One of the biggest challenges parents face is getting their kids to try a new foods multiple times.
If it takes 10-14 exposures before a child will like a new food, the million-dollar question is, "How do you get kids to try the same food that many times?"
- It's easier to get kids to taste a new food multiple times than it is to get them to eat that new food multiple times. In fact, if you think about it, kids won't eat food that don't like so expecting them to eat a food multiple times when they dislike it is crazy thinking. That's why we're Growing Good Tasters. Eating comes later.
- Rewards create the right incentive for multiple exposures. Especially if you let your kids think they're tricking you when you let them taste the same food over and over. Wink, Wink.
I wrote about how to use rewards last week. If you missed it, click here.
In this post I want to encourage you to give rewards a chance.
REWARDS Rock! And rewards are way more important than modeling. Here's one study.
If you are new to this series, The Step-by-Step, Blow-by-Blow Guide to Introducing New Foods that's Guaranteed to Change How Your Kids Eat, start here.
Researchers asked 136 parents to offer their child a small piece of a disliked (but not hated) vegetable each day for 14 days.
The parent-child pairs were divided into five groups to find out which worked best: modeling, repeated exposure, rewards, or some combination of the three.
The five groups:
- Repeated Exposure
- Modeling paired with Repeated Exposure
- Rewards (stickers) paired with Repeated Exposure
- Modeling, paired with Rewards and Repeated Exposure
- Nothing. These folks were the control group.
Group 3 (Rewards (stickers) paired with Repeated Exposure) wins!!
Rewards make all the difference.
Groups 3 and 4 experienced more tastings and more improvement in liking than any of the other groups.
So why do I say Group 3 wins?
- Both Groups 3 and 4 offered Rewards and Repeat Exposure. The only difference is Modeling in Group 4.
- The results were statistically similar for Groups 3 and 4.
- Therefore, adding modeling to rewards and repeat exposure didn't improve the results.
Rewards improve your kids' acceptance to repeat exposure. Repeat exposure improves their liking. Modeling is extraneous.
It's as simple as that!
And one more thing: Praising kids works better than remaining neutral.
So the advice to remain silent/neutral while your kids do the hard work is ill-advised. In this study, parents who praised had better results than parents who were neutral.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
Source: Holley, C. E., E. Haycraft, and C. Farrow. 2015. “'Why Don't You Try it Again?' a Comparison of Parent Led, Home Based Interventions Aimed At Increasing Children's Consumption of a Disliked Vegetable.” appetite 87: 215-22.