite how obvious it is that it’s more of a game.
With broccoli on their plates that would previously have gone relatively untouched, they now have that nudge they need, coming in the form of playful rebellion. Eating vegetables has become mischievous. They even devised their own way of disguising their would-be treachery. Giggling adorably, they tell their mom to look at something on the counter behind her. She turns in a slow and deliberate manner, taking her time. All the while, those florets disappear into their mouths until she turns back around. They even take it further, reaching over and swiping some off her plate, giggling through their broccoli-ridden teeth as she acts incredulous at the vegetables’ disappearance.
Given the prevalence of tips that suggest just getting kids to try just a bite at first, or suggesting that kids will have a greater tendency to eat foods once they have tried them several times, The Vegetable Scheme is certainly accomplishing these steps quite well. It has also been quite fun for all of us, while our kids sometimes eat their vegetables first, eliminating the often-used “too full” excuse later in the meal.
Perhaps The Vegetable Scheme may seem too devious to some or have unforeseen downsides, but the fact is that it has been quite effective for us. It replaces the stigma of vegetables and makes eating them more of a game. And so, if increasing their vegetable intake and/or trying new foods are the overarching goals, The Vegetable Scheme has worked like a charm.