Smiley Faces and Prizes Encourage Kids to Eat Better

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Written by George Hancock Jr. | Last Updated February 24th, 2020
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I would not hesitate to place money on a bet that says upwards of 75% of children are picky eaters. My brother and sister were a little picky when I was young. I'm the oldest and I happened to be less picky than they were, so I think everybody wondered why they wouldn't eat anything. That led to frustration and probably exacerbated things. They're certainly not the only case of children who don't eat the healthy stuff they should, and the ubiquity of this problem has led to research on how to encourage kids to eat right.

A commonly cited solution is to simply provide many opportunities for you child to eat healthy things. It's about options and consistency. In short, you should put more vegetables on the table. At the same time, try to limit negative experiences. Paradoxically, the most common negative experience is when a child is aggressively pushed to try something he or she doesn't want to try. So, avoid being pushy. Instead, start as early as possible and consistently put healthy stuff in front of your little loved ones. Make sure they don't see a table covered in unhealthy things. Another negative experience occurs when a child feels sick after eating. There are a number of problems that could result in nausea after eating, so be vigilant and contact a doctor when you need to.

Here's a newer idea that's beginning to catch on. Try putting smiley faces on or near the healthy food choices available. According to CBS, a group of 297 school kids were at least twice as likely to pick healthier options when the dishes were associated with a smiley face sticker, placed beside them. They were over three times as likely to choose all of the healthier alternatives available just to receive a small prize such as a temporary tattoo. In the study, prizes encouraged children to choose low fat milk, fruit, vegetables and a healthy entrees over less healthy options like chocolate milk. The healthiest combination was called a "power plate."

Now you have an idea of how to help your kiddies improve their health. The next questions is "what's for dinner?" Take a look at our recipe site reviews and decide where to go for healthy recipes.

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