My daughter is 4 and she is one of the least picky toddlers I know. She'll eat crab, sushi, mushrooms, and olives. Most of the time rather have fruit than fries. Often, she will not finish a whole cookie and wants to wrap it up to save later. Once in a while, we'll have a picky streak or just refuse to eat, which is normal for toddlers. In general, Dear Husband and I usually pick our battles, and food is not something we want to fight over. I don't really know if forcing children to eat is the best way to handle picky eaters. I still have this childhood stigma with white milk... When I was 5 (or younger?), I was forced to drink mine until it all came back out. And from that moment on, I cannot stand white milk. While I haaaaate white milk, I do understand the importance of milk, especially with children, so I don't make a big deal and not draw any attention to the fact that mommy drinks water while daddy and Miss C have a glass of milk during dinner. Once, I plugged my nose and drank white milk in front of Miss C. Just once. But I try not to say "ewww" or "yuck" in front of Chamryn. DH is the same. If he does not like dinner or prefer something else, he'll just eat it anyway. He tends to eat what he doesn't like first and gets it out of the way so he can enjoy the rest of his dinner.
Miss C helped me with dinner tonight. She snapped the ends of the green beans while I was making chicken makhani (or Indian butter chicken). I opened the jar (because I have never made makhani from scratch before, unlike my brother), and as I poured the sauce over the chicken, Miss C started screaming, "Oh, yuck!" I remembered a blog post about a dad who said "Yuck!" when his son dipped his broccoli in ketchup and the little boy said "Don't yuck my yum!"
We then had a little talk about not "yucking" something that someone may like. I used peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for an example. Miss C said she LOVES PBJ sandwiches. So I asked, "what if I say "Yuck! PBJ is gross!" to you, was that nice?" She didn't think so.
As soon as dinner was done, DH came home, set the table and put rice with the butter chicken on Miss C's plate. "Yuck!" *sigh*
We also have a two-bite "rule." We encourage her to take two bites, and if she doesn't like it, she can eat the other dishes that are served. If she doesn't like anything on the table, then she can drink the rest of her milk and she's excused from the table. Usually, she ends up eating the grains and sides, and rarely gets excused from the table without eating.
She goes for a spoonful of rice with a minuscule piece of chicken. Her tongue barely touches the chicken and rice didn't even reach her mouth: "Yuck."
"We don't say 'Yuck', remember?"
After trying 2 bites of the butter chicken, she still didn't like it and finally said, "I still don't like it, mommy." Okay. She then ate up the rest of her plain rice and sauteed green beans.
We'll try the dish again, maybe next week. I am willing to bet that she's going to like it.