Friday, May 30, 2008

How Teaching Your Kids to Steal Can Be A Good Thing

Yesterday, a very funny stay-at-home dad, Literal Dan wrote a post about getting his picky son to eat. I promised him that I'd post the answer to his prayers. (If this doesn't work, nothing will, but keep in mind that the initial delivery is key....)

Our kids were "toothpicks" as babies; there was nary a roll between them! Like many parents, when they were small (Kyle was maybe 5 and Kendall 2), we worried about getting them to eat enough, so we made up a game to play during dinner. Here's how it's went:

On the first night, as agreed ahead of time, we made a supper the kids liked (chicken, pasta, and carrots). Mark took a kid-sized bite of chicken on his fork and dramatically exclaimed,

"Boy, I am going to love this bite of chicken! I hope no one steals it from me!" (picture puzzled children here) and he faced left, engaging one of the kids, dangling the food out towards the right (where I was sitting).

Sneakily, I quickly ate the bite off of his fork, just as he turned back to put it in his mouth. So, instead of biting a juicy bite of chicken, he chomped down on a bare-naked fork, with another dramatic, distressed reaction. (I, of course, put on a big show of looking innocent for the kids.)

"Oh my gosh! Someone stole my chicken bite!" Turning to each of us, he asked suspiciously, "Did you steal my chicken?!" Of course, the kids denied taking it, and I, too, feigned innocence. (The kids and I giggled conspiratorially.) The game continued, with Mark doing this every other bite or so with each of the foods. Soon, the kids were asking if they could "steal Daddy's food, too."

At first, I said no (to make them want it really bad, of course) and eventually (as the days and weeks went on with the game) they were eating a ton of food (anything we were eating). Of course, Mark didn't get much to eat and dropped two pant sizes. (JK)

After that first night, the kids often begged us to play "the stealing game," so Mark and I sat across from each other so the kids could each steal from us. This game was so successful that we actually became annoyed with how often the kids insisted on playing it! Eventually, we had to designate one night per week to play it.

Years after we stopped playing this game, Kyle would sometimes ask to play it again. The game not only got the kids to eat, but also made dinner time fun. My kids are now in their teens, so we have no worries about getting them to eat, of course. We don't play the stealing game any more for food (it's evolved from our forks to our wallets :).

I would love it if someone would try this and let me know how it works. Also, I think a video of this game would be priceless (and possibly become a Youtube sensation under the category of "How to get your child to eat." ) If you don't have children, please pass this idea on to someone who does, because I know it's an issue many parents deal with, and I'm happy to share this trick.
Bon Appetit!

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