Picky Eaters & Persimmons OR How to NOT Raise a Picky Eater

Picky eating @ Three Cornered HugAs a child, I was a horribly picky eater, and so thin…food struggles were pretty regular around my house. Fortunately, I was still exposed to a lot of different kinds of food, having so many multicultural friends and experiences, and as an adult I’m not so picky.

Still, I determined to try to change that for my son, and I am blessed to have a child that will try pretty much anything. While some of that has to be genetic (from Dad), I’d like to think some of my crazy methods worked:)

And so, without further ado, let’s get down to business!

1. From day one, let your child determine when they’re hungry and when they’re done eating. Now please understand I do think it’s wise to offer a child milk, and later, food at regular times. However, if they’re not hungry don’t force it. Note that I am not an advocate of allowing a child to skip meals only to eat junky snacks later. If my son didn’t have much breakfast when he was younger, for instance, I’d save his food for later or pack some healthy food if we were going out. Also, some parents try to push their kids to eat– but really, when’s the last time you heard of a normal child starving themselves to death?

2. Starting when your child is very young (if you still can), try to keep a lot of variety in your diet, and encourage your child to try it all with you. Don’t make a big deal about it, just serve it on their plates with everything else. Remember, sometimes it takes several exposures to a food before a child will try or like it.

3. Early on, institute a “try one bite rule”, and stick to it with a no nonsense attitude as if there was no other option. I do not condone trying to force a child to eat any more than that, however.

4. Make trying new foods like an adventure. Many times, we like to pick up something new and strange when we go to the grocery store. Here we have a neat store called Sprouts, where we can score good deals on a large variety of fruits and veggies. One day my mom was incredulous over the phone as I told her I was looking up how to serve persimmons. “You mean you bought them and you don’t even know what to do with them?” Yep, that’s just what we do. Buy first, then figure it out. I had never seen persimmons sold in the other 2 states we’ve lived in and we were curious. Delicious!!!

5. Try foods from other cultures. Okay, this one actually rides the coattails of the last one, but it was getting a little long. We’ve made excursions to Asian or Mexican grocery stores for years. You will see some wild things there (or they might seem wild to you if you are a US native), so for young kids it best to try to stick to certain kinds of foods to start. In fact, I guess I would mostly recommend sweets (even though I’m usually NOT really big on giving kids sweets) so your child gets a nice first impression. One such food is ice cream Mochi. Basically, these are little ice cream balls wrapped up in sweet rice flour dough. Yum! (there’s also a more traditional sort filled with bean curd, but try the ice cream first). Botan are little square candies made from sweet rice flour, and they’re so cool! You take off an outer wrapper and there’s another wrapper underneath made of rice that dissolves in your mouth. Kids think that’s pretty neat. Pocky are little cookie sticks dipped in chocolate or strawberry flavored goodness. If you want something less sweet, you might follow this recipe for Russian blini’s (like crepes), or you can pick up some Polish pierogi’s (dumplings filled with mashed potatoes, usually) at the regular grocery store in the freezer section.


Boys & Writing

Boys & Writing @Three Cornered Hug

“Boys just struggle more with writing. In fact I wouldn’t even try to put a pencil in a boy’s hand til he was 6, or maybe even older.”

This came from my grandmother, who was a retired teacher. The statement shocked me, but I took her word for it. There was nothing about kids that she didn’t understand.

For the next two months, when I did schoolwork with my reluctant writer, he told me the answers and I wrote. This way, frustration with lack of fine motor skills disappeared, and he zoomed ahead. One day, he asked me, “How come you never let me write anymore?” Boy, was I thrilled! “You can write…want to?” The rest is history. Well, sort of. We still have to do what we can to avoid
“Male Writing Fatigue Syndrome”.

After years of experience in this area, I thought I would share some of the things we’ve done to work around this very common problem.

For younger kids:

  • First of all chill out!
  • Find dotted fonts and print out pages with words based on a child’s favorite subject. For instance: my son has loved cars for years, so we printed out pages with car names on them. We would talk about the cars as he traced the dots. For your child, you may use the names of the engines on Thomas, or Spiderman related things. Even if he can’t read them all yet, he’ll like it if you tell him what it says.

Here are some fonts you might choose from:

KG Primary Dots (dafont.com)
Dotness (dafont.com)
LL Dot (dafont.com)
BP Dots (found at Font Squirrel)

  • When my son was little, his grandma got him a doodle toy very similar to this. I would say a glow writing app on an ipad would do a similar job if you have one.
  • Get a dry erase marker and let him write on your mirror.
  • Oddly enough, sometimes just an interesting type of paper may spark interest. A friend of ours worked at a printing company, and gave us a whole box of different papers. Some were just thick like index card stock, and some had textures or were colored. This really sparked an interest in writing and drawing at our house.
  • If you are a homeschooling mom, one of the biggest advantages you may have is the time and ability to do schoolwork one on one with your child. While you need to make sure that he can form letters, and learn proper punctuation as he gets older, do as much work as you can orally. This may mean, for instance, writing only during Spelling and English, and answering questions for science and other subjects orally.

For older kids:

  • The advice directly above still applies. We write out in nice proper sentences with properly formed letters for some subjects. For others we may do the work orally or even use a dictation app or something similar to get words down quickly and efficiently and then print them out.
  • IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) is a wonderful writing curriculum for boys. Very engaging. We have changed it up a little, however. If the paper is written right with all the proper elements the first time, there’s no need to write several drafts.
  • If your child has other interests you may be able to incorporate writing with those. For instance, my son loves to draw up his own maps (hello Tolkien!) and although he may write sloppy at other times, I notice that he’s very careful to write the names on the maps nicely. Same for drawing comics, or names on concept car and plane plans. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful writing he applies to these, and try to encourage it!

Hopefully, this will be enough to get started. If you have any other ideas- please submit to comments.