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Parenting: Putting “No” on the Menu

Date: November 27, 2018 Author: hpelc Categories: Educators Blogs, Parenting Blogs, Reflection Blogs


By Jasmine Park


I quite often hear parents saying, “My child eats nothing but plain pasta.” or “My child is such a fussy eater.” I also observe a few children within the who centre struggle to eat. Though both parents/families and we educators strive to provide and encourage them to eat healthy food, it can be challenging to have successful outcome.


I am the mum of 5 year old girl and I allow my child say, ‘No’ to the food at the dinner table. Of course, I encourage her and ask to her try the food first before I accept her ‘No’. My husband disagrees with me. I am pretty sure it happens in so many families and also in between educators.


How do we balance children’s rights, their ability to say no, with what us parents feel our children need for their nutrition needs and growth?


There is no right or wrong answer for this issue. It depends on what’s more important for individuals in parenting/educating. For me, children’s opinion and rights are important. It is important to respecting them as a human being and listen to what they say. For babies who can’t verbally communicate, they might turn their head or close their mouth to say no. They might say, “My tummy is rumbling” or “I really don’t like mushroom.”


Research shows that children need to be offered a new food at least 10 times. It means gently offered to children, not forcing them to try. As adults, we have favourite food and hate certain types of food, too. Wouldn’t you be upset, if someone forced you to try or asked you to finish the food that you don’t like?


I do worry about the nutritional value for children’s health and know it is important to ensure we are providing healthy food to young children. It is our responsibility to make sure our children grow healthy. However, it means not only physically healthy but also emotionally.


When children say ‘no’ we have an opportunity to teach them we are comfortable with hearing it, and that we will respect their decision. We can show our children they have the right to say ‘no’ and that it will not change our love for them. That’s powerful!