There are many things that are certain in parenting. Uncertainty is definitely one of them. Most people would say it’s far from the best feeling in the world. This series (starting today – ta da!) is aimed at bettering your perspective on it, especially if you have uncertainty when it comes to feeding your kids.

Uncertainty (according to google results) is a popular topic with many people telling you to banish it from your life. They will tell you how to “cope with it” or “get over it”. Even worse they will give you the 6 ..7 .. .. 9 no … (wait for it) 10 best ways to get rid of uncertainty. It’s nearly always written into a tidy list with a cutesy blog image to draw you in. Kinda like my image (thanks Canva) but I have a feeling my list isn’t going down that succinct and tidy path. So, what is different about my approach? Well because I’m sitting here thinking, UNCERTAINTY is blooming brilliant. Especially when it comes to feeding kids… the main thing is learning how to harness it and MAXIMIZE UNCERTAINTY PAYOFF.

Defining uncertainty

Before we get to pay day, let’s define uncertainty and then think about it relating to feeding our kids. I found this 30 min podcast by the Art of Charm a great way to open your mind to why we need to think differently about uncertainty.

In a nutshell, when trying to change (or simply consider) our experience with uncertainty it’s important to acknowledge it for what it is – an amplification of our expected emotions that will result from an event.  So, if I am hesitating, dreading or expecting a negative outcome – uncertainty will amplify those negative feelings. When you expect dinner to be refused, pushed away, thrown on the floor, insight a child riot (#itsnotthatmuchofanexaggeration). Uncertainty amplifies these expected negative emotions.

Yet, what if your child is uncertain about a new food? Their uncertainty ramps up feelings from past mealtimes. What deck of cards is uncertainty dealing to them? Depending on your child and their food journey, they could have found new foods to be hard work, difficult to chew, too smelly, too noisy, too wet, painful (in the case of allergies / sensitivities / sore mouths), too chewy, too bitter, too sweet – let alone possible stress, anxiety, pressure or feeling “bad” about not eating them.  Their uncertainty may elicit a response. A response that you don’t like, perhaps? 🙂

We don’t want to eliminate uncertainty

So, what are we going to do about it then? How do you know which way to go when you don’t know the cray-cray way?

Side note: Feel free to swap out “cray-cray” with your preferred expletive because I’m not one to start asking you to change which expletive you can/should use in your own mind. However, you’d be a saint if your parenting vocabulary hasn’t acquired a list of expletives when you are looking for that “thing”, that “way” to make it all so much easier.  Which way is the right “cray-cray” way?

The best/worst part of parenting is that there isn’t one “cray-cray” way. All roads lead to different places – not Rome – and all the places can be amazing places. Uncertainty is coming along for the ride, whether we like it or not. It’s just NOT allowed to take the wheel and drive you along the parenting journey. However, when we think about it as an amplification of our expected outcomes…. we can start to make friends with it and put our hands more firmly on the wheel.

Uncertainty and Feeding Kids Series by Play with Food - blog one: understanding uncertainty

Let’s amplify these phrases

  • I’m not too sure and that’s ok.
  • We can learn about this together.
  • We can try that and see what happens.
  • This is a great chance for us to get to know more about it.
  • I can’t be certain. So, let’s have some fun and find out.
  • Sometimes we can just dip our toes in the water. We don’t have to plunge right in.
  • Let’s do this together.
  • We can be a team and explore this together.


What other phrases have you found helpful to switch your uncertainty mindset?

For more information about language swaps around food with kids… head over to Positive Food Talk to watch a video by Simone Emery (Feeding Specialist) and Meg McClintock (accredited practicing dietitian), get a printable handbook and additional practical parenting tips in their bonus recipe & kids activity eBooks.

Coming up in the series…..

  • Why are kids so uncertain about meat?
  • When BLW didn’t go as I planned {Guest Post}
  • Is it going to be War or Peas? {Book Review}
  • Lessons from an astronaut on feeding children {anxiety and uncertainty}
  • When everything else about feeding kids feels uncertain, why are they so certain about carbs?

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