Today, a friend of mine recounted an experience with one of her kids. She thinks her daughter has overheard her (mommy) saying that she (the child) is shy. Recently, she asked her daughter why she didn’t do something at school. Her daughter’s response was, “Mommy, I’m shy…” Mom immediately picked up on the fact that this is a label that might not be serving her daughter well, and made a plan to nip it in the bud!
This got me thinking about the “picky eater” label. I’ve had friends and family tell me in front of their child, “she won’t eat that…,” or “he’s a picky eater…” Yet that same child, with a new adult or in a new environment, will eat something that they haven’t or wouldn’t at home. Remember that toddlers’ reluctance to try new foods (“food neophobia”) is quite common, and that trial, multi-sensory exploration, and even refusal of food is part of toddler development and evolution.
Experts suggest that many children need ten or more exposures to a new food before acceptance can be achieved. Ten!! Starting today, what if every time you bring a veggie to the table, you bring it without worry or prejudice, forgetting every prior time they threw it on the ground, spit it out, or one-arm swiped it off of their tray. Imagine how much less stressful it could be for you, and the message your toddler may glean from your attitude… “He will totally eat this!” Let’s call it “veggies in the moment.”