Do you ever deal with kids that won’t eat well? The story I’m about to share with you is not conventional. It might alarm you, and it might not be something that you’re going to want to do. But it will still teach you something. I’m not advocating this nor am I saying that I think it’s cruel. I think it’s best that you decide for yourself.
I recently visited my sister in Vancouver. Her kids are 6 and 8 years old and they have always been fussy eaters. The way she describes it, they would constantly complain and pick at their food. After years of this, it got on her nerves enough to make her take drastic action.
What did my sister do to make her kids eat? Simply put, she created a world where the alternative was very unappealing to her kids. One day at dinner time the kids were complaining as usual. She said to them, “Look – if I hear one more complaint out of either of you, then what I’m going to do is feed you nothing but bread and cheese as your meal for the next 3 days”.
Well, it wasn’t more than a moment before she got another complaint. She took away the kids’ meals and grabbed a couple of slices of bread and some cheese from the fridge. The kids ate it. For breakfast the next morning she brought out the bread and cheese again. Then for lunch, then for dinner that night, etc.
She did this for three straight days. She told me that her kids really lost their fondness of bread and cheese quite quickly (no kidding!). But at the end of this ordeal she was amazed at the transition. The kids have not complained about any of their meals. They know that if they are out of line they’ll go back to eating bread and cheese.
Part of me thought this was funny, and part of me thought this was pretty harsh punishment. But at the end of the day here are the facts:
- There are plenty of people on this planet that would give up a lot just to get 3 square meals of bread and cheese per day.
- Although devoid of many essential nutrients, this is not really unhealthy and it is only for 3 days.
- It most definitely makes your kids appreciate some variety
- It certainly teaches them the cause-effect link between their complaining and the “punishment” of being served only bread and cheese
- It works.
If you think of doing this let me tell you that you must be very consistent. My sister did not break from the pattern for 3 full days. Even a single break from the pattern shows your kids that you can be pushed and that you’ll cave. If you do this for 2 days I bet it will still work, but then say “it is for 2 days”. Don’t say it is for 3 days and give up after 2 days thinking they’ve had enough. You have to follow through. Again – I’m not saying I would do this (I have other tools to use), but it is something that works.
If you have gone through my audio course “Talking to Toddlers”, then you have learned about something called “anchors”. An anchor is something that triggers a certain state within someone. In this case, my sister created a very powerful anchor where a food complaint would be strongly connected, in her kids’ minds, to being punished with a boring food menu for 3 days. There are much faster ways to create anchors using the techniques I teach.
Anchors can be very useful to draw out certain states when you need them. For example, you might want to anchor a calm state of mind so you can trigger it at bed time.
If you’d like to learn more about using these techniques and how to deal with toddlers, please check out my audio course, Talking to Toddlers.