When it comes to dinner time, or any other meal in my house, "Yuck" and "I don't like it" are banned. It sounds harsh, but I want to explain why. This what works for us, take it or leave it.
My kids are fairly good eaters (we don't have any eating issues or food anxieties). But surprise them with something new, and they might have some words for you. But I don't let those words stop dinner in it's tracks. Because I have seen how it happens.
My kids are pretty good eaters, but even they have their moments and they are also quite easily influenced. If one of them says "yuck" or "I don't like it" generally speaking I lose them both for the rest of the meal. The same happens if another child at the table says it.
Why don't we use "yuck" and I don't like it?
Because they are basically a way of stopping eating without taking any responsibility. Resorting to "yuck" before even tasting a food means that they get the easy way out.
I would be absolutely mortified beyond belief if my kids ever said "yuck" to something someone else has cooked for them, so I feel really strongly that they should have other words for expressing why they don't like something. There are many reasons why a kid (or adult) might not like a meal, and it's my job as the parent to help them to find and use the correct words to express it.
How can you help your child to find the right words?
- Talk about food. Talk about textures like crunchy, hard, soft, moist, creamy and the things that they have to do with their mouths with the different textures. This is why some kids love uncooked carrot but won't eat it cooked or vice versa.
- Talk about tastes and flavours, whether things are spicy, too sweet, too bitter, too sour, tangy etc and how that makes their tongue and mouth feel.
- Talk about combinations. It is ok to like carrot, but not like carrot when covered in stew, or to like broccoli when it's cooked, but not in a muffin. It's ok to like pasta and sauce but not like them together
- Ask for suggestions, if the potato isn't nice in massaman curry, but the rest is great and they love it maybe cook the curry without the potato, or ask what they would prefer to have in the curry.
Use words at EVERY meal
Even if it's a meal the kids really enjoy, use words! "I like this because..." "these are yummy because..." "I think these are my favourite way to eat potatoes because..." all of the sentences they can say help them to develop their vocabulary around food.
It's ok to not like something
Don't get me wrong, I'm not forcing my kids to eat every bit of every meal. Instead, I always make sure they taste it. They can then decide if they hate it, but they have to have a reason why and to have a reason, they have to have tried it.
What are some of our fussy eater favourites?
What about you? Do you allow "Yuck" and "I don't like it"?