The Parenting Code Blog

Raise Amazing Kids

Getting your kids on board with healthy food choices

Do you really care about healthy eating? Many parents say they do. They claim healthy eating is high on the priority list. But then they fall down because it’s either too much trouble to find healthy food choices, or their kids push back and argue with them until the parents fall back to Fishy crackers and other processed junk.

My wife and I have made the same mistakes. We’ve gotten busy, and felt too tired to deal with healthy snacks at times. If we didn’t have enough choice our two girls would get bored and complain.

So what’s the solution? We put healthy snacks on the agenda for our weekly family meeting a few months ago. The family meeting is a time to bring up problems that need solving, and then everyone works towards a solution. Our solution was very easy. We all agreed to come up with a list of after-school snacks and pin it to the bulletin board in the kitchen. Now we’ve got 5 healthy snack choices for Monday-Friday and they are in full view for the kids to see. We’ve agreed on these in advance, and if the kids get bored of the snacks they can bring it up at a future family meeting.

The idea of using a family meeting to solve problems is not mine, but it is worth stealing. It can be used for a variety of problems, not just for healthy eating. There are two main benefits that I want to explain:

  1. The influential power of buy-in. Using a family meeting to solve a problem means getting buy-in from everyone. If you can come up with a solution that everyone agrees to, in advance, it prevents fights. It’s a great example of using Dr. Robert Cialdini’s persuasion principle of “commitment and consistency”. Want to see a great example of this in action? Read this article where I share how I got my daughter to want to put sunscreen on while up at the cottage on a summer day.  She had previously refused to wear sunscreen.
  2. It’s unemotional. Family meetings are calm, unlike emotionally charged problem situations. If you try to solve a highly emotional problem right when it is happening, you may find it much more difficult.  If you instead put the problem on a family meeting agenda, everyone can discuss it without the emotional charge.  This makes finding a productive solution much easier.  We’ve used this tactic to solve fights over who gets to use the iPad, or who picks activities for family games, and a bunch of other problems.

If there is just one piece of advice I can pass onto you here it is this:  Involve your kids in planning and problem solving.  Assume they are smart enough to help in a meaningful way.  They are.

As for healthy snacks,  plan ahead and make your grocery shopping more efficient and economical.  If you need some ideas I found this awesome article online.   It has 20 different meal / snack ideas.   Check it.  I know we will be giving some of them a try.

Enjoy your children!

Chris Thompson