Picky to curious? It is  possible!

Odile Archambault shares the account of her kids’ picky attitude towards food.

My kids are two little calves. Very cute mind you. But calves nonetheless.

They’re always drinking milk. The first thing my daughter says when she opens her eyes in the morning is, “MIIIILK, PUH-LEASE!” In the evening, before bedtime, even if teeth have been brushed and it’s really not the time, my son always manages to persuade me to let him drink “one last li’l sip, mommy.”

But when it comes to putting down their favourite drink to eat… Well, that’s something entirely different! On many occasions, my kids have turned up their nose at the food on their plates. I chalked it up to energetic little bodies that preferred to play, run, jump, sing or dance rather than sit down to eat.


— The sausage “aha!” moment —

But then I noticed that for certain foods, such as sausage, I never had any trouble getting them to clean up their plates with gusto.

As I watched them gobble down their meal one time, I said to myself, “If they’re able to eat, show a good appetite and sit at the table when I serve sausage, then maybe they are simply… acting up all the other times?!”

I had to face the facts: My daughter was pretending to be ill when she was eating that fruit… My son couldn’t eat shrimp without feigning choking. They were being picky.


— Searching for solutions —

I’d like to come off as brilliant and tell you that I succeeded the very first time, but the truth is, I went through a period of trial and error. So, in a deliberate act of public self-humiliation, here are six things that I tried for an antic-free dining room… strategies that all failed miserably.

1. Emotional manipulation
Have just a little bite to make mommy happy!
2. Scary stories
You won’t grow bigger if you don’t eat!
3. Lies
Mmmm… You should try this Brussels sprout… You’re going to love it!
4. Lies, “improved” version
Oh, have you seen daddy’s big muscles? He’s strong because he eats all his Brussels sprouts!

5. Honesty
No, it’s not very tasty, but it is very good for you!
6. Guilt
Do you know that there are children in the world who ARE STARVING?

My kids did not eat more. I, on the other hand, piled up the losses.


— My revelation —

Finally after months, I put my finger on my boo-boo: I was doing too much.

I was speaking too much. I was trying to “sell” them the food on their plates, and I was far from convincing.
That realization led me to my seventh – and finally successful – strategy: say nothing!  

I now simply tell them what food is on their plates. And, against all (my) expectations… It really works!
One year has passed since the sausage “aha!” moment, but my patience has been rewarded. Now, they are discovering and exploring on their own, which means they are increasingly curious at the table, and as a result… less picky!  

(Cue the sound effect: the sigh of a relieved mom)