Down the hatch: 7 sure-fire strategies to encourage your child to eat new foods and take their supplements (part 3)

By Alive & Well

Sean Fitzgerald, Autism InternationalGuest post from Sean Fitzgerald, Autism International


3. Playfulness

Kids LOVE to play. If something’s fun, it’s much more exciting.

This is how kids’ advertising has worked for decades now (rightly or wrongly).

So as much as nutrition and biomedical health is serious stuff, you’re more likely to get a ‘yes’ from your child if you’re easy-going and playful about it.

Remind me how to be playful again?

Some of us lose our natural playfulness as we grow older. Our perspective changes – we think we might look silly, or we’re not supposed to, or we don’t know how anymore.

via weheartit.comThe easiest way to tap into your natural playfulness is to just amp everything up.

Whichever way you express energy, excitement and enthusiasm in your life normally, exaggerate it when you’re trying to introduce your child to something new like food or supplements.

It’s all about the energy, excitement and enthusiasm you express with your face, voice and body – the expression on your face, the way you move your body, the tone of your voice.

A couple of examples I prepared earlier

A new spin on the flying spoon
One day, I watched a mother take a spoonful of butternut squash and fly it towards her son’s mouth, making loud plane noises on the way. When he pushed the spoon away, she spun the spoon around in a circle, yelled, “Crash landing!” and flew it into her mouth. After she had eaten the squash, she said “Mmmmmm, what a delicious plane!”

When she re-loaded the spoon and repeated the process, her son pushed it away but this time he smiled. When she spun the spoon around and flew it towards her mouth, it bounced off – “Oh no, the plane can’t land there either!” – and turned back towards her son. As she got closer, she pretended that the engine was sputtering and the plane dipped down a few times on the way to his mouth. When it finally got there, he took a little taste – a big step forward.

Building it into a fun activity
Another family I was working with was keen for their son to start eating blueberries. This boy loves physical games, particularly rides, so I found a way of slipping the blueberries into one of our riding games.

In between giving him rides around the playroom, I would stop to have a blueberry and make a big show of how it was giving me the strength to give him another ride. I was playful and silly, doing muscle poses after eating the blueberries to show how strong they were making me. The pay-off for him was great, so after a few rides he started picking up the blueberries and giving them to me himself.

After a while, I started saying “Hey, do you want to have a blueberry too? I think you should! We can both be strong!” At first he just kept feeding them to me but eventually he tried some himself.

If the new food or supplement is part of a fun game, it will have a really positive association for your child. But it doesn’t even need to be as complicated as that. Sometimes being playful can just mean that you exaggerate your own enjoyment of a particular food.

Whatever you do, just have fun being a kid again – and watch your child respond.

Have you come up with some fun games to get your children to try new things?

The complete ‘Down the Hatch’ series: