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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Helping Kids Learn to Try

Try it...Go on. You can do it!
Today's a big day. Our four year old read Green Eggs and Ham completely on his own. He's been growing his reading skills but tonight the knowledge of sight words, the ability to sound out new words and the confidence to try combined in a moment of glory.

I praise my kids a lot and when I do, I focus on the effort they gave and the determination they showed, rather than just their success.

By focusing on their effort and they fact they didn't give up, my husband and I hope to foster an environment where our kids are brave enough to try lots of new things.

A collection of liked food.
Of course, the name of this blog comes from Green Eggs and Ham, the lines right before the unnamed main character tries the unusual food - and discovers he loves it. It captures that scary moment right before you do something new (like SCUBA diving) and hints at the thrills you might discover.

Trying new foods is hard for many people, not just kids. But one of my most popular tips for 30SecondMom highlights our Food Notebook. A counselor suggested we encourage our 4 year old to keep track of foods he didn't like and foods he liked, in a brand-new notebook of his choosing. We added the section on "foods he's not sure he likes."

It's really more of a memory problem combined with pickiness and uncertainty.

Take sweet potato fries. They look very different from regular fries and my 4 year old was scared to try them - but a little ranch dressing tempted him. He loved them!

Self-portrait of a kid who likes salmon & naan.
When we served them again later, he refused to eat them. We told a small fib and said he'd written them in his food notebook (he hadn't) and loved them (he had). Soon the entire portion of fries disappeared!

So, his pickiness isn't gone completely but there's a definite decrease in battles to get him to eat food he's already tried and enjoyed.

A lot of parents know it takes around 10 times of trying a new food for a child to develop a taste and enjoy it. That's not true for every kid, or every food.

But developing the attitude, the willingness to try something new - how many times do we need to make ourselves try new things before we develop that habit?
Even superheroes in disguise try new food


  1. This notebook idea is great! it's an ongoing battle to get my 4-yr old daughter to try new foods, and we're a family of adventurous eaters. She used to like sweet potato fries, too... sigh.

  2. Thanks Traci. It is still working for us after several months of use. Just yesterday my 4 year old added "Nutella" to his notebook and I'm shocked to report he has tried Nutella probably 4-5 times but last night when he had it on a bagel, he liked it and put it in the book! And two nights I ago, I cut eggplant into cubes, breaded them, fried them. Everyone else ate them with marinara, he ate them with ketchup - BUT he ATE them!! They are also in the notebook! I'm actually putting together a little food notebook project that will be available soon...!