What Brussel Sprouts Can Teach You About Perseverance

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Sure you can try the “one bite rule,” or allowing the child to drown food in ranch, ketchup or BBQ sauce, but most nutritionists agree that the best way to get a reluctant eater to try a new food is to give it to them over, and over, and over.

That’s right, when it comes to presenting your child with a new food, behave like a toddler does: ask the question at least 20 times.

Research shows that it may take as many as 20 times for your child to be exposed to a new food before he or she will give it a chance.

“Do you like it yet?” “Do you like it yet?”

It really does work, even for older kids. After nearly a dozen times (and ways) of presenting brussel sprouts, my reluctant teens finally gave them a shot.

No, the responses were not enthusiastic, but one of my daughters did say, “These were not as gross as I thought they would be.”

In teen language, that is a compliment as far as I am concerned.

The idea of trying something over and over again applies beyond brussel sprouts. And, beyond our kids.

It’s for us too.

Trying a new exercise class. Trying a habit of not watching television. Trying to lose weight. Trying to control our temper. Trying to get good at something or to develop a new discipline is quite similar to the nutritionists’ advice on introducing a new food: at least 20 times.

So don’t despair if after your twelfth attempt to create a new habit fails. Just pick yourself up, give yourself another try and, even if you ultimately don’t become a passionate exerciser or a patient saint, and in seven more attempts or so you may realize your new habit “isn’t as gross as” you thought it would be.