Picky Eater | Allow Kids To Fail

2010 September 16
by Carissa

Sometimes letting a kid own his mistake, knowing he will learn from it is the best policy.

From experience I can tell you it’s much harder on the parents! And then making the decision NOT to give him a second chance was even worse. But watching the progress a 6yrold makes after learning a very hard lesson, was worth all the tears.

It’s dinner time in the Rogers’ household. Surprise suprise there’s veggies as part of dinner! What a shock? Hello, we only have some sort of fruit or veggie with EVERY meal, so why is it my 6yrold has slowly gotten worse and worse about eating anything with crunch, or texture, or COLOR! It’s been driving me nuts for a long time now.

This particular night, the side dish was a simple frozen veggie/potato combo. The one thing he can’t stand, is potatoes. I’m talking, make him sit there til he eats one bite and then watch him gag back into his mouth. Not once… many times. (I’m mean that way.) After years of this we’ve all agreed: He hates potatoes. (Let’s not talk about how it pains me as a girl from Idaho that my kid especially hates homemade mashed taters and gravy!)

I decide not to inflict him with the potatoes this particular night. I can only take so many table gags. He has the option instead of 3 mini carrots. But the caveat is he has to eat every one of them (yes dipped in ranch!) in order to go out with the family for Family Home Evening (Mormon speak for a weekly family night almost always held on Monday nights). He whines, I cajole, and he takes a couple flea sized bites.

And then… it’s over? He comes walking out and says he’s ready for Baskin Robbins… huh? My mom-BS-O-meter goes off. I ask him: Did you throw the carrots in the garbage… “No” he sheepishly replies…. (his body language has already given him away). I ask him: if I look in the garbage right now, would I find all your carrots? … Hesitation…. “No”…

I start talking very slowly, and in my most quiet, You-are-in-big-trouble voice.

I make it very clear I will be staying home with him, while the rest of the family heads out for a treat. Little boy crocodile tears start up, and… the rest of the night is pretty much ruined. I send him to his room, he cries more.

And then.

He gets a wonderful idea. A brilliant 6yrold plan. He tells me: “Mom, I will get 3 new carrots and eat them!  Then we can all go out okay?”

What should I do?

What would you do?

Remember, it’s been months. He’s getting worse and worse. Eating less and less diverse foods. If I give in, it feels like the only reason he’ll be eating those stupid carrots is to get ice cream! Seems like a TERRIBLE reason to me?? And when I tell him (still in my quiet mom empathetic voice) “sorry little man, you made your choice, you don’t get a second chance here”, THIS is when all hell brakes loose, and his world has officially crashed down around him. There is no joy in Mudville.

You get the picture. The rest of the night is destroyed. Family night has been canceled. He was still quite distraught when he went to sleep.


The next night, guess what we had for dinner? ZUCCHINI casserole. Guess who helped stir and pour and make it? YUP. The boy child. Guess who ate his textured, green, many flavors at once dinner? First I’ll tell you my dang older kids were the ones complaining! OY. But the 6yrold?? HE ATE ZUCCHINI.

Amen. Worth every tear.

Photo of TK taken by the amazing Marcel Walker. Recipe of casserole will be featured tomorrow.

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4 Responses
  1. Naoni permalink
    September 16, 2010

    Awesome!!!! Yep he’s related to my Boy! But it still happens around here! Mine hasn’t been cured yet! Zucchini casserole has been poop pooped by T because of the “Mushrooms” they are so stinkin’ small!!

  2. September 16, 2010

    I think you did the perfect thing. Have you ever taken the Love and Logic course for parenting? That is exactly what we learned how to treat that kind of a situation. The zuchinni casserole, now that looks interesting. I want to see the recipe.

  3. September 17, 2010

    You handled this amazingly… and while sacrificing ice cream for an evening of unhappy wails must have been pretty painful all around, how incredible that he emerged with a new, entirely self-directed, perspective on those pesky vegetables… way to go!

    Totally understand that on principle you want your son to experience a range of veggies, learn what he likes and understand the importance of a healthy balance… but if things get dire I have seen some pretty diabolical recipes that pack in the veggies unbeknowst to your little eaters… (pureed squash in mac and cheese, broccoli in your burgers…) just to keep your back pocket 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this great story, and the zucchini casserole sounds delish (with or without ice cream for dessert!)
    Twitter: smartplayblog

  4. September 17, 2010

    I would fall into “sit at your chair until you eat EVERY last veggie” category. In fact I have a photo of my youngest falling asleep at his plate because he was being so stubborn.

    I am proud of you for sticking to your guns. Seriously, it is times like that when being a parent is the most difficult. But the rewards are great… look at what happened the next night.
    Twitter: sahans

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