Mothers experience a multitude of embarrassing moments; one of the worst can be when our children declare their distaste for dinner in front of friends and family! To keep these moments from happening—or at least happening less—we can help our little ones turn their own food leaf and expand their culinary confidence.
Here are a few tips to help your children along as they build confidence around food… even food they don’t care for.
Take yourself out of the equation How often do you decide when your child will like or dislike a certain food? Give your child’s palate the benefit of the doubt. If a child is used to bland or commercially prepared food, tasting fresh ingredients is going to shake things up. Just because your child doesn’t care for a food experience now doesn’t mean he won’t develop a taste for it later. If you don’t succeed immediately, be persistent.
Change the vocabulary Be wary of asking your children whether or not they like the food you’ve served them. If a child is allowed to be critical of food at home, she’s likely to be critical at a friend’s house. Use your mealtimes as a practice ground not only to try new foods, but also to work on responses by complimenting the cook or keeping thoughts to themselves.
Involve them in the planning process Allow your children to take part in some of the meal planning. Not all, but some. As parents, it’s our responsibility to help expand our children’s culinary confidence by exposing them to a variety of cuisine.
Make food an adventure The beautiful thing about falling for food is that the process is tasty! Although grocery shopping with our children can be more disastrous than adventurous, the game changes when we approach food as a teaching process. Take a trip to the produce section and talk with your children about what they find.
Get them cooking Invite your children into the kitchen rather than shooing them away. The invitation doesn’t have to happen every day, but when you invite them in, show grace as they learn. Let them crack an egg without worrying about the shell. You can always scoop it out or crack another later. Talk with your children about spices, oils, and seasoning so they understand how flavors are made.
Celebrate good tableside manners as a family Celebrate when your children pick new foods. Encourage them as they try foods they’ve tasted previously and not cared for. Praise the ways they communicate their feelings about food that aren’t their favorite. Stock their gracious guest arsenal with phrases such as no thank you, it’s not my favorite, and I don’t care for it, rather than I don’t like it, that’s yucky, or gross.
Here are a few tips from my latest trip to Fox 12 Oregon on how to make school lunches exciting and an opportunity to build foodie confidence.