The Courtesy Bite: End Mealtime Frustrations with Kids

Feeding kids can be down right hard. Frustrating. Agonizing, even. 

There are times I think I’ll just give up and feed them a PB&J until they turn eighteen. Exactly how many times do I have to tell them to eat their broccoli or coax them with fruit, milk, or a bedtime snack? We sing songs about how broccoli looks like a tree. We call green beans green french fries. We even have a sloppy joe song. But at some point, I’m tired. Tired of reminding. Tired of coaxing. Tired of singing. 

We eat a balanced diet and it’s our job as parents to teach our kids how and why we do it. I do not make alternative meals for my kids, nor do I deprive them of an occasional PB&J for lunch. So how exactly do we merge the expectation of eating a balanced diet with food that isn’t stamped with the “kid friendly” seal of approval?

(Thank you, society, by the way. My kids now know what’s “safe” for them to eat because of your commercials, marketing, and constant appearance on kids menus EVERYWHERE. No, sweetheart, you may not have Kraft Mac & Cheese at a restaurant for $5.99.)

The Courtesy Bite

Enter The Courtesy Bite

My mom wins the award for drumming up this gem. Now, I’m reaping the same benefits of sanity that she had back in the 80’s and 90’s. 

Let’s be honest, the food issue with kids is really a trifecta of problems:

  1. You want your kids to eat a healthy, well balanced diet.
  2. You want them to actually try foods before dismissing them.
  3. You want your kids to be polite.  

My mom’s courtesy bite policy was easy and addressed each issue. Here’s how it worked:

  1. If there was something my brother or I were unsure about eating, we would simply ask for, “A courtesy bite, please.” She would serve us just that, a small amount. We were, without a doubt, expected to eat it.
  2. If the words yuck, gross, or any other childhood vulgarity exited our mouths, we would expect a large helping to be dished onto our plates accompanied by a clear message delivered via mom stare from across the table. 
  3. We don’t want our kids to think they can disrespect the cooks in our own homes with rude statements. We certainly don’t want them to let it slip while visiting a friend’s house for supper.

The courtesy bite is a polite way to encourage kids to try foods without offending, bribing, or arguing. We were given a choice in the matter, she was given the satisfaction of us eating the food without complaining, and we were polite in the process. Boom!

Still won’t eat?

We’ve been there, too. At our house, we know the words “I’m hungry” might be uttered an hour after refusing most of a meal, especially courtesy bites. So we throw saran wrap over the plate and stick that puppy in the fridge to be reheated later. Do whatever works in your house, but be consistent. After all, you are the parent and you make the rules. Trust me, your child won’t starve and they’ll respect your authority if you follow through every time.

Listen mommas, we work hard to nourish our families. I hope you walk away from your table feeling nourished in your bellies and souls, without feeling like feeding kids is downright hard.

Go ahead and sing the broccoli song, but only because you want to!

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