My kids aren’t picky – luckily – and they have a good appetite. However, time to time, when they are offered new food or dishes, they might be reluctant to try. My son is a little bit sensitive to smell and texture in taste. My daughter, might refuse either to imitate her brother, or just because she’s decided so. It sometimes works other way around, and she wants to eat something, just to do what her brother does.
In these cases, we have a “taste it once” rule in our home. We also call it “try it once” rule.
We explain that they might not know whether they’ll like to food or not, without tasting it first. We describe the food or the dish. We try to give examples of similar dishes and flavors they like. We also remind them the times, when they were reluctant to try and liked something after tasting it.
We never offer a reward or punish based on this rule. We might try to entice them by saying “You are missing a delicious food”, “mmm yummy!!”, “Look, your brother/sister tried and (s)he liked it.” When we serve a new food or dish, we keep the portions small – which is my husband’s tip – so as not to scare them off.
My daughter and son, have certain foods that they dislike. Few, but they just don’t like these and we don’t push back. Besides those few items, we apply this rule to every new food. They are used to the rule, so even sometimes unwillingly they try it.
If they seem really adamant about not trying, we try not to turn the situation it a struggle of powers. Especially, my daughter is very determined and hard to manipulate. Or at least, she trained us that way.
With this rule we try to assert two ideas to our kids:
- They should decide that they like something or not, only after giving it a try. In general, we encourage them to try new things, as long as they are sure it’s safe.
- They do not have wide variety of choices like in a restaurant when it comes to eating at home. They need to eat whatever is cooked and served.
We know and accept that everyone has likes and dislikes when it comes to food. We try to cook balanced meals, taking these likes and dislikes into consideration. However, there is not a huge negotiation margin and definitely refusing to eat what is served and ordering another meal is not an option.
In summary, this rule helped us avoid situations where we end up complaining that “our kids do not eat anything other than XXXX”.
This rule is pretty easy to enforce, when put in place at younger ages.