Things not to say #4

hot dg stall

I overheard this little conversation at a fete. A family were queuing at a stall to to buy some lunch.

Girl (about 6 or 7): Can I have a hot dog?

Mum: No, I’m not getting you a hot dog. You didn’t eat any of it last time you had one.

Girl: But I want one.

Mum: No, you’re not having one. Choose something else, please.

The strong temptation with a fussy eater is to play it safe. Stick to the foods you know they’ll definitely eat. We don’t want to waste food or money or effort. We don’t want a fuss.

Isn’t this ironic?

The very thing we want with a fussy eater is for them to eat a wider range of foods. But here’s a girl asking for a food she’s rejected before – actually asking for it – and her mum says no! Maybe she didn’t eat her hot dog last time, but even if she hasn’t eaten one for three years, if we don’t at least give her the opportunity to eat one now, how can she change the pattern? It is the parent – not the child herself – keeping her diet narrow. Keeping her fussy.

I admit a hot dog might not feel like a major breakthrough! It’s not like she’s asking for a whole head of lettuce with a smoked mackerel dip on the side. But it is a food she’s rejected before.

So when your child asks for a food they’ve previously fussed over, don’t refuse. Don’t remind them what happened last time. Don’t say, “Okaaay, but only if you promise to eat it”. Just go with it.

Otherwise you’re shooting yourself in the foot.


Have you read Things not to say #3?