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15 Crazy Ways Parents Try to Get Their Kids to Eat

Jun 19 2014 - 10:11am

If you have one of those kids who will eat anything and everything that you put in front of them, this post is not for you. For everyone else who's ever struggled with getting a small child to finish a meal, you know how frustrating feeding time can be. This too shall pass, but for now check out a few of the tactics used by parents to get their picky eaters to eat.

Source: Flickr user David Goehring [1]

"Just try one bite."

Some days all we ask is just one bite. Just try one bite. One. Bite.

Source: Flickr user Eric Fleming [2]

"No dinner, no dessert."

The obesity epidemic is the last thing on the mind of parents struggling to get a child to eat. Enter the ultimate ace in the hole used by parents everywhere: If you don't eat your dinner, then you don't get dessert. Boom!

Source: Flickr user Brendan C [3]

"You have to sit there until you're done."

Standoffs are not uncommon between parents and tots at mealtimes. The little buggers simply do not want to eat, but parents must stay strong in this battle of wills.

Source: Flickr user David Goehring [4]

"Just dip it."

What's that? You'll eat your broccoli if I give you a little ketchup to dip it in? Here you go!

Source: Flickr user Andrew Stawarz [5]

"Let's play a game."

Kids seem to respond to making a game out of eating, so parents concoct silly little games that thrill the kids — but most importantly, the food gets eaten. There was a period of time when I would make silly animal sounds after every (single) bite my son would take.

Source: Flickr user Lars Plougmann [6]

"It'll give you big muscles."

Another go-to tactic used by parents worldwide is the lure of big muscles, like daddy, which only come from eating (obviously). Bonus points if you feel your child's muscles during mealtimes and tell him that you can tell they are growing.

Source: Flickr user Robbie Grubbs [7]

"Close your eyes."

Sometimes parents need to strategize with the tots on their plan of attack at mealtimes. That banana is too brown right there? Close your eyes. That chicken doesn't smell good? Plug your nose. Together, you'll get that food down.

Source: Flickr user Howard Dickins [8]

"Mickey Mouse's favorite food is _____."

Pick your tot's favorite character (or friend) and suggest that the food in question is also that character's favorite food. Oddly enough, it usually works.

Source: Flickr user David Goehring [9]

"No seconds until you eat everything."

Usually there is something on your child's plate that they do like, which they happily gobble up first and then ask for more (when they rest of the meal is left untouched). Seize the opportunity and offer more of the preferred food if and when the other parts of the meal are eaten as well.

Source: Flickr user Abigail Batchelder [10]

"I bet you can't eat all of that _____."

Ah, reverse psychology gets 'em every time. My personal favorite is, "That really looks like a big-boy dinner; I don't know if you can eat all that yet."

Source: Flickr user Ambernectar 13 [11]

"Who can finish their food first?"

I know that the author of Siblings Without Rivalry would frown highly on this technique, but when I'm in a pinch (or at my wit's end), I have been known to pin my tots against each other.

Source: Flickr user Janice Cullivan [12]

"No snacks for the rest of the day."

Kids love their snacks — and filling up on them prevents them from ever really feeling hungry. Use that to your advantage and hold their precious snacks hostage for the rest of the day.

Source: Flickr user bloomsberries [13]

"Look at the ocean!"

Presentation is everything for some kids. If you've got the time (and patience) to make their food into fun shapes/scenes, then go for it. You'll up your chances of having a struggle-free meal, and that's worth its weight in gold.

Source: Flickr user hawthorne_01 [14]

"Wow! You get to eat baby trees today!"

In my house, we call every kind of meat chicken, broccoli is referred to as baby trees, and so forth. Something as simple as hearing the name of a food can turn a toddler off, so be playful with the names and keep the peace at dinner.

Source: Flickr user Tim Samoff [15]

"If you're not done before the timer goes off, then _____."

Sometimes the mealtime issue is the time, or rather, the speed. Kids can be notoriously slow when it comes to eating, and this is not always a parent's dream. So set a timer, set the parameters, and let it go.

Source: Flickr user mlpeixoto [16]

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