Children Love to Be the Boss

Children Love to Be the Boss


Children love to be the boss. Ever noticed that? Seems to me that my toddler would love to demand what he eats at each meal – typical – peanut butter sandwich or chicken nuggets. Sound familiar? While those choices are ok, our children benefit from a variety of foods and maybe allowing them to choose will help.

In a fast, cheap and microwavable world, it’s easy to throw in those containers of mac n cheese and have them ready and on the table in a hurry. Parents have a lot to go against when trying to feed our children healthy options. Our kids see commercials of sugary and carb packed foods that seem appealing but in reality are hurting them- not helping. Lunchtime had become a “battlefield” Mom vs. Two year old and enough was enough. So, I wanted to share a little trick I’ve been using because I think it may help you as you strive to feed your children healthy options.

As I mentioned earlier, my toddler loves peanut butter sandwiches, chicken nuggets and other various entrees. For lunch, I will serve one of those options as the main course and add in side items.

For example, I will ask him – Would you like chicken nuggets or a sandwich? I then will have a couple side item options and allow him to choose two from the following;

  • Apple slices
  • Carrot sticks with hummus
  • Broccoli with Brianna’s Poppy Seed dressing
  • Sweet potato fries with ketchup
  • Grapes
  • Pita chips with veggie spread

I narrow it down to three options from the list above and then ask him to select two items. (Giving too many options can stress out and overwhelm the little ones.)

I have noticed that my toddler “feels” empowered when I let him select his menu for lunch. I have given options (and boundaries) while allowing him to make the selections. If I notice a pattern of the “same ol’ same ol’” I encourage him to try a different side item. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a PBS children’s show, has a cute song “Try a new food you just might like it” and we sing that song together.

At dinnertime, I do not make a separate “toddler meal”. I feel it is important that they eat with the family and try new foods. With that being said, if he tries what I’ve made for dinner and honestly does not like it, I will provide a different item. (Again, if I notice a habit of constantly “not liking” dinner, I encourage him to eat what is on his plate).

As parents, it is important to facilitate decision making at a young age. We want our children to be able to make good choices and nothing is better than letting them practice that in a “safe environment”. I would LOVE to see children choose healthy options over junk foods because they have been taught what is good for their bodies. I think this is possible and it starts at home.

Children Love to Be the Boss
Jessica Fox, Contributor

Carolina Pediatric Therapy © September 2014

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