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Do You Force Your Kids to Eat? - Page 2

post #21 of 55

The back teeth thing is pretty interesting! Thanks.

post #22 of 55
Originally Posted by sbarr_NY View Post


I have an easy and compassionate response - Oh, you only want to try one bite, ok - that's fine.  One year olds try one bite and if you're one, then you have an early bed time or cannot watch X TV show or cannot visit the friend across the street.  It's not punishment, but "matter-of-fact" - babies don't get very many choices.  5 year olds get lots of choices.


Actually, sending her to bed early, taking away TV from her, forbidding her to visit friends and calling her a baby IS punishment, no matter how "compassionate" you find your response to be. She doesn't really have a choice, does she.

It's like putting a diaper on an older child because she wets the bed "like a baby". It IS punishment and shaming.

post #23 of 55

"It's not punishment, but "matter-of-fact" - babies don't get very many choices.  5 year olds get lots of choices."


You don't actually say this, do you?


I would hope that this is an internal reasoning and not something that you share with your children. It's not compassionate, it's saying "If you don't behave the way I want you to, then I'm going to tell you that you're acting like a baby." 

post #24 of 55

My kids are great eaters, and I have to say I think it's because we are very hands-off. We have never done the "three more bites" thing, or asked them to eat their "healthy food" before their dessert, or anything like that. 


And you know, OP, your 8 yo really might not be hungry at dinner. I have an 8 yo ds who will often have two bites of broccoli for dinner, and that will be all he wants. And, just as often, he wants toast or a bowl of cereal and a banana and 2-3 eggs for breakfast, so I think he's just more hungry in the morning. Seems to be working just fine - he weighs ~75 lbs and he's as tall as my 10 yo dd and pretty lean. 


With my commute and work schedule, I'm away from the home for over 9 hours, and so a peaceful dinnertime is very important to me. Our kids help dh cook (we are using emeals right now), and then they will usually sit and talk with us for 20-30 minutes. I try to serve myself very small portions, and then I eat what's left off their plates (not always so good at this one!:)) or wrap it up for lunch the next day. Maybe you could try that, instead of just throwing it away.

post #25 of 55

yes i do 'force' my dd to eat. 


she is 10 - nearly 11. the rules that applied to food at 3 are very much different than the rules at 11.


dd has to eat what i give her. however i take into mind what she wants. we were going to eat omlettes for dinner. dd told me she was sick of eggs, but would love me to stir fry her some veggies. so i did just that and put those veggies in my eggs. after that she could not serve herself and then say she doesnt want to eat. 


nah ah. you eat what you put on your plate. 


i would never make pizza or burgers for a meal coz i know dd would never eat them. 


however in our house by the time dd was 6 she was cooking simple dinners. so i have solved the problems by having her make dinner. 


dd also has learnt what to eat. a balanced diet. since she was younger. so if she wanted something else she had to make sure she hadnt eaten that alrready. 

post #26 of 55
Originally Posted by FLmomof1/1ontheway View Post



So...I should let them have an alternative? They can eat oatmeal or cereal if they don't like my dinner? What if they choose to eat oatmeal every night? Should I stop cooking dinner? 





I also am one that forces and reading over your posts I feel this is not about food but about what they know they can get away with -IMO


I force, that means, you must try, and you must eat a portion of your meal or you do not get dessert if we are having it, if we are not having dessert and you can't eat what is served you wait till the next meal. These are not new rules, they have been since the start of eating. I do feel when you are dealing with children where it has already been set how you will react it is much harder to change and get them to except the "new" rules.


I do not have a restaurant, I am not a short order cook, I do not give an alternative. We eat what is served. I allow help in shopping, planning and preparation, we talk about what is and isn't acceptable as far as what we ingest and we talk a lot about what are bodies need and don't need (this has been ongoing as well). We also talk about cost and waist and my time in cooking. My 5 year old understands it at his level. I cook a various menu of items and we have a rotation and that can be weeks in-between for certain dishes. 


If I am making a meal with (for ex ample spinach) my DS does not like spinach, he still gets 90+% of the other items, he has learned to pick around an item in a dish and if he doesn't feel he can eat the rest- that's it- done.

We force trying, you simply can't say you don't like something if you never tried it and tried it different ways, that means a little bit but it still means trying. We recognize taste buds change and that's OK too but items do taste different depending on how they are prepared. 


This is my second and my first is much older and living on her own and cooking on her own, and she had so food issues, no weight issues and never starved.


