T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Year's Resolution...Where We're At with T Rex

Earlier this year I posted our family resolutions for 2011. To recap, here were T Rex's resolutions from that posting:

1. Try new foods.
2. Keep growing.
3. Take vitamin drops and allergy meds every day.
4. Brush teeth 2-3 times/day.

Turning in his stickers for a new RC Lightning McQueen car.
T Rex has number 2-4 down - no questions asked, particularly since he is off nearly all his allergy/asthma medications (yeah!). However, trying new foods was a huge challenge but recently has become much easier with a newly instituted reward policy. And let me tell you, life has been so nice since it's implementation.

Basically, we started with T Rex earning a sticker or two for each new food he tried. First on the list was milk. He has never drunk cow's milk. He never liked it. I breastfed him until he was 19 months and then no matter how hard I tried he would not drink non-mom's milk. In fact, he would not drink anything except water, not even juice which is fine - kids don't need juice. I did start giving vitamin D drops but other than cheese I was not sure how to get him sufficient levels of calcium, especially with his limited intake of food variety. 

For the milk, I started giving about 2 ounces with each meal and he would earn a sticker every time he drank it. No pressure but just friendly reminders that he would earn his sticker. After a few days he started to drink his milk. Now, he actually asks for milk. It's wonderful. I still award a sticker for each glass he drinks.

He has also started eating other veggies by introducing them in a similar manner. Recently he tried eggplant - something I don't like but since I'm trying to set an example for my son, we purchased it. He really wanted to get one when we went shopping and later before dinner he helped me to prepare it. Then he ate it. I could barely finish my portion and T Rex Dad would not even eat it. But our picky eater ate all of his! I have noticed that if he chooses the food at the market and aids in the preparation, he is significantly more likely to try and eat it than if I just put something in front of him and ask him to eat it.

We've been focusing on veggies as of late. He went from eating none to eating raw and cooked carrots, peas, and broccoli. He will also now eat pasta of all shapes and colors when previously he would shun pasta if it was the wrong color or shape. He's also started eating beans (black and pinto) - so glad about this one (beans and tortillas are a main stable). He will also voluntarily eat rice but it makes him gag and at times vomit. I don't know what's going on there - maybe a texture thing. I just find it interesting that he will voluntarily eat it - maybe the reward system is working too good.

In addition, I've also been awarding stickers for random acts of manners and sharing as well as using the restroom without prompting. Then the awarded stickers go onto a chart I've make. When the chart is filled he gets to turn them in for his special prize. Lately, though, he's been determining the prize ahead of time which is good so then we can remind him he is one sticker closer to earning his new prize. He usually has to earn between 56 and 88 stickers before he gets his prize. Generally, it takes 2 or more weeks to fill the chart. The kid really does work hard for his prizes. I think if we were to restart this again I'd probably start with having him need fewer stickers - say 20 - and then work upward to 56 or 88.

I actually really like this technique because he is also learning the concept of earning and saving for something. Differed gratification is something really tough to teach especially to a child three years old. We are just so glad we've found something that works for him.

 How do you get your kids to try new foods? How do you teach the concept of deferred gratification?


KLo said...

Stickers are amazing motivators :-)

My first grader has been one of the pickiest eaters ever. My mother had a recent epiphany (brought on by a health scare ... the child was having some serious dietary issues based around her almost completely dairy-based food intake) of having Belle help with the cooking.

It's been very helpful ... I made shrimp scampi last night, and she helped clean and de-tail the shrimp, then she helped me cut an onion. She put the garlic into the pan and "counted" the shrimp as she added each one. She ate a piece of shrimp and an onion because I encouraged her to "taste" her cooking (this might sound small, but I'm really not joking about the almost unilateral milk-based diet).

Good luck :-)

Loukia said...

I love the sticker chart, and I might have to start one up i my house for certain things, like every time my boys brush their teeth, clean up after themselves, etc. I did one for my oldest son when he was toilet trained, and it worked great! Also, I definitely need to increase the amount of veggies my boys eat!

Kim said...

We tried the sticker chart but I think because we had stickers as a fun part of play before that he didn't find much motivation in them. I've been very directive at the dinner table. Most nights Deaglan eats what we do (big difference from even six months ago). I just let him know exactly how much he must eat if it is something he's not into. Vegetables have been a tough one. He will eat broccoli and peas and corn and all kinds of fruit. He's always eaten pasta - we've only ever given him whole wheat, and he used to eat rice but lately refuses it. Sigh. I have a feeling Naveen will be a better eater.

Every night after storytime, I ask him what his fave part of the day was. I also try to list all the things I was proud of him for doing (being helpful with his brother, going to the bathroom on his own, sharing etc).

Jenners said...

So many good ideas here.

We have a picky eater too and offered him a rather expensive ($35) toy he wanted if he would eat what we eat for an entire month. He did it, and it was amazing. It makes mealtime so much easier. I don't force him to eat things that he genuinely seems not to like but he must at least try it.

The funny thing is, when he finally earned his "prize," he didn't really want it anymore. We offered him the same amount of money to buy whatever he wanted up to that amount. It was an interesting lesson for him to learn.

Also, I've noticed he tends to be more open to trying foods he has helped me to prepare or picked out ... just like you said. It really works.
You're doing a great job!

Lindsey said...

Thanks for stopping by! Glad I found your blog as well and I am absolutely loving this sticker chart idea for trying new foods! I've used sticker charts with potty training (in my childcare days), but never thought of it to be a motivator to eat healthier. I will def. be copying this in a few months! :)

Your kiddos are so cute!!!

JKMommy said...

I am DEFINITELY saving this strategy to use later on - you make it sound so easy! Sometimes I see rewards programs that sound super complicated. But I like this. :)

septembermom said...

Please let me know any tips for getting a picky eater to eat something new. Jillian has been so difficult. She's five and I feel terrible that she fights all new food. I love sticker rewards. They are wonderful motivators.

Crunchy Beach Mama said...

We've used stickers in the past for different things. Love your idea to use it for food. I will have to remember that one :)

Wondering your thoughts on the health of cow's milk. We are starting to shy away from it.

Caitlin said...

Great job Trex! Such an excellent idea! Thank you for sharing it with me a few weeks ago- it is working beautifully with Joseph! Sometimes now he even asks for me to give him "jobs" (clearing dishes, putting away laundry etc) so that he can earn a sticker!!