As a Health Coach and someone who is always reading about nutrition, I know (maybe too much) about how important it is for children to eat vegetables. When my first child was young, she would eat anything I put in front of her. As she grew into a toddler, she became pickier and pickier – which is normal. Knowing that children aren’t usually excited about vegetables I did my best to make recipes that were enticing to a toddler. Some recipes worked and some did not, salad was particularly uninteresting to her. Then something happened by accident that changed that.
My daughter eats her vegetables now and has been for a while but it was a long slow road to get her there. Salad was never something on the menu for her, she has never eaten it willingly. Recently, she came home from school with some peas that she had planted in a small bowl. The teacher said (in front of her) to snip off the pea shoots and eat them in a salad. So we watched the pea shoots grow and they got nice and tall. One evening I was cooking dinner and had her set the table. Her pea plant was on the table and she said, “Oh Mommy, my pea shoots are tall! I am going to make a salad for us to have for dinner.” Mind you, she is 4 years old. So I enthusiastically encouraged her to do so. She took her children’s scissors and cut off each shoot, rinsed them in water, put them on a plate and set it on the table. As you can imagine, she ate them and made sure everyone else ate some too!
I share this story because it’s a great example of how the simple act of growing a plant can have an impact on a child. We grow vegetables in our yard and involve our children in gardening but this story shows that you don’t need a huge growing operation to make a difference. This was a simple small potted plant and it changed something in her.
Here are some ways to get your children involved in planting and gardening…
- Have your child grow just one plant in a small pot (as I talked about in my story). Peas grow very easily and quickly so it’s a great one for children.
- If you have a garden of your own, have your children help you rake, weed, plant, and water.
- Make a small garden area for your child in the yard they she can play with and create her own garden space
- Get your child their own set of small garden tools (we got some at the dollar store)
- Have your child decorate their garden/your garden/their planting pot
- Let your child choose some things they would like to plant
- Put together and small indoor herb garden and have your child be “in charge” of taking care of it. When you are cooking, they can cut the herbs for you to put into the meal
Do your children like to garden or plant in pots? Have you seen this spark an interest in eating what they grow? Please share in the comments below.