Monkey See, Monkey Do? A DVD Promises to Get Your Kids Eating Veggies, But I’m a Skeptic

by Bettina Elias Siegel on August 17, 2011

One thing that’s surprised me about blogging is how quickly you get on the radar screen of PR people.  Not long after I launched TLT, my inbox started clogging up daily with sales pitches for anything and everything food related.  (And some of these pitches are so off the mark, it’s hilarious.  Remember this one?)

Normally I just ignore this stuff but I recently received one solicitation that was just so  . . . unusual . . . I wanted to share it here and get your thoughts.

It’s for a DVD series called Copy-Kids and, as far as I can tell, it’s nothing but video footage of very young kids eating produce.  According to the sales pitch, “It features kids having such a good time eating fruits and veggies, that when children watch it they want to join in.”

In other words, you park your toddler in front of the t.v. and make them watch other toddlers munching away with abandon on things like whole red peppers and entire heads of raw broccoli with the hope that he or she will follow suit.  My kids happened to be in the kitchen while I was watching all this, and we were howling at the sales reel’s footage of a child watching the t.v. and then “spontaneously” getting her own entire head of raw broccoli (have these people never heard of a knife?) and imitating the toddler on the screen.  Really?

As a parent who has had  her fair share of challenges getting at least one child to eat vegetables (a problem he’s now rapidly growing out of, thank goodness), I can understand the motivation behind a product like this.  But would it actually work?  I asked my daughter what she thought about it and she said, “No, it wouldn’t work, because those kids aren’t kids you know.  Like, who cares if those kids are eating vegetables?”

And that’s exactly right, in my opinion.  There is a “monkey see, monkey do” element to getting some kids to eat well, but the role model needs to be you, the parent, and the rest of your family, and maybe even your child’s veggie-loving pal down the street.  Your child cares deeply about all those people and, as kid/food expert Ellyn Satter often writes, he or she has a built-in desire to imitate and please.  So even if the process is slow, as it was in my son’s case, it’s the veggie-filled meals you eat together as a family that gets kids interested in exploring those foods.

Maybe a video like this could be a helpful adjunct to real world modeling, and I know there’s nothing new about using television to teach desired behaviors to little kids (think Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, et al).  But there’s something so incredibly heavy-handed about this particular approach, something so sterile and forced, that it makes me sort of sad to think about.

Hmmm . . .  after a review like this, maybe my inbox won’t be so clogged in the future.  :-)

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dina Rose August 17, 2011 at 9:14 am

I understand your skepticism about the power of modeling, but if tv ads can sell kids on Frosted Flakes why couldn’t this sell them on fruits and veggies?

Reply

Bettina Elias Siegel August 17, 2011 at 9:37 am

That’s a good point, Dina. Maybe I’m wrong here . . . have you ever used/seen anything like this?

I guess I just feel skeptical generally about efforts to improve kids’ lifestyles via TV. Like my kids sometimes still watch the Disney Channel, where there are these Let’s Move! promotions showing kids jumping around and exercising. And my kids dutifully watch them — sitting on their rear ends watching TV! :-) I don’t think those ads make them any more or less likely to then take a walk or a bike ride.

Somehow Tony the Tiger seems to have more power over kids than I imagine this video would. Maybe if they’d put the veggie/fruit eating into some fun context, like a story, it might have more oomph?

Reply

Jeanne @JollyTomato August 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I hadn’t heard about this one, Bettina, but it gave me a good chuckle. I think this kind of behavior is the kind that is best learned in real life. As in, it seems pretty forced to make your kids watch other kids eat vegetables on TV. But (in our case at least) it makes a huge impact on the kids to watch their slightly-older cousins or their friends chow down on vegetables.

On the other hand, if a new Star Wars sequel came out that focused on the characters eating vegetables, we might be on to something!

Reply

Cai April 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm

We’ve had some pretty stunning reviews:
http://copy-kids.com/press/

We have won two children’s excellence awards:
One from Dr. Toy: http://www.drtoy.com/product-view/?productid=119
One from MACT: http://www.award-winning-healthy-child-products.com/2012/03/19/copy-kids-wins-the-prestigious-mact-excellence-award/

We were approved by the USDA and added to their Education and Training Materials Database for pre-school nutrition:
http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/schoolmeals/Resource_Cafe/Resource_Details.php?ID=2226

Here is our press release for background information:
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/1/prweb9130730.htm

Facebook is:
http://www.facebook.com/CopyKids

Hope that makes you a tad less skeptical! In any case, we are grateful that you took the time to consider Copy-Kids, and blog about it!

:)

Reply

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