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The Princess and the Pea?

Remember the tale of the princess and the pea?  A king was looking for a wife for his son, the prince.  But she had to be special - very high-born.  So a test was devised.  Under a large stack of  mattresses was placed a single dried pea.  

Every morning, as each prospect came down to breakfast, she was asked how she slept.    Every one answered that she had slept soundly, and was dismissed as common.

Finally one prospect reported "Oh, I tossed and turned all night, and couldn't sleep a wink.  There was a lump in my bed."   This proved she was indeed very special, and she won the prince's hand in marriage.

Switch gears for a moment.  You and your daughter are lunching at a friend's house..  One of your children is complaining about the food she is served.  You remark to your friend, "Little Susie doesn't like ____.  She is so hard to feed.   I can't get her to eat hardly anything.  If it were up to her she would live on pizza".

In other words, a little princess.  Very special.  

Small children originally learn who they are and what they are about from you.  They define themselves by your opinion of them.  Later on they begin to form their own ideas and personality, but they still absorb everything they hear.

You say your kids don't listen to you?  Don't believe anything you say?

Let's switch gears again.  Suppose that one morning when you get up, your spouse and kids turn their heads away when you kiss them good morning.  As you sit down on the subway, people in adjacent seats wrinkle their noses, get up and move.   Some of your co-workers edge away from you, some fanning their faces.  Soon you are taking sample whiffs of your underarms.  You check your socks.  Run out to the drugstore and buy some mouthwash.  People still are backing off from you in apparent horror.  It continues all day that way.

By evening you would be convinced that you smelled bad, right?  The power of suggestion . . .

Never, ever state in your kids' hearing that they don't like something, are picky eaters, have a poor appetite, are hard to cook for, or any other such statement.   That is the wrong kind of "affirming statement".   They will soon "know" for a permanent fact they don't like ______, or are the kind of person who is a picky eater.

Start now to state the facts in a very sneaky way.  Get a seriously pitying and sad look on your face when you do this (with teenagers you have to be more subtle, naturally).  Practice in a mirror if you think you may not get it right at first.   Pretend you're trying for an Academy Award.

  • Don't say "Susie won't eat _______."
  • Say "Little Susie hasn't yet learned to like _____."   Try to say it sadly.  
  • Or state, apologetically, "She's still too little to like _______.  When she grows up a little she will."    
  • Don't say "Susie is such a picky eater."
  • Say "There's a lot of foods that Susie is still too small to like."
  • If you're eating out and see a temper tantrum or whining session coming about some food on little Susie's plate, don't scold, threaten, or tell the server "Susie won't eat that."
  • Say "I'm sorry; Susie can't have any of that yet, she's too little and hasn't yet learned to like it," while promptly removing the offending item.

These are facts: a newborn will find a pickle, fried chicken, catsup, cheddar and most other items repulsive.  Why?  They haven't yet learned to like them.  It takes several exposures in most cases.  If you keep agreeing they don't like them and won't eat them, they never will.  Don't raise a picky prince or princess.  Be sneaky!

The Sneaky Kitchen
Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201

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