If you are making pasta and seafood, change by the type of noodles, keep some without sauce but present it all (IMO) don't give an alternative main dish, giving enough items you should find something to eat at that meal, if they don't, done for the night. You have three, with what I assume are three different sets of tastes, not every meal is everyone going make everyone all the time happy, that is life. If they have eaten two meals that day and snacks, they are not going to starve. Allow each to plan 2 meals a week and the extra day is what you or your DH wants. IF they plan it, I would expect them to not complain and to eat it- if they don't, the following week they loose the ability to plan the meal and get what you give them or wait to the next meal. AND with the meal planing I would require X number of veggies, etc- what ever you determine healthy for your meals. Pick a main item, and require each to do the sides for that item and if one eats pasta and the other's don't, too bad, it's that ones choice that night and they know a head of time what is happening, again, that is life, it's not always what you want all the time. I would also have a zero complaint policy, you know a head of time what is being served, complain, leave the table, you are done. Your children have to show you respect and know you have worked hard to prepare the meal and that means, you don't need to hear how much they don't like it.


If you want to run you house as a short order cook (many do) that's fine, I don't have the time or the money or desire to do it, personally I think this causes many to have food / weight issues.

Edited by serenbat - 6/10/13 at 5:22am
post #27 of 55
I don't for the kids to eat... But I do request "one *decent sized* bite of everything, even if you tried it and didn't like it before"... They are also not allowed to say gross or disgusting. Simply that they don't enjoy it right now or prefer not to eat it. We've talked a lot about healthy eating and a lot about how our taste buds change.

This is also my rule when it comes my my daycare kids. I have always put the items on the little kids plates, but it's not until they are a bit older (3-4) that I really require the "one bite". I ask before but I'm not going to fight a two year old with it. But I do put it on their plate.

I also let the kids shop with me (daycare kids included) once in awhile and they get to pick out a new fruit or veggie to try. They all have to try a bite and I only but a small one but because they picked it, they are more likely to try it.

And probably the most important thing to me is to not make a separate meal, I don't even offer alternatives. HOWEVER... I don't usually serve them the fully prepared dish to the kids. Instead when I'm preparing the food I leave out enough of the ingredients to make my kids meals. If I make spaghetti then I'll leave our plain ground beef, a bunch of the veggies I know they like, one of the new veggies/veggies they don't like each to try and then give them plain buttered pasta.

Then I make the rest of the meal together. Except we don't sauce all the pasta, we only sauce what we are eating. I find that all kids tend to eat the ingredients to meals better than if it was mixed all together. I will also offer them the mixed meal but I don't require they try this.

And I mix up the ways I prepare things. My oldest won't eat raw or pan fried mushrooms... But if I roast them?! She can't stop eating them!

And last I always make sure that there is a healthy favorite on their plate even if it's different from what DH and I are eating. Often times this is carrot sticks.

If they are still hungry after dinner they can have a piece of fruit from the fruit stand or they can have some precut veggies.

What I do find is that my kids eat better at 4 PM. If I skip the afternoon snack, feed them a "cold plate dinner" (fruit/veggies/meat/crackers/cheese) at 4 and then give them a healthy snack & small treat before bed then they eat better.

I don't make food a big deal, but I have found ways to get not only my children but other people's "picky" children to eat a variety of things. I don't force things they don't like, but they are so used to trying a bite of everything that I don't even have to ask anymore. Just the other day I gave my daycare kid some red pepper which I know he doesn't like... And he took his "one bite" of it and he said, "I don't usually like this, but this pepper is really good this time" and ate the rest. Will he eat it next time? No clue and it's up to him. But I know he'll try at least one bite without arguing and the rest will be up to him.

Of course I make the adults do it too (me and DH... Not guests although they usually join in too). Because I feel it sets a good precedent for trying different food for the rest of life and traveling to different places as well smile.gif
post #28 of 55
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post

My kids are great eaters, and I have to say I think it's because we are very hands-off. We have never done the "three more bites" thing, or asked them to eat their "healthy food" before their dessert, or anything like that. 


And you know, OP, your 8 yo really might not be hungry at dinner. I have an 8 yo ds who will often have two bites of broccoli for dinner, and that will be all he wants. And, just as often, he wants toast or a bowl of cereal and a banana and 2-3 eggs for breakfast, so I think he's just more hungry in the morning. Seems to be working just fine - he weighs ~75 lbs and he's as tall as my 10 yo dd and pretty lean. 


With my commute and work schedule, I'm away from the home for over 9 hours, and so a peaceful dinnertime is very important to me. Our kids help dh cook (we are using emeals right now), and then they will usually sit and talk with us for 20-30 minutes. I try to serve myself very small portions, and then I eat what's left off their plates (not always so good at this one!:)) or wrap it up for lunch the next day. Maybe you could try that, instead of just throwing it away.

Ha. Ha. My kids are great eaters and we do require certain quantities of food and (i.e. veggies that are liked served first and need to be finished while the other foods are prepared) and we talk a lot about healthy foods but no, treats aren't part of the equation. We ask what the kids want for breakfast and try and accmodate but we don't waste. And I also have  a really fine tuned sense of what an individual kid needs to eat over a day. We also tend to leave leftovers out until bedtime and a lot of time extra food gets eaten. 


