Kids Will Eat More Fruits & Veggies ... If You Pay Them

Having a tough time trying to get the kiddos to finish their plate, that is, when it doesn't include sweets? Experts say paying children cash rewards to eat fruits and veggies will do the trick, thanks to a little study throughout elementary schools in Utah that monitored such incentives.

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Is this really all that shocking to parents, or did experts stumble across some ideal monetary amount that would make a child say, "All right, got me. I'll eat that"? In case you're wondering, elementary school students who received cash prizes were more likely to eat what was required. This helped researchers come to the conclusion that monetary gifts are more effective than simple praise.

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It doesn't take a rocket scientist (maybe it does) to realize that children surprisingly behave better when there's something in it for them. Of course there will be many kids at the dinner table who turn their noses up at the thought of consuming those wonderful fruits and vegetables (gotta love a picky eater). There will also be those not willing to try anything new, as well as some who enjoy seeing a look of frustration on your face every time you try to put a fork in their mouth.

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Monetary donations to the cause aren't bad if that's what you want to do (I wonder if you can write them off on your taxes? Kidding), so long as you have the means to keep up with it. Researchers did reveal kids who received cash prizes for fruit and veggie consumption had higher reports of continuing the trend once money was removed. Then again, they did self-report, which might make you question who was really truthful.

I was a very picky eater when I was little. In speaking with my mom (I have two kids under 2), she told me that she and my dad didn't really push me to eat stuff I didn't want after the first couple attempts. Thankfully my little 1 1/2-year-old loves veggies (he takes after his daddy in that department). I guess the trick to getting small kids to eat healthy is to start earlier, as they'll likely deny a food several times before accepting it. There are also ways to camouflage unwanted veggies to make them look appetizing that could do the trick (stealth attacks are awesome).

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Regardless, I think it's important for parents to try and lead by example. I'll never forget sitting next to a child of a family friend who crossed her arms as she stared at her plate of food. When I asked her why she wasn't eating her veggies like her parents said, her response was a bit telling. "Why should I eat what they tell me when they don't?" Sure, kids need to do what we say (we are the parents), but there's nothing wrong with backing up our words with the action we'd like to see.

 

Image via shutterstock/ Dream79

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