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You’ve just spent the last exhausting six hours preparing an elaborate feast for your entire extended family. Every platter you own is overflowing with delectable goodies to celebrate the holiday. At long last, you sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor and you hear:

“That looks gross.”

“The foods are TOUCHING.”

“I don’t like mashed potatoes.”

It’s enough to make any mom cry.

Even worse, it’s mortifying to hear those words spring out of your child’s mouth when someone else just went through all that effort to provide such a glorious meal.

‘Tis the season for fancy manners and an appreciation for the hard work that goes into holiday preparations. As moms to picky eaters, where do we even start?

1. Teach your child to compliment the chef right at the beginning of the meal.

Good manners start with an appreciation for the trouble that someone else has gone to on your behalf. Those first moments at the table are not the right place to be nitpicking over the food. Help your child to know how to compliment the chef for all the hard work right as the meal begins:

“Wow! Look at all this food! Thank you so much for making this meal for us.”

2. Teach your child how to give a compliment—even when they don’t think they’ll like the food.

Even if the table isn’t set with kid-friendly favorites, children can always find something pleasant to say to the chef. It just requires a little extra thoughtfulness and creativity. Practice this polite phrase before the holiday: “Something smells so good! I am curious to try it.”

3. Help your child develop an appreciation for the hard work cooking a meal takes.

The sincerest flattery comes from real experience. When a child prepares a real meal for the family, he experiences firsthand how much thought and effort dinner actually involves. From the planning and prepping to the cooking and serving, there are so many elements that make up a family meal. It’s not just about any one particular food on a plate.

The Ultimate Kids’ Cookbook is filled with real meals for real families that kids can easily prepare with a little help from their parents. The recipes inside help foster independence in kids by offering lessons not only on basic kitchen skills but also how to be an enthusiastic diner at the family table.

And best of all? Children who cook their own dinners are far more invested in the tasting of the final dish. The best way to encourage a picky eater is to give them control over what goes into the pot. Even when they don’t think they like mashed potatoes, it’s a lot harder to avoid tasting them when they held the masher and whipped them up themselves!