I was surprised one day when my daughter didn’t want to eat a vegetable she had always enjoyed before. The reason she no longer liked this vegetable was because one of her third grade classmates told her it was ‘yucky.’ My daughter at the vegetable after we pointed out that maybe her friend didn’t like it because it wasn’t cooked the same way we cooked it.
A University of Maryland-led study has found that the seeds of peer pressure are sewn when a child is about nine years old. At that time the child is still able to deal with peer pressure, but it doesn’t take long before the effects of peer pressure can be too difficult to deal with, especially when it means acceptance or rejection.
Peer pressure can be a form of bullying that leads to some form of injustice. Children usually want to be fair, but they also want to be liked. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your nine or ten-year old is just imagining things or that there might not be a problem if he or she is uncomfortable with something. A parent who makes it a point to communicate with the child will often recognize the effects of peer-pressure and can help the child realize that the vegetables might not have been cooked differently.
Peer Pressure Starts in Childhood, Not with Teens.
Years ago I often saw two different but similar bumper stickers: ‘You Are What You Eat’ and ‘You Are What You Read.’
I’ve been working on a children’s picture book with vegetables as one part of the tale, that’s why this article in the Mercury News attracted me. As I read it, however, I thought of those two bumper stickers. So, for me that’s the theme of the article and the two bumper stickers come together.
You eat what your read.
You read what you eat.
Three books featuring food are discussed: “Yummy Yucky’ about foods that are yummy and foods that are not. Unfortunately, the yummy foods tend to be sugary. The second book is a Sesame Street book, ‘Ding Dong Elmo’s Here’ has the Sesame Street puppets looking at platesful of mostly fruits and vegetables. The third book, ‘The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond’ is actually an alphabet where the author’s intention was to get children familiar with the vocabulary of healthy eating.
When my daughter was seven she was afraid to eat mushrooms and beans because a friend had convinced her that both of them were ‘dirty.’ It took us a little while to convince her that by the time we cooked them they weren’t dirty anymore. The point is, though, that children are influenced by what they are told about food and books have a part in that.
What will it be in kid books: cupcakes or carrots?