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The Question You Should Never Ask if You Want Your Kid to Eat a Carrot

28 August 2012

I know better. Honestly, I do.

And yet, I still asked, "Who wants a carrot?"

Can you guess the responses?

"No Thanks."  "Not me."

I messed up with 2 out of 3 and the third one was on his way into the kitchen. I had to think fast.

Fortunately, it was the boy who eats anything, which also increased my odds. "Do you want your carrot in a long stick or cut into slices?"

"Slices," and from across the room, the one who said, "Not me," just moments ago responded, "I want a long carrot!"

Almost there... one more to go, "Would you like hummus or ranch with your carrots?"

"Ok, I guess I'll have a carrot too. Can I have it with ranch?"

I've found that, more often than not, my success or failure when it comes to getting my children to eat what I want them to eat is dependent upon the questions that I ask.

There are two factors at work here. The first, not surprisingly, has to do with control. This was a lesson that I had to learn early on as a teacher and that I have to relearn every day as a parent. By giving choices (both of which accomplish what I want) my kids are able to exercise some control and are more willing participants.

The second reason is what I call the "Five Star Restaurant Effect." Let's be honest. If you walked into a five star restaurant and the waiter came up to your table and asked if you wanted a carrot, what would your answer be?

My answer would be no. My assumption is that the restaurant has something a little more enticing to offer...

The same holds true with your kids. Their assumption is that if they say, "No," to carrots, there is probably a more enticing offer yet to come.

Therefore, if you want your kid to eat a carrot (or anything else that you want them to eat), the first thing you need to do is to make sure that it is the only option. If they say, "No," don't back it up with something better. Even if you do this consistently, they will still try, "Can I have a cheese stick?" "Can I have yogurt?" The answer needs to be "Carrot (or whatever you want them to eat) or nothing," or you will most likely never get a, "Yes," to the carrot.

Then you need to ask the right question(s).

What Not to Ask if You Want Your Kid to Eat a Carrot.... "Do You Want a Carrot?"

What You Should Ask if You Want Your Kid to Eat a Carrot

1. Would you like your carrot whole or in slices?

2. Would you like ranch or hummus with your carrots?

3. Would you like your carrots on a plate or in a bowl?

4. Would you like 2 slices of carrot or 3 slices of carrot? 

5. Which carrot would you like?

6. Do you want an orange carrot, yellow carrot, or red carrot (I recently found multicolored carrots.)

Or.... don't ask any question at all, simply put the carrots in front of them when they are hungry and don't offer any other options.

Or... serve them as part of a fun Bento or Muffin Tin Meal.

First Day of 2nd Grade Bento: Two of Everything...
 (with "double decker" cashew butter and jelly sandwiches.)

Muffin Tin Meal with kiwi, carrots, hummus, Dr. Kracker Apple Oat Krunch Crackers, Strawberries and corn chips with melted cheese

"Snack Tin for 3" Carrots, Pistacious, apples, avocado and pita crackers

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Bento Lunch

Also Shared at: Refresh Your Nest- Best of Summer


  1. These are great suggestions. I found that with my youngest, I always packed her school lunch wrong. It was all about control. She was 4 years old and yelled everyday about what was inside. One day I told her to pack her lunch herself. She smiled, said alright and packed the exact same thing I was going to pack. - Control is a big one in my family.

    1. Control is a big one in my family too!! Especially with #1 and #3. My oldest and I are having major control issues when it comes to homework... I feel like all of my parenting/ teaching skills go out the window when I'm dealing with her!

  2. I love the two of everything idea for 2nd grade!

    1. Thanks! It was an easy theme and my daughter loved it!

  3. Love these tips!!! It's so important to give your kids control of a situation, especially when it comes to food! My little guy has just started eating raw veggies and loves carrots like a bunny. Those look like some great lunches!

    1. Thanks Mindy… we call my oldest son a rabbit all of the time. Unfortunately he not only eats veggies like a rabbit in quantity but also in style! We need to work on manners with that one as a 6 year old should not really be eating "like a rabbit!"


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