You'd think I was talking about broccoli, or some other challenging food, but I was talking to my 4 yo about a Snickers bar. Yes, I actually encouraged my kiddo to try a candy bar, and it was for breakfast... For those of you that I haven't totally freaked out, let me explain.
Recently I have been enjoying a fun-size Snickers with my afternoon coffee. I left one on the kitchen table and at breakfast M saw it and said with excietment, "Can I eat this for breakfast" Now usually I would say no and move on, but she's not had candy with breakfast except on one or two occasions and it wasn't one she usually asks for.
Me: "You can chose if you want it with breakfast or with dinner for dessert."
M:"I want it now. It doesn't have nuts in it, does it???" she whined with crinkled nose.
Me: "It does. Maybe if you close your eyes you might like it?"
Wait a minute, what was I doing? I remember my Dad saying that to me very sternly when I was little. "Close your eyes and eat it" if I complained that something looked gross. Was I pressuring?
These are the moments with feeding that I stop and check in with myself. (Something I ask parents to do when things aren't going well or they feel anger or frustration with a feeding situation.) What are my motives? What is my baggage around this issue? Am I pushing? Am I getting push-back? Are we emotionally in a good place? Are we getting upset or are things pretty pleasant and neutral still?
No. It didn't feel like pressure. I casually offered her the option of closing her eyes and mentioned that she might like it. She closed her eyes for the first bite and enjoyed the Snickers bar, somewhat surprised. She drank milk, had half a banana and a clementine and half a piece of buttered whole wheat bread with it. Not too shabby nutritionally, and it was a pleasant breakfast that felt special to her. Will I make a habit of it? No, but part of feeding is to be able to be flexible at times. If she had refused or not wanted to try it, I would have said, "Fine, you can have toast and fruit, and I could also make oatmeal."
Sometimes a gentle suggestion, given with the intention of honoring variety and being open to new tastes, versus pressure or trying to get your kid to eat something can help. When M doesn't want to try something, sometimes just saying, "OK, your napkin is right here in case you want to try it and spit it out." I then move on with my meal, usually eating the food that she refuses to try and most of the time in a minute or two she will be happily eating the offending food. See what works for you. Be careful not to push-you usually just get pushed right back.