Friday, October 24, 2008

Kids Love To Eat What Kids Don't Want To Eat

This always cracks me up. I don't know how many times I have tried to get my little girl to try and eat something new. I don't even mean something healthy necessarily. I would just love for her to try something. Of course, I would much rather her eat healthy foods but at the same time I would love to see her explore all kinds of good food choices.

The other night we went out to this great Japanese place to eat where you order a couple dishes at a time. Once you finish those dishes, you order more of whatever you want. It is a single price, just like a buffet, but you get served. It is a great idea because if you are like me, buffets are difficult. I 'm not a big fan of taking food from a dish that had been in the "public domain." I will admit I'm a little OCD that way.

Anyway, we brought my five year old daughter along because she really enjoys beef teriyaki with rice. She asks for it by name when we are at home and she knows the place she likes to go to to get it.

We ordered her the dish she enjoyed and we started ordering stuff for ourselves. One of the dishes we ordered was shrimp tempura. For those of you who have had it before, it is delicious. It is one of those things that if you like it, you really like it. You probably shouldn't eat too much of it but it is really good.

When the waitress brought the dish to our table, my little girl looked up from her beef teriyaki and asked "What is that?" She had a stern look of disgust on her face. I explained to her it was shrimp tempura and that she should try it because it was delicious. She just shook her head and said she didn't like it. I of course came back at her with the classic "How do you know you don't like it if you never even tried it?" I hate that one. My parents used to use it on me. It used to drive me crazy.

Regardless, she just insisted she didn't like it and wasn't going to try it. I tried to change her mind by pointing out that it was really good because it came with this sauce that was sweet and it made it extra tasty. She didn't care if we covered it in chocolate sauce (which she loves) she wasn't having any of it.

Not to long after this exchange, the waitress came by and saw me trying to coax my daughter into trying to taste another dish that we had ordered. I think it was some chow mein dish or something. I get confused sometimes in those places. I don't remember the names of most of the stuff, I just remember if it tastes good.

Anyway, the waitress ended up stepping next to my daughter and explained to her that her son loved the shrimp tempura and that it was his favorite thing on their menu. She went on to say that she wished her son would eat other things but that dish was definitely his favorite. My daughter was giving her a cute smile of recognition and then looked over at me as if I had paid the waitress to say that. In fact, I was just as surprised as my little girl.

The next thing I knew, my daughter was breaking off a piece of the shrimp tempura and dipping it in the sauce. "Mmm daddy this is really good," she said. Imagine that. Score one for the parents. More amazing though was something that I noticed. As her father, trying to get her to try something, it is as if she has some built in mechanism to challenge me. It didn't seem to matter that she would have loved the shrimp, she was just determined not to eat it because I was trying to get her to eat it. When an unknown third party stepped in with the recommendation, there was no stopping her. It was an interesting study in psychology and one that I have continued to use in the way I approach her trying new things.

Check out this blog soon because I will include a story I have found about a school that has implemented this very same technique in getting young kids to explore healthy food choices they normally would not touch. See you soon.

p.s. now she only wants the shrimp tempura.

1 comment:

tartetartan said...

I have similar issues with my son. All he ever says at the moment is "i don't like that" and like your little girl he hasn't even tried it. I just let him get on with it and say if he doesn't eat there isn't anything else until the next meal. It usually works, but I get sick of saying the same thing nearly every mealtime. Though, once, when we were eating at a chinese style buffet he helped himself to frogs legs. I asked him if he knew what they were and he said yes, he liked them (yeeeuch). Now if I had meade him try to eat them, that would have been a different thing altogether. Am off to hunt out that post about that school now (if you have written it?) Thanks for your kind note on my blog. TTx