Getting kids to eat their veggies

January 10, 2012 1:48:57 PM PST
If you're hoping to get your kids to eat more vegetables this year, you may want to implement a little R&R, repetition and rewards.

It sounds a little like bribery, but a recent British study found repeatedly exposing kids to vegetables, then rewarding the them with stickers, seems to work.

"When they did the incentive for the stickers, every time the child tasted the food they would get a sticker and that for them was positive reinforcement to continue trying the new food. In the end they were still able to eat the new food without having to get the stickers over and over again," said Andrea Rumschlag, Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers split nearly 150 children, ages 3 and 4, into three groups.

One group got stickers every time they ate a vegetable, another group got praise, and the third group got nothing.

Parents offered their children a taste of a vegetable 12 times a day for 3 months.

Results show the sticker group was more likely to eat their vegetables, even if they previously disliked it.

Researchers say parents need to pack patience when introducing new foods to their children.

"When you try to get your picky eater to eat a new food repetition is key. You want to keep offering the same food over and over again just to entice them and get them more familiar with it because the more familiar they're going to be the less anxious they'll feel about trying it. And for kids that are only around the age of 3, 4, or 5, stickers go a long way," adds Rumschlag.

It may or may not work for your child, but it may be worth a try.

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