Several years ago, my oldest son was at the beginning of his first picky eater phase. Hoping to make dinner time more enjoyable, I asked a parent educator to share her favorite survival tips. One of the simplest suggestions she mentioned was the one that helped my son the most: she taught children to call healthy food “strong” and junk food “weak”. By using words that explained how the foods would make them feel when they were finished eating, kids were motivated to eat healthier.
I immediately decided to make the vocabulary switch in our home too. That night, I placed my son’s plate in front of him and pointed out all of the strong foods he’d be eating. We had a nice, two-year-old conversation about the difference between “strong” and “weak foods” and then, to my surprise, he picked up his spoon and started eating. No complaints. No food on the floor.
We have been using those same words ever sense and I’m convinced that they have saved us from countless picky eater tantrums. I thought it would be fun to share the trick with all of you by creating a simple, kid-friendly game to help make the learning curve move quickly.
To play Strong-Weak, I first gathered a few supplies:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar book (optional)
- A pile of strong foods and weak foods
- A long piece of tape
- Two signs: One that says “strong” and one that says “weak”
My now 3.5 year old son and I cozied up to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together. It was the perfect introduction to our game because the caterpillar feels so sick after eating the cupcake, lollipop and other weak treats.