🌱Rewarding and bribing our kids at mealtimes are essentially ways of trying to control their food intake. But implementing respectful mealtimes and pursuing the goal of raising intuitive little eaters is contrary to control.
🌱The thing is, though: We can still be in control at mealtimes without being controlling.
🌱The first step to get there is to accept the premise of divided responsibility at mealtimes: that we parents are responsible for the serving factors, while our kids are responsible for the eating factors.
🌱Next, we need to create the conditions for intrinsic motivation: food courage and food interest coming from within as opposed to being stimulated by external factors (eg. rewards, bribes, punishment). We want our kids to eat a broad variety of food, but we want them to do so willingly, not because we tell them to.
🌱The third thing to keep in mind is to provide a pleasant and safe mealtime environment where we trust and empower our kids to make their own choices. This will actually decrease pickiness, too.
🌱Here are my tips to implement bribe-less mealtimes:
👉🏻 Serve all kinds of food, but make sure you serve 1-2 safe foods with every meal
👉🏻 Involve your kids in cooking (most kids will feel more inclined to taste what they helped making)
👉🏻 Be a role model and eat what you serve yourself
👉🏻 Initiate good talks at the table (this often removes the intense focus of how many bites your child eats)
👉🏻 Keep the exposure game up: serve all kinds of food for your family, including the foods your little one didn’t like the first time.
👉🏻 Encourage them to play with food – make faces out of veggies, make necklaces out of fruit, do tic tac toe, stack those carrots, etc.
👉🏻 Make all foods equal: no food is off-limits, no food is only healthy/unhealthy – we need different foods for our bodies at different times
👉🏻 Don’t give their food intake too much air time: whether they reject their peas or gobble them up