This is the most common question I hear from frustrated parents, anxiously waiting for their child to finally start branching out. We all want our children to eat in a more “grown-up”, balanced way with more variety and nutrition on their plates.
But let me make a confession.
Do you know how long it took my kids to learn to like spicy chicken curry dishes?
ALMOST TWO YEARS.
Two years of weekly exposure through school meals and at home. Before we moved to the UK, curry dishes were not very common in our family repertoire, unless we were going to an Indian restaurant and then the kids would only eat naan there. 🙂
And now they are begging for me to cook spicy curries at home. I love it because curry is one of my favorite dishes.
But guess what? I was absolutely prepared to wait for much longer until they joined me for a spicy treat.
Because whatever you really want your child to learn to like, it may take anywhere from a couple of days to a few years.
So do not hold your breath and focus on the things that are much more important than the nutritional benefits of xyz you cannot wait for your child to partake.
THE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO IN THE MEANTIME
1. First of all, enjoy your own meals, of course! Provide regular opportunities to eat for everyone, including yourself (I know that you often put your own needs on the back burner). Make sure to stop running around the kitchen accommodating last-minute requests and just sit down and eat with everyone.
2. Provide a variety, but do not stress too much about any rigid rules of “all colors of the rainbow” or “no same food for two days.” I just had the same bowl of cereal for breakfast as yesterday. And the day before. And before that, I think. It is ok, I promise.
3. “Close” the kitchen between scheduled eating opportunities. Save your sanity and teach your kids some good eating habits. No grabbing random stuff from cupboard shelves in between meals. NO. Not going to happen. Because YOU said so.
4. As you are busy enjoying your own meal, you will certainly NOT have time to bug your kids about two more spoons of this or trying a bite of that. You have yourself to nourish. They can take care of themselves, once you put the meal on the table.
5. That said, ALWAYS have something on the table your kids can fill up on in case the main dish is still a challenge. Do you want me to tell you about countless dinners consisting of rice only before my kids learned to like chicken curry? You probably don’t 🙂