The Norman Transcript

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January 17, 2014

Fail-safe way to get children to clean their plates

NORMAN — Well, as they say, better late than never. Two columns ago, I promised to share my “fail-safe, money-back guaranteed formula for getting kids to eat everything on their plates.”

Then, as if I was in my 60s or something, I forgot and wrote a column about kids who argue constantly with their parents. Consider this my mea culpa or, as the young say, “My bad.”

Yes, it is possible to get kids to eat everything on their plates — spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, you name it. Why, in the American Southeast, it is common for toddlers to eat something called livermush. Compared to livermush, broccoli is like ice cream (to me, anyway). Nonetheless, a kid who scarfs down livermush will refuse broccoli.

Why do so many of today’s kids have picky palates? Some people with capital letters after their names say it’s because their taste buds send weird signals to their brains when they eat certain foods. That explanation cannot be verified; therefore, it is a theory, and a bad one at that.

And so what if something initially tastes weird? When I was a kid, I thought spinach tasted weird. I ate it anyway and learned eventually to love it. My parents didn’t give me a choice. That’s the real reason kids have picky palates — parents give choices.

Since the parenting revolution of the 1960s, experts have been encouraging parents to give children choices. And so — as in last week’s column — today’s parents complain about children who argue with them about “everything.”

They also complain that their kids won’t eat what’s put on their plates: “My child won’t eat anything but (some form of junk food).” Yes, he will eat something besides junk. Here’s the simple, tested, certified, three-step plan:

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