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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

5 Steps to solve the 'veggie war'

If there is one frustration that parents around the world have in common, it's the so-called 'veggie war.' The battle between children and their least favourite food group has been raging for decades and causes far too much distress in households.

Chances are you've tried experimenting with recipes, getting creative with your presentations, becoming a master of vegetable-disguise, and in the most desperate of moments resorting to force-feedings; and still, nothing seems to work.

Tips and tricks are all short-term solutions that will have instant but short-term results. Before you know it you're back at square one, feeling like you've lost yet again. Perhaps it's time to try a different technique? One that includes openly and honestly addressing the problem, expressing both needs, and brainstorming solutions. The only other component involved is making your child part of the problem-solving process.

While trying to trick, train, or threaten your child to eat veggies, we lose sight of one important factor; the child's needs.

Instead of putting yourself through the frustration of engaging in a power struggle with your child, why not try an approach that can result in both of you having your needs met? Here's a simple step-by-step breakdown on how you can work this approach.

Step 1: Define both needs

As a parent you want your child to eat his/her carrots because you want to be sure that he/she is getting the essential vitamins and minerals. So, communicate this to your child.

Your child says he/she doesn't like the taste of carrots. So, validate this by replying to your child that you understand that he/she doesn't like the taste of carrots.


Now we have a problem. We both have needs that aren't being met, so what are we going to do about it?

Step 2: Brainstorm solutions

Invite your child to be part of a brainstorming session. Involve him/her as much as possible.

Discuss and get creative about possible solutions - no matter how impossible they might seem, acknowledge and write them down on a piece of paper.

Step 3: Evaluate and decide on possible solutions

Now you start checking and discussing the possibility of the solutions provided. The important part is to find a solution you both agree on. It could be something like your child would prefer his/her carrots raw instead of cooked, or instead of carrots, your child prefers pumpkin.

If the solution has the potential to address both your needs, then why not give it a try?

Step 4: Implement the solution

That night before you start preparing dinner, remind your child about the solution you both came up with. The goal is to keep your child as actively involved in this problem-solving process as possible.

Step 5: Evaluate

Dinner went well, and there are no carrots left on your child's plate. It's now the opportune time to check-in with your child:

1. How was the process for him/her?

2. Does he/she think this is a solution that can work in the future?

3. Remember to tell your child that you enjoyed your dinner together.

These steps can help you resolve conflicts without power struggles, hurt feelings, resentment, or anger. It makes sure everyone’s needs are met, and everyone feels satisfied.

Days will pass, and chances are the veggie problem will crop up again, but at least you now know how to approach it.

Our suggestion is to invest in a proper drawing-board. ;-)

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.

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