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    Childrearing #4

    June 27, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Require a child to try new foods at least ten separate times.

    Not all kids are picky eaters, but our son sure can be! I wasn’t sure what to do about it, and I didn’t like the idea of him imposing such strict limitations on his diet that he actually missed out on certain nutrients. Then I read an article {this was a couple years ago, so I can’t offer a reference here} that said that it can take up to ten tries to acquire a taste for something. {This is probably why I don’t like alcohol!}

    The basic purpose of our Ten Tries Rule is to encourage a child to eat a wide variety of foods, because variety is a key to good nutrition. We also think it will make dining more exciting for him later on in life.

    With our daughter, we can’t really articulate the Rule in such a way that she can understand, but we can tell E. that he has to take a certain number of bites of that food, and that he has to try it at ten separate meals before he can say he doesn’t like it. So far, he has eventually acquired a taste for everything he has challenged us on, though he of course has foods he likes more than others.

    I think that if he is ever extremely stubborn about a food, I will create a chart, and he will get a sticker or something for each attempt. If, after ten tries, he still hates it, then I will accept that he really doesn’t like it. {I think every person I know has a food they just don’t like, so though I want to encourage adventurous eating, I don’t want to ignore the fact that he really might not like something.} But if he tries it five times and quit complaining, I will quietly make the chart disappear.

    Some kids might like a celebration or something, if they like praise. Drawing attention to something like this would bring E. right back to square one, so how to “end” the chart should be based on the child’s personality. For instance, we always clap for A. when she tries a new food, and she beams her best smile. When we do likewise for E., he scowls at us. Funny kid.

    I suppose that another thing we do that is related to the Ten Tries Rule is forcing bites a bit with A. She is often resistant to a new food, but if I tell her she must take one bite, she usually decides she likes it. Of course, I have to make sure that the food is something that she can eat without difficulty {she is not a carnivore yet because she doesn’t quite have all the necessary teeth}. She doesn’t require nearly ten tries; encouraging the first bite is usually all it takes!


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  • Reply Comedyken July 1, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    I haven’t noticed a chart for Si yet?

  • Reply Kimbrah June 27, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    This is a great idea! I usually do 2-4 times, but I like this idea much better. The chart might be a good idea with Karlos. Bobby seems to like everything but tomatoes (and I do believe that I have tried to give them to him on ten separate occasions). I am definitely going to implement this one. Thanks Brandy!

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