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How I convinced my son to eat his veggies

How to "speak in your child's language" to make getting them to cooperate much easier (and more fun).

Today my son was home sick. For his tea time snack, he wanted to eat chips, but I wanted him to eat something healthy, like carrots.

I gave him a plate of carrots, but he refused to eat them. "I want chips," he repeated.

At first, I didn't know how to convince him to eat his carrots, but then I remembered the advice that Karen Thurm Safran gave me when I interviewed her for our book How To Get Kids To Listen:

It’s so easy to scream at kids, right? And to just have an objective that you want kids to do. It’s like tunnel vision, where all you care about is the end-result.

But kids are different. They like to play.

The trick is that when you’re playful with your children, you’re working with them, instead of against them, because you’re speaking their language. They like to play.

Karen Thurm Safran

So, instead of trying to convince him with threats or bribes, I said, "Don't eat that carrot! He's my friend, he doesn't want to be eaten."

My son looked at me with mischievous eyes, took the carrot, and crunched it down.

I shouted "No, don't eat my friends. Luckily the rest of my carrot friends are still ok."

"Not for long," he replied, and started to crunch down on the rest of the carrots.

"No, that's my best carrot friend," I shouted as he picked up a big piece of carrot.

He smiled, and bit the carrot piece in half.

Now, apart from the worrying fact that my son enjoys eating his food more when he imagines that they are my friends, I achieved my goal of getting him to eat healthily without having to use force, threats, or bribes. And we had a lot of fun.

According to Karen Thurm Safran, the author of Parenting - Let’s Make a Game of It, playfulness works because playfulness is the language that kids understand. It is the way they think.

And the more you can speak their language, the easier it becomes to get them to cooperate.

In our interview, Karen shares how to use playfulness to get your children to enjoy cooperating, and also how doing this not only helps your kids to cooperate, but empowers them with a skill they can use throughout their lives.

Karen also shares some very useful strategies for how to turn boring activities into games, and how to remember to be playful when you are stressed.