My 3½-year-old son doesn't like to try anything new, such as foods or an activity. What can we do to get him to explore more?
Many children—and adults—are like that. Just keep introducing new things and give him time. With food, put just one bite on his plate—one piece of macaroni, one green bean, or whatever. Then casually ask him to take one bite, promising, “If you don’t like that I won’t fix any more for you until you are bigger.” If he spits it out, keep your word and don’t make a big deal out of it. Try it again in a month or so. And make little deals with him. “If you’ll eat two (three, four—whatever seems fair) of this, tomorrow I’ll fix _________ (a favourite food) for you.” Fortunately, there are so many foods that are nutritionally interchangeable that we needn’t get upset about one that is rejected.
In terms of new experiences, other children should be a big help. If you’re going on an outing that you anticipate he won’t like, try to take another child with you. If the other child participates willingly, your son is also more likely to respond favorably. Likewise with new toys…nothing makes a toy seem more desirable than having another child play with it!
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.