I’ve always opposed the “dumbing down” of children’s palates via those ubiquitous children’s menus in restaurants, a topic I mentioned in this blog’s first post and a few times since. And I’ve seen in my own home how it’s impossible to predict which foods or flavors will appeal to children (as when my son passes up sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in favor of bitter kale chips).
Yet even I sometimes fall into the trap of using the term “kid-friendly” to describe various foods and recipes, such as those I feature on TLT’s Table. That’s why reading today’s guest post by Dina Rose, who blogs at It’s Not About Nutrition (where this post first appeared on June 12th), was a needed wake-up call. Read why she thinks “kid-friendly” is a “killer.”
“Kid-Friendly” Is a Killer
by Dina Rose, PhD
Can we agree to ban the term “Kid-Friendly” from the American lexicon?
It sends the wrong message, sets the wrong tone.
I’m going to go so far as to say that the term “kid-friendly” is killing our kids’ eating habits. (Have you seen the kind of crap that’s called “kid-friendly?” Read The Truth About Child-Friendly Foods and Are “Child-Friendly” Foods Really Gateway Drugs?)
But even when “kid-friendly” food is, indeed, worth eating, the very idea that some food is “kid-friendly” is a mind killer. Read Mind Over Matter.
This tip sheet from ChooseMyPlate.gov isn’t a resource, it’s more like a roadblock.
The term “kid-friendly” denotes that there are 2 types of food in the world.
- Food that is “kind and pleasant” to kids.
- Food that is “mean” to kids.
“Kid-friendly” makes kids and parents think that food should throw its arms around kids and give them a big, happy hug, maybe even a smooch.
“Kid-friendly” makes kids and adults wary of anything “serious” or “mature.”
“Kid-friendly” makes kids and adults steer clear of healthy foods.
“Kid-friendly” undermines everything parents are trying to teach their kids about eating right.
Labeling some foods as “kid-friendly” is like telling your children there are some kids they should play with and some kids they should avoid.
- Play with kids who are familiar.
- Avoid kids who look or act a little different.
Kids have to learn to play in all sorts of playgrounds…with all sorts of kids. The same is true with eating.
“Kid-friendly” is a form of stereotyping.
It has no useful purpose (other than as a marketing tool). It makes kids exclude the bulk of the food world as “not for them.”
I’m not saying that presentation doesn’t matter.
Everyone enjoys an artful presentation.
But your expectations affect what you serve. Your expectations also affect what your kids will eat. So open your mind. It’ll help your kids open their mouths. Read Feed Your Kids Like a Chef—Cooking Optional.
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Thanks to Dina for letting me reprint her post today. Do you agree that “kid-friendly” is a term we need to purge from our parenting vocabularies?
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