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Melissa Joan Hart shares 'whatever it takes' to raise healthy kids

Valerie is a work-at-home mom of two school-age children. When she isn't writing, she enjoys running, reading and being with her kids. Her writing has appeared on Scary Mommy, Oxygen, Mommyish, The Stir and others.

Melissa Joan Hart on back to school, picky eating and the secret phrase that gets her kids talking

Melissa Joan Hart may have "explained it all" as Clarissa Darling and cast a spell on us as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but these days she is a busy mother of three active boys and owner of her own clothing line, King of Harts.

Melissa is working with Old El Paso these days, promoting its new taco boats, and she sat down with SheKnows to share her tips for getting kids to try new foods... and the secret that gets her kids to open up to Mom. It turns out these days Melissa knows it all — or at least a whole lot about being a good mom:

Melissa on feeding picky kids:

"My oldest one got really into Master Chef when my stepfather was on one of the seasons, so now he wants to be a chef! He's really interested in the cooking process, and that makes him try new things, which is awesome."

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"And then I challenge the baby, like, 'How would a dinosaur eat this?' If I challenge him to be a dinosaur, that makes it more fun. Whatever it takes to get kids to eat, just do it!"

On the back-to-school rush:

"I set some things aside for lunch so that the lunchboxes are a little bit easier, because that always seems to be the thing I put off until last. So if I have that done the night before, it’s easier. The same thing with laying out their clothes the night before. When I’m going in to check on them, pull the covers up and kiss them when they’re already asleep, I lay out all their clothes so when I go up to their room, I know that it’s handled. The only thing I need to worry about is whether they brush their teeth!"

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On getting her kids to open up to Mom:

"I find if I ask my kids how their day was, they say, 'Good.' If I ask what they learned, they say, 'Nothing.' But if I ask, 'Who was bad at school today?' it opens up the door to conversation like you wouldn't believe! That's always my way in — they like to tattle on their friends!"

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