Things not to say #5

child and cucumber

A snippet from a sandwich shop. A five-year-old boy and his dad were eating toasties, that came with a bit of salad garnish.

Boy [picks up slice of cucumber]: What’s that on it?

Dad: It’s just a bit of salad dressing.

Boy: I don’t like it.

Dad: Look, I’ll scrape it off for you. There.

Boy: I don’t want it.

Dad: Just eat it, please. I mean it. You’re becoming a fussy eater and I’m not having it!

Uh oh! Dad used the F word.

Odd as it may sound in all this infuriating flurry of fussiness, the one word you should never call them is ‘fussy’!

Research shows that children internalize any label you give them – Lazy? Shy? Chatty? – and live up to it. So once they know you’ve put them in the Fussy Eater category, you’re in big danger of them wearing that badge with pride! How could I possibly eat cucumber with salad dressing on it? – I’m a fussy eater, don’t you know! How can I be expected to eat this cheese that is a completely different colour to the one we normally have at home? – I’m a fussy eater, don’t forget! You’re joking if you think I’m going to try that fish, right? I’m one of those kids, remember! The fussy ones. It becomes an excuse, a way out.

So never actually tell your child they’re a fussy eater – or let them catch you telling someone else!

Swearing loudly about their fussy eating in private, however…that’s absolutely fine. 😉


Have you read Things not to say #4?