Lessons of Seduction: How to Win Over Your Picky Child by Putting Your Best Food Forward

Dec 17, 2008 by

Shrillness, begging, pleading, or shrewish manipulating and controlling, along with aggressive demands or force, are never as effective in winning hearts as a little subtle reverse psychology, known as “playing hard to get.” – photo by Anna Migeon

The methods of seduction can teach us a few things about getting kids to eat what we want them to eat.

Our child is putty in our hands from the moment we bring her home. This serious responsibility of feeding her well begins as simply and naturally as putting the nipple filled with the right food in the crying mouth.

“Take advantage of the last moment when you have complete control over what your child consumes,” instructs Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat.

“As children we develop our lifelong sense of what is natural and comforting, and the adult continues to seek comfort from the same sources, regardless of how unhealthful,” she explains. “The best gift you can give your child is a conditioned attraction to the things that are good for her.”

That gift of attraction, by definition, must be accepted of free will. As a child gets older, it gets more difficult if we try to exert control once things go wrong. The more a parent tries to dictate what and how much kids eat, the more it tends to backfire. You can make them eat it, or bribe them to eat it, but you cannot bring about attraction through force. You can only influence how they feel through more subtle techniques of seduction.

So how can we seduce our children to actually like the foods we want them to like? By using the usual techniques of seduction, of course.

Confidence is Attractive

In seduction, confidence is the first rule to follow. Rest assured, you have something children naturally need and want: food! You are working with their natural inclinations to respond to what you offer. No matter what age or stage the child, his hunger is your own best secret weapon. Let it work for you, and for him.

Confidence will keep you from the temptation to offer incentives. If you want someone to love you for yourself, you do not offer other compensation to go out with you. Good food is its own best reason for eating. Likewise, telling a kid to eat something because it’s good for them is more of a turn-off than a turn-on. Good-for-you clearly implies not-good. It has a built-in apology, like saying, “She has a nice personality.”

So make what you’ve got as enticing as you can, and your food and the growing youngster’s natural hunger will make beautiful music together.

Have Some Dignity

Shrillness, begging, pleading, or shrewish manipulating and controlling, along with  aggressive demands or force, are never as effective in winning hearts as a little subtle reverse psychology, known as “playing hard to get.” Keep a happy face, enjoy what’s on your own plate, and let them wonder what they’re missing if they don’t want to eat what you hope they’ll eat.

Resist the temptation to tell them to eat. Never let them know you want them to eat, or it will only be less likely that they will eat voluntarily. It sends the message that what you have to offer isn’t worth wanting for itself. Force, subtle or otherwise, is not needed, and furthermore, is counterproductive. Let him come to the natural conclusion on his own. Let the food itself demurely but compellingly prompt their hunger to desire and to ask.

Take Them on a Date

Like anyone trying to attract or persuade, make your food offering as appealing as is in your power. Make it look good, smell good, taste good. Hook them with positive experiences.

Get them involved in seeing, smelling, feeling and tasting ingredients. Take them to food markets, gardens, and farms where they can enjoy getting to know food. Such techniques will whet their appetites.

“Expose them to the widest variety of vegetables and fruits, showing them how good things can be in season,” advises Guiliano. “Tasteless fruits and vegetables won’t win them over for life.”

Flavorful, nourishing Real Food at its best, placed temptingly in front of the hungry child, with no pushing, equals satisfaction guaranteed.

Related post:

Feeding Children Made Easy: Parenting Sun-Style Instead of North Wind Style

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 16 December 2008 / All rights reserved

This post was featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on July 2, 2010.


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