12 responses to “I Bribed—Excuse Me, Encouraged Via the Promise of Reward—My Child to Eat Vegetables”

  1. Casey@Good. Food. Stories.

    I love that one of the tags for this post is "zen" – so appropriate. And of COURSE he decided to do this in February! Why make it easy on you?

  2. Susan from Food Blogga

    I really enjoyed this post, Debbie. And I actually chuckled when you described his 30 min long chew. I used to try to swallow the food without chewing. I practically choked a couple of times doing that, so maybe all that chewing isn't all that bad. 😉

    FYI-I volunteer at a garden where we teach children about healthy eating. We actually make the children take a pledge: "I swear that I will always and everywhere take at least one big bite of whatever is served to me before saying 'no, thank you.'" I'm amazed at how well it works!

  3. debbie koenig

    Casey, I suspect that if I'd been a bit more zen about his eating before he was old enough to notice, things might be better now. Sigh.

    And Susan, I cannot for the life of me figure out why he doesn't swallow asap. He'll sit there on the verge of tears, cheeks puffed out, trying desperately to keep the food off his tongue, when all he has to do is swallow. This doesn't happen often, but when it does it's hard not to laugh.

    I've thought about the pledge thing, but I suspect that it would only work if he was signing it with a group of peers–if it's between only him and me, he'd probably balk.

  4. SG

    Great Story…. the only way I got mine to eat veggies was to toally hide it. NOT cheesy sauce… but totally puree SMOOTH & add to spaghetti sauce (carrots & green beans & broccoli) Cauliflower in mashed potatoes. I just could not sit at the table with the arguments, gagging sounds etc. She's 21 now & still eats FEW veggies LOL.

  5. Liz

    This is fantastic, Debbie! Great news. I will be really interested to hear whether Junior carries on eating the veggies! We managed to persuade our reluctant vegetable eater to eat a few just before Christmas because he knew Santa was watching, however that hasn't translated into an ongoing enthusiasm! (By the way, agree that bribery is a very ugly word. We like 'incentivise'). And the whole chewing thing! I know! Just swallow it, have a drink and move on already!!

  6. debbie koenig

    SG, I'm reluctant to go the hiding route–I really want him to know what he's eating & enjoy it, and I know he's ok nutritionally thanks to all the fruit. Not sure this is any better, but at least he's doing it willingly.

    Liz, I'm very curious to see if this actually turns into a new behavior! We're debating whether to start a new chart, but one that takes 3 weeks to fill in. Figure if we extend the time it takes to get a reward, eventually we can stop. That might be a dream, though.

  7. sarah henry

    We call it "polite bite" in my house. Since I was on a similar trajectory to you I think it's fair to say it does get easier and kids with sensitive palates do branch out in their own time and when they're ready.

    But I still remember when I could count on one hand what greens my kid — a vegetarian! — would consume. There are still many he doesn't like, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts. But he east spinach, kale, chard, and loads of salad stuff. It's all good. Congrats on the cucumber victory.

  8. Coreopsis

    My opinion on the whole "hiding" thing is that if a child really isn't eating vegetables, it's okay to grate some carrot or zucchini into the spaghetti sauce or even the banana bread. When my boys were little, they vastly preferred the fresh-out-of-the-garden veggies–new snow peas. baby green beans, strips of green and red pepper, asparagus–to things cooked and served on their plates. They loved broccoli (with cheese sauce on it) and artichokes (with a mustard sauce to dip it in), though. And throughout most of their childhood, when I was cooking, and they walked through the kitchen, they were as likely to snag some chopped carrots and zucchini as they were to snitch some grated cheese.

    What a marvelous adventure this is for you!

  9. debbie koenig

    Sarah, I like "polite bite"!

    Coreopsis, thank you for calling this an adventure. Makes it seem almost…fun.

    Meanwhile, last night Harry ate peas willingly. By the spoonful. With no chart. Lord almighty, perhaps things are changing. Perhaps.

  10. Reidy

    Yes, at our house, it's a "No thank you" bite– you have to take one bite before saying "No thank you." And my picky 5 1/2 year old has the additional rule of "Every time you make a face or say Yuck, you have to take ANOTHER no thank you bite."

    The jury is still out, though.

  11. Cindy Rowland

    This is a great example of attacking a problem from all sides and with all your creative resources. You never know what will actually work.

  12. debbie koenig

    So true, Cindy–these kids are utterly unpredictable, so you may as well try everything.

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