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Research Shows Rewarding Children With Stickers Gets Them To Eat Their Greens

If you have fussy eaters at home, turns out there is a simple and obvious solution. Bribery.

If you have fussy children who refuse to get their greens or try new vegetables. It turns out there is an easy solution. Experts say it's as simple as rewarding the kids with toys or stickers.   

The study, which was carried out on nearly 600 children aged between one and four, who attended nurseries in Limburg in the Netherlands, led by researcher Britt van Belkom from Maastricht University, said it is important to start getting children to eat vegetables from a young age.   

'We know from previous research that young children typically have to try a new vegetable eight to 10 times before they like it,' she said.   

'And so we looked at whether repeatedly asking children to try some vegetables would make them more willing to eat their greens.  

'We were also interested in whether providing a fun reward would make a difference.'  

Those children who were rewarded when fed vegetables, ate two more vegetables than those who were not.   

The research, which used 598 children, split the kids into three groups.   

First, they were give vegetables to try and then a reward.  

The second, given vegetables and no reward.  

And the third, is a control group which was not exposed to vegetables or rewarded.   

In the first two groups, over a period of three months, they were given a chance to try a range of vegetables every day. Those in the reward group were given fun, non-food rewards, such as a sticker or toy crown, when they tried some vegetables.  

The willingness to try vegetables increased significantly in the children who were rewarded.   

Ms van Belkom said: 'Regularly offering vegetables to toddlers at daycare centres significantly increases their ability to recognise various vegetables.  

'But rewarding toddlers for tasting vegetables appears to also increase their willingness to try different vegetables.'