Let’s face it, change is hard. It’s hard for adults, but it’s even harder for kids. So how do we go about convincing them that change can be a good thing? There are a few ways to make it easier for them, but remember this is a process so be patient and forgiving.
Often times kids are at the mercy of their parents’ decisions. They feel like they have no say over many aspects of life. However, they do have some control over what they eat.
This is probably why it can sometimes be a struggle to get them to eat their vegetables.
Umm… so what happens when you tell your kids that you’re all going vegan as a family?
Well,for me it was a mixed reaction. I got:
- “Cool, I’m in.” – KK age 14
- “Why?” -Kodeman age 10
- “No, absolutely not happening Mama.” -Kitty age 8
Here’s a little background on the three:
- KK- Definitely a picky eater. The trouble at this age is that she’s often not home to eat and is eating whatever her friends are eating. This means I have no clue what she’s eating a lot of the time.
- Kodeman- Has never had a problem eating anything. Literally, I think I could put dog food on a plate and he would eat it.
- Kitty- My pickiest eater. For those that say to have your kids cook with you and they’ll eat, I’ll ship her to you and wish you luck. She can and will cook anything, but that doesn’t mean she’ll eat it. She goes through phases as to what she’ll eat or not eat and is OCD about many things.
Now, I’ve never been the type of Mom that just says “too bad, eat it anyway.” I take the approach of being a guide for my children, but in the end a lot of things are their decision.
In fact, I’m that way for many things in their life. As long as they are safe, healthy, do their chores and homework I’m good.
I’ve always been there for them to ask if they need me, but I’ve tried to build autonomy.
The last thing I ever want to do is push health on them so much that they hate it. Yes, we discuss it a lot and they are very informed about what is in their food and how it affects the body.
But I want them to have a healthy relationship with food. And I know that if I push too hard one way they will have backlash.
Here are four tips I’m using to help in convincing my kids.
Convincing Kids Through Discussion & Education
I’ve always discussed things with my kids about the how and why of things. From how things are made, how things work within their bodies, what’s in our food, and why we eat the things we do.
The process of changing our eating habits to vegan has been interesting so far. Kodeman’s first reaction was to ask “Why?” So we had a PG-13 discussion about how animal products are made and the health benefits of consuming less of them. Done, he’s good to go.
Kitty on the other hand is not having it. We’ve had the G rated conversation. And we’ll continue having this conversation. It’s definitely not a one shot deal, it has to be continuously re-enforced through an ongoing conversation for convincing to occur.
Convincing Kids with Things They Know
Using meals the kids already know and like is a great step toward convincing them that a change can be a good thing.
Simply take meals that are close to the change that you are trying to make and alter them to fit the new style.
For us the first meal was a sweet potato hash (the only way Kitty likes sweet potato). I just switched out the sausage for seitan crumbles.
Next was a soup with lentils and banana bread muffins. Kitty is not a fan of soup, but that brings us to the next tip.
Convincing Kids by Offering Alternatives
When you know that your kid is going to need extra convincing (cough, cough, Kitty) have alternatives available.
My rule is that she first has to at least try the new item, but otherwise she can choose to eat something easy that she can make on her own.
For example, I knew she wasn’t going to like the soup as she never does. Instead she could choose from leftovers in the fridge, pancakes, cereal, or a PB & J.
What she may not realize is that all of those other options were also vegan. She choose plain pancakes.
This gives her a sense of autonomy and control that helps appease her OCD. Plus, it doesn’t add any work for me since I refuse to be a short order cook.
And yes I keep healthy options available for her at all times. She’s been known to choose a PB & J with fruit and/or whole carrots quite often.
Convincing Kids by Not Going All or Nothing
Giving kids a break can go a long way in convincing them that change is a good thing.
For my kids I’ve explained that if we are out they can still choose what they want even if it’s not vegan. They can still have their candy and cupcakes at school parties without fear of it not being vegan.
It’s all about giving them choices and allowing them to try to make the best decisions for themselves without feeling any guilt.
Choices at home will be vegan, but I’ve also told them that the all or nothing approach can be unhealthy since it leads to negativity toward food.
Overall, believing that you have given your kids age appropriate information and choices can go a long way toward convincing them that a change in eating habits can be a good thing. Trust that you have done your best and be patient.
Change is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. And your kids willingness to change may surprise you in the long run.
Do you have any tips to share about convincing kids that change can be a good thing? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.