You're forgiven for thinking I'm nuts because there's no way to communicate with a toddler.
They're ornery. Opinionated. And taken to saying, "NO!" - a lot.
And I agree. But no matter how you look at it, you've still got to talk to them. And when it comes to teaching healthy eating habits, communicating effectively is the key. Read Table Talk.
Children can't cooperate if they don't know how eating decisions are made.
When it comes to eating, many parents either don't talk to their kids at all (read Surprise! Surprise!) or they talk to their children about the wrong things. As a result, eating decisions seem arbitrary. Read You Can't Make Me Eat It!
1) Be open about your goals. I am going to teach you how to...
- Eat new foods
- Enjoy more of a variety of foods
- Figure out how much food you need to eat
2) ALWAYS tell the truth about ingredients.
- You don't have to tell your toddler what goes into a dish, but if he asks, then you have to tell the truth. Otherwise, you'll inadvertently teach your toddler that the "missing" ingredient—spinach—is sooo gross that it has to be snuck in. If the dish is delicious, its ingredeints are too.
3) Tell your children what you want them to do, not what you don't want them to do.
- "I want you to eat something different from day-to-day (i.e. use The Rotation Rule) works better than, "You can't have peanut butter today."
- "You may have one piece of candy each day" is more effective than "Don't have too much."
4) Solicit your children's input.
- "I've noticed you never eat the carrots. I'm going to stop sending them in your lunch. What would you like instead?"
- "Would you like to start having a snack before bed?"
Everytime you feed your children you're teaching them something. The only question is, what are you teaching your kids? Treats End Tears. At What Cost?
There are two talking points to avoid.
- Avoid talking about health and nutrition. Yes, children need to learn basic nutrition, but telling kids about how good food is for them turns them off.
- Avoid bartering. Unless you're interested in raising a lawyer, negotiating with your child over what or how many bites she needs to eat is pointless.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~