Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

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« The Girl Scouts' Answer to Fruits and Vegetables: Mango Crèmes | Main | Blueberry Smoothies: The Case of the Hidden Spinach »

Surprise! Surprise!

Shhh, don’t say anything. Maybe he won’t notice this pasta isn’t his usual brand. 

Haven’t you ever held your breath while you waited to see what your child would do when you switched up his regular routine? Or gave him something new to eat?

Of course, kids always notice. And then they react: "I wasn't expecting my ravioli to taste like that."

Kids don't like surprises.

Unless you mean the kind of surprise that is a gift-wrapped box!

When you spring change on your children without warning you are pretty much guaranteed to get a backlash.

Why shouldn’t your kids rebel if you don’t talk to them first? If for no other reason than that they are surprised?

Kids don't want suprises (particularly if they’re caught in a control struggle). What children want is the opposite: they want predictability.

But here’s what happens in most homes.

Let’s say you decide you are going to use the Rotation Rule

  • Before you implement it, you prepare. You think through what, when, why and how you are going to do it.
  • Then, without any advance warning, wham! You start rotating foods. 
  • You expect your children to get with the program instantly. 

Not only that, you expect your kids to react exactly the way you want them to without any guidance from you. (Remember, you’re still holding your breath and hoping for the best.)

Instead of ceding the power you have to influence how things turn out to fate (or to your wily kids), talk to your kids.

Read You Can't Make Me Eat It!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

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Reader Comments (2)

This reminds me of when my kids were little and I left them at daycare. They cried and sometimes made a big scene because they were upset. People often said to me just sneak away and they won't even notice you are gone, but that just didn't feel right. I wanted my kids to trust me and also that I thought that they could learn that I would dependably be back so despite the fact that they sometimes I cried, I told them good bye and that I would be back. I think that's the same thing with eating - I want my kids to trust me and to tell them what I am doing and there is no better way than by communicating it clearly. They need to know what to expect. They may not like it but at least it doesn't blindside them.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterannette anderwald


I think your instincts regarding daycare were spot on. I always tell parents to reassure their children that they'll be back, and then when the parents do come back, to say something like, "Remember I said I would be back at the end of the day. Well, here I am." This kind of bookending makes a big difference.

Thanks for sharing your story.


January 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterDina Rose

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