“Do you want toast?”


“Do you want Cereal?”


“Do you want Pancakes?”


“Well you’re getting toast then”

….. {Queue Tantrum}

Don’t toddlers and preschoolers love the word No?!  It’s a fantastic way for them to exert some control in a world where they are learning that they have some power.  How do you get them to stop saying “No”?  Don’t give them the option of saying it.  Yep, it’s that hard …. Firstly, you have to adjust all your own ingrained thought patterns and then only ever ask questions that can result in acceptable options.

On the flip side, asking really open-ended questions (like “what do you want?”) are  REALLY hard for kids to answer.  They start searching their world of endless possibilities for the answer and either they take to long (testing your patience) or they just say “I dunno”.

So to make it easier on you, in particular around mealtimes, try some of these techniques (in the moments when you can remember them):

1) Start your sentence that with a term of endearment.  It’s hard to get angry after you’ve said “Sweet Pea”, “Little Buddy” or “Honey Bun”.

2) Give your child the ability to give you an acceptable answer.  For example, give them two options like pancakes or scrambled eggs.

3) Work out how to give your child some more control over the meal OTHER than choosing the WHOLE meal.  For example let them choose options of toppings/spreads, like pumpkin & apple butter (recipe from our friends at The Kids Menu)  or cheese on their rice cakes.

4) Serve meals in a way that aligns with their sensory preferences. Or take on board these tips for a family meal.

5) Give the child some control over the shape, colour, texture or taste in their meal.  This is VERY important for successfully overcoming a food jag. A food jag is a rut where the child makes food requests from a limited repertoire of food.

Last week, we had dairy free & egg free zucchini pancakes to model the fifth strategy listed above.  The children were in control of the shape of their pancakes. We used the sandwich cutters in the picture to change the shape. Note,  we did some sensory exploration with the grated and sliced zucchini before introducing the pancakes.  Why do the sensory piece? I don’t believe in deceiving kids with their food as this breeds distrust. However, I do believe in building exposure to vegetables through various preparations and sensory experiences.  I also think these make a great lunchbox snack & love ideas that make vegetables more appealing options in the lunchbox.

8 ways for kids to help in the kitchen and learn at the same time, is a great article to give you more ideas to help kids foster some control in the kitchen.  The more control the child feels they can assert in these measured ways means the less likely you are going to have the “no” word thrown at you.

Zucchini Pancakes Conquer Food Jags | Play with Food


Sweet Zucchini Pancakes  (Dairy Free, Egg Free)


  • 1 zucchini grated (also cut some rounds too for the kids to play with before you grate it all up! I love making teeth marks in the raw zucchini and holding it up to the light so that you can see the “glowing” bite marks. – Yes, you can eat Zucchini raw!)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 2 tbsp of water for at least 10 mins and stirred during that time – you want the chia seeds to be all gluggy as they will be replacing egg in this recipe.
  • 3/4 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp of Honey for sweetness (add this to taste)


Very simply combine all the prepared ingredients into a measuring jug and stir well.  Add more or less flour & cocnut milk to get the batter to the consistency that you like (you can have very watery crepe style through to pikelet style).  If your kids are really adverse to the green specks of zucchini, you can peel it first before grating – however, you will lose lots of nutrients that are just below the skin if you do this.

Cook on a hot fry pan as per usual pancakes.  I grease my fry pan for this recipe with spray on organic coconut oil.


How to overcome food jagging is more comprehensively covered in “Goodbye Picky Eating with Simone Emery”.

Have you tried zucchini pancakes with your little one?

Happy Eating!



%d bloggers like this: