My Child Will Only Eat Chicken Fingers! NOW WHAT?

My children are always ordering from the kid's menu. They need to branch out.

NOW WHAT?

Hopefully our collective national eating patterns have improved since my kids were little and kids are stuck on something else.  Perhaps, tofu or quinoa?  Can you imagine them trying to sound out and write quinoa (keen-wah!) in elementary school? 

But, kids do get stuck on eating one thing.  For mine, it was chicken fingers. 

Every time we went out to eat and they had the ability to choose whatever they wanted, they picked chicken fingers.  I didn’t think anything of it.  Until they were approaching adolescence.  Remember, one of my goals for parenting was for my children to be independent and able to navigate the adult world with ease and maturity.  They sometimes have to learn literally everything.  They don’t come knowing it.  

I could only imagine my daughters out to lunch on their first important job interview, and they order chicken fingers!  Geesh.  


In addition, I wanted them to try new foods and experience the world of culinary delights.  Well, perhaps just something a little more daring than chicken fingers.  Yet, I didn’t want to get into a power struggle over something so minor.  It came to me one day when my eldest, along with her dad and I, were out for a special lunch.  The menu was vast: salads, sandwiches, special meals and chicken fingers.  I said, “Jacqueline, you are now 12 years old and it is time to eat adult.  I want you to order anything you like.  But, no chicken fingers.  It’s time to branch out.”  She was so cute.  She studied and studied and when the server came, she proudly said, “I’ll have the tuna fish salad sandwich.”  Very good.  Although I thought to myself, tuna fish salad is a little risky.  It’s different at different places, might not always be fresh, etc. etc.  Not to ruin the teaching moment, I never said a word.  Probably just flinched.  Her lunch came, she ate it all, enjoyed it and I think, was very proud of herself. 

I remember once later when she told me, “When I’m out with a group of friends that are very worldly, I always remember to eat Adult.”

 
Likewise, when my youngest was in high school and had the good fortune to go on a high school trip to Europe, when giving her advice about the trip, I said, “Just eat everything! At least try it.  You’ll see foods you’ve never seen before and you may never go that way again.”  When she got home, she said, “Mom, so many times, when we would sit down to eat, I remembered what you said.  What the heck, I tried everything!  It was fun.  And when we got to one place and they had Fettucini con Pollo, I said, "Why, my mom makes that.  It’s great!  Everyone tried it.” 

Kids do really listen to us, we just don’t always know it.  I call that success, that’s what!