A parenting lesson from The Potato King

The Pediatric Insider

© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD

It’s easier to get kids to do what they want to do rather than what you want them to do.

King Frederick the Great (1712-1786) of Prussia had a problem. He had plenty of cheap, nutritious potatoes—but no one wanted to eat them. They didn’t smell good, they grew in the ground, and even dogs turned up their noses. No one was even willing to try them. (Does this remind you of mealtimes at your house?)

So he planted a big field of potatoes near one of his castles. And he had his guards surround it, and march around, and make sure to keep everyone away.

Naturally, people became curious.

After a while, the King quietly ordered the guards to be a little less vigilant at night. And sure enough, a few brave souls snuck onto the field and stole some potatoes. After a while more people were stealing more potato plants, and soon enough everyone was planting potatoes. And eating them.

Sometimes the best trick to get kids to do what you want them to do is to get them to want to do it. I’m not even sure that’s a trick. But it’s good parenting.

As far as I know, the potato story is true. Or, at least, I want it to be.

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2 Comments on “A parenting lesson from The Potato King”

  1. Jamie Says:

    I don’t believe this will get my 22 month old to eat his veggies. I’ll keep trying. He’s very rude, but very cute.


  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    Maybe not, but he’ll grow up fast either way– have a good time and laugh together, with or without the veggies!


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