The 4 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids if You Want Them to Like Vegetables. Creating Healthy Habits for Kids

Learn how, with the freedom to experiment on your kid's own terms, your picky eater will grow out of picky eating to become an adventurous foodie! #parenting #pickyeating Having a child who likes vegetables is often seen as a marker of a “good parent.” So much so, that parents will often do (and say!) anything to create these healthy habits for kids.

But what if your efforts were actually moving your child further away from vegetable-acceptance instead of towards it?

To make sure your dinnertime conversation isn’t thwarting your efforts to raise a veggie-loving child and create healthy habits for kids, I’ve outlined a few statements you need to avoid.

Steps To Create Healthy Habits For Kids

1. “It’s good for you!”

Why This Doesn’t Work:

Kids don’t give a hoot if a vegetable’s good for them! Or that it will make them big and strong. Or that it will help them see, hear or run better. In fact, pushing the nutritional benefits of food actually makes them want to eat it less! Kids are so logical, aren’t they?

When you tell your child that something is good for them, they automatically assume that this means it won’t taste good.

Check Out These Other Great Resources:

What To Say Instead:

Nothing. You don’t need to convince them of anything. Just put the vegetables in front of them and zip your lips!

Even if you can convince them to eat those Brussel sprouts in the moment (who doesn’t want to be big and strong or have super powers?) highlighting the healthy benefits will give them a negative association with the taste of Brussel sprouts long-term. Meaning that they won’t actually learn to like them, just tolerate them.

If somebody has to convince you of something, aren’t you usually a bit skeptical? The same goes when trying to create healthy habits for kids.


2. “You can have dessert if you eat your broccoli.”

Why This Doesn’t Work:

Learn how, with the freedom to experiment on your kid's own terms, your picky eater will grow to become an adventurous foodie! Admittedly, this will likely work in the moment and they WILL choke down that broccoli (depending on how good dessert is, of course). But again, just tolerating vegetables is not the long term goal. Learning to actually enjoy them is.

What kids hear is that dessert is delicious and totally worth eating some disgusting-tasting vegetables for (Broccoli must be disgusting if I’m being bribed to eat it, right?).

Is this the message you want to be sending? No.


What To Say Instead:

Nothing. As easy as it is to use a bribe to get what you want, it’s undermining your child’s good eating habits.

Yes, dessert is delicious. But broccoli is, too. And enjoyment of the former shouldn’t be contingent on the later.

In order for kids to learn to like and appreciate the taste of vegetables, they have to be given the freedom to try them at their own pace. And that may mean giving them dessert even if they didn’t eat their veggies.


3. “Try it and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.”

Why This Doesn’t Work:

This statement (although innocent sounding) packs a lot of pressure. Even if a child is open to trying new things, they still may not feel comfortable enough to actually eat it.

Trying something can be as simple as smelling it, licking it or taking a little nibble. It can often take up to 15-20 tries before a child actually accepts the food.

What To Say Instead:

Nothing! (Do you notice a theme here?)

I know parents think that by using this statement, they are encouraging their child to try the new food while giving them an out. But what the child actually hears is “So if I DO like it, I HAVE to eat it??”  This can be scary, so they may just decide to forgo trying altogether.

Try fostering an environment of curiosity about trying new things by talking about it outside of mealtime. I love using the book Green Eggs and Ham as a great way to chat about the benefits of trying new foods, without the perceived pressure.


4. “You’re such a picky eater.”

Why This Doesn’t Work:

With the freedom to experiment on your kid's own terms, your picky eater will grow to become an adventurous foodie! I use the term picky eater for the sake of consistency but I don’t love the term. It paints all kids with the same brush when it comes to learning to eat.

The reality is, learning to eat a wide variety of food is a journey and every child is at their own point on the spectrum. So kids shouldn’t be defined as “picky.”  They are simply working towards developing better habits when it comes to food.

We wouldn’t tell a child that they are a “poor reader” when they are in the process of learning to read, right? Picky eating does not define a child. It is not who they are, nor is it who they want to be.

What To Say Instead:


Instead, be supportive of their journey towards healthy habits and don’t put them down when they are having a less than adventurous day (even if that seems like every day).

Often if a child is always told they are “picky” they will continue to live up to that label, or use it as an excuse not to have to eat something (“I’m picky so I don’t like vegetables.”)  For some kids, they enjoy the attention (whether positive or negative), and will continue to play it up because after all, they are a picky eater right?

With time and the freedom to experiment on their own terms, your “picky eater” will slowly move along the spectrum and prove you wrong! Creating healthy habits for kids seems hard, but with these tips, your little one will be eating more veggies in no time.


Learn how, with the freedom to experiment on your kid's own terms, your picky eater will grow out of picky eating to become an adventurous foodie! Feeding My Kid is a filled with all the information you need about how to raise your kids, from healthy tips to nutritious recipes. #fmk #parenting #pickyeating


The information on this website is designed for educational and/or entertainment purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses.