The power of a sticker

We’ve been working on good eating habits.  I posted a while back about our decisions to give up certain foods, or to at least cut back on them.  The last couple years have gotten some good eating habits off track, and I’m trying to right the wrongs.  My two boys barely eat anything besides breakfast.  I’m not sure what exactly brought them to this point.  I was one of those moms who painstakingly made my own baby food, full of nutrition for my babies.  My  babies ate good, healthy foods with relish.  One day, they just stopped eating.  With one boy we think it was  the transition from living overseas back to the States.  With the other, we think it is copycat behavior.  We’ve tried everything to get them to eat.  All the old sayings about letting them starve did not work.  They would happily starve, to get out of eating good food.   Junk foods were happily accepted.  After battling with one child for 2+ years, I knew that I had to take control back in regards to foods.   The first step was to stop allowing the unwanted foods into our home.  I did not buy many “bad” foods, except for the cracker stash I mentioned before, but somehow too many candies, cookies, and other junk made it into our home.  I’ve finally have gotten to the point of desperation, and have given myself permission to throw things out…no guilt.  I don’t want the kids to have it, and so I am not giving it to them.  But, now I have to watch what is offered to them outside of the home.  The second step is to cook healthy meals and get the kids to eat it, or at least taste it.   I have cooked good meals, but the boys just refused to eat.  So, in an effort to change this, we have instituted a good old school sticker chart!  The rules are that the kids must taste each food on their plates.  They do not have to finish the foods, unless they desire to.  The goal is to get them familiar with new foods, so that one day they will readily accept them.  When they try each food, they get a sticker on their charts.  At 30, 60, and 90 stickers, they will earn a treat.  At the 30 and 60 stickers mark, they will get a small treat.  At 90 stickers, they can purchase a new toy OR choose to eat McDonald’s.  The McDonald’s then becomes a reward rather than an ordinary event.  However, they have already expressed they would rather have the toy since it lasts longer! They are catching on!   Already I have seen such an improvement.  Aidan is now trying foods and eating decent meals at dinnertime.  Jasper is still on a cereal jag, however, we offer him a healthy bowl of cereal and then he asks for some of the meal! That is such a step.  Last night he was refusing to try some of our meal, so I told him no sticker.  He resisted for most of the meal, then thought better and ate the meal!  He wanted a sticker after all.  He wants to be like his big brother and sister, which I am using to my advantage.   This is such a simple thing, and you might ask why I didn’t think of it before.  The short answer is that I have, but my boys were not at an age to be motivated by this tactic.  Now that Aidan is older, he understands rewards.  Jasper, while not fully grasping the concept, is old enough to be influenced by his siblings in their excitement for rewards.   He’s just keeping up.  He’s still very much a stubborn toddler that would rather eat crackers all day.  Another good aspect is that the choice is theirs, but so is the consequence or reward.  I do not have to pull my hair out getting them to eat!  It’s working.  I’m buying only what I want them to eat, so there isn’t anything else to contend with.  I have even witnessed my daughter making healthy choices by turning down something unhealthy for an approved snack…on. her. own.  As parents, we are the greatest influences on the health of our children.  When we teach and model a better way, we will impact the choices they make.  I’m seeing that and that is a beautiful thing.



  1. Tim & Rhianna says:

    This is so encouraging! I’m going to keep your sticker chart idea tucked away for possible future use if needed…way to go, smart mama!

  2. kimmyskids says:

    Your kids eat so well, as I remember! Must be their smart Mama!

  3. nice! you can join me and others in a food challenge this month too if you want!
    hope this works really well.

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