You have two choices. You could berate the kid for procrastinating and tell him if he doesn't eat the spinach he is going to bed early with no snack. Or you could explain the necessary benefits spinach offers by way of fiber, vitamin B-6, magnesium and phosphorous. Good luck with that.
Actually, there is one other option. You could introduce him to the hilarious antics of a cartoon sailor who pops a can of the greens every time he needs super hero strength to defend his sweetheart Olive Oil from a bully named Brutus. And then he'll insist on a regular helping of spinach, minus the drama.
Why is it, after all these decades, we're still convinced this leafy vegetable can make our biceps explode out of our shirt? If "Big Spinach" wasn't in on the campaign, they should have been.
It's high pressure for kids these days. They have to know the material in school in order to pass the regulated state testing or else...or else. They still get to play outside and eat cake. So maybe it's the teachers and parents that are under the pressure. Still the question remains, "In what environment are children most receptive to learn, grow and be influenced for good?"
I'll never forget a Spanish language class I took. The teacher droned on and on about nouns and verbs, none of which I could find in the textbook. It was as if she were speaking a foreign language. The atmosphere was serious and threatening and, as a result, learning was difficult. The only reprieve from the pressure was when I raised my hand to ask a ridiculous question like, " Can we all take a break and go to the el-comodo?" Guffaws from the class, which was a bonus for me, but alas I was forced to repeat the entire process. Two years of Spanish One.
Kids learn best when they are having fun and especially when they laugh. And adults are no different. In her Edutopia article. "Laughter and Learning -Humor Boosts Retention, " High School teacher Sarah Henderson shares, "A Pew Research poll showed that viewers of humorous news shows... exhibited higher retention of news facts than those who got their news from newspapers...or network stations."
Psychology Today's writer Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. informs in her article, "Laughter Helps Us Learn," that there are many studies which show that when children laugh it enhances their attention, motivation, perception and memory. This is likely because laughter releases the neuro-hormone dopamine as a natural reward.
This could explain why the kid that can't do short division can quote, verbatim, every episode of South Park. That being said, why not use this powerful tool to teach the most important lessons in life?
As a speaker, sleight of hand artist and comedy magician, I sometimes get to take my show and technique out of the banquet and conference setting for adults and place it in the assembly program for kids in school. Instead of merely telling the youngsters to make good decisions and stay away from drugs, we employ the use of hilarity, impossibilities, object lessons, fun stories and a thing called, "The Say No Game." Don't ask. You have to be there.
Whether you are a teacher, parent or just someone who wants to influence youth for a better future in every area of life from diet to more productive choices to quantum physics, apply the art of the laugh. You'll have much better results and somewhat less spinach.