Our kids shop weekly at the farmer's market with us and one loves to cook but won't try much and one won't cook and one won't cook and eats almost everything. 

post #29 of 55

OP do all 3 of your children have very varied diet? is there some common food your children will all eat? or do they all like something different.


I have to say I do object to cereal. esp. for dinner. it is a form of 'sugar'. you are getting ready to 'work'. so oatmeal or cereal (esp. with sweetner of any kind, whether direct sugar or organic raisins) would be a huge no no at our house.


I have an only so its just her and me. so not too complicated. but she has constant sleepovers and most of her friends are picky eaters.

post #30 of 55

OP -I am hearing you are tired and not feeling appreciated. I think it is common for parents to prepare food for children as a way of showing love and there is an expectation that the children show there appreciation by eating it.


Yes I do enjoy cooking, but I am not doing all the work myself. That is doing my children a disservice by not showing them the real world.

By age 3 my children were making their own meals and snacks. Everyone helps prepare our family dinner. If dd does not want the vegetable I am

preparing she chooses and prepares another. I do not serve my children. We eat family style (dishes are passed they serve themselves) and they must eat what they put on their plate or wrap it up for another time. I never throw away food unless I burned it.

They are encouraged to try one bite of something new. If they really do not like it they will wash it down with a glass of water. It is not polite to say something negative.

My youngest is picky. He prefers his veggies raw. I always have something raw on the table. I understand about the "not touching thing" this was solved by using tiny plates or bowls so nothing was mixed up. We all have our food preferences and it is important to respect them. For example I leave sauce on the side so everyone can choose for themselves if they want it and how much.

I do not force children to eat dinner, but they must come and join the family at the table. They may have a fruit or vegetable for a snack at any time of day. The only "food rule" for the older ones is if they eat all of something they write it on the grocery list. If they don't write it on the list they go without until the next time.

I also do not clean up the kitchen myself. As soon as my children could stand they helped empty/load the dishwasher. An assortment of dishes/cups are kept in the lower cabinets. Little ones can wash tables and chairs. If they are tall enough to reach it they are tall enough to wash it.

post #31 of 55
Do your kids have any input into the menu? My kids wouldn't like the two seafood-based meals you mentioned either (although they sound yummy to me!). That doesn't mean I wouldn't make those meals, but I would have a couple of more kid-friendly meals in between. Also, 5 and 3 is pretty young. My DS didn't start becoming more adventurous with food until he was 6, and now at 8 he's a great eater. DD (who is 5) still has a pretty narrow spectrum of foods she likes. So some of it might just be something they'll outgrow.

One thing I did to give my kids more input into our family's meals was to write down about 40 of our usual family meals on strips of cardstock, and every week I tell the kids to get them out and they each get to choose 2 meals (I have 2 kids, so that leaves 3 meals for DH and me to choose). I clip those strips up on a board so we know what we're eating that week, and I space out the kids' choices so that about every other day we're eating something they selected. At the end of the week, those strips are put aside so they'll have to choose something else the following week. I sort of followed the design linked below, but it doesn't have to be that involved -- even just an envelope of card strips would work fine.

post #32 of 55

this soooo sounds like me a couple years ago.  after my oldest (7) was diagnosed with mild anemia i was at my wits end and made both kids clean their plates.  after a couple weeks they now eat everything and its not a fight.  they know what they have to do and they have really come to enjoy all kinds of different foods.


and i also lead by example.  sometimes dinner doesnt turn out so well but i eat it anyway too.  its what we have to eat and it shouldnt be wasted.  the only time they get alternate dinners is when i make something too spicy or something is just too expensive to have them eat when they wont like it(this is rare and i cant think of any examples other than expensive stinky cheeses or things like sushi)

post #33 of 55

Excuse the off topic post but this is a popular thread so I want to hitch a ride on it for the benefit of the community. orngbiggrin.gif


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post #34 of 55
We rarely force dd (6) to eat, but will get her to try a few bites of everything, just to expose her to as diverse a diet as possible. Since this has been in place since she was little, dd knows just to suck it up and have a few bites of everything. I would never make her finish everything on her plate, or go to bed hungry.
post #35 of 55

I have one very picky eater (he has always has been), one child who will try anything, and one who is somewhere in the middle. My very picky eater became interested in eating a wider variety of foods around 12; I also started involving him in menu planning and cooking. Now he is 17 and cooks for all of us about twice a week. I used to stress about the eating thing; I had to let it go. I cook; you can eat all of what I make or only some of it. Grab a sandwich or bowl of cereal or yogurt. No punishments for not eating what I cook. I don't like everything and don't expect my kids to. Some things they discover at other people's houses I will try and fit in to our menu even if I don't care for it; for example, my youngest LOVES leeks sauteed in olive oil with black pepper. It's not my favorite, but I get 3 for $1 at the farmer's market, so I will make it just for her. I would look into a kids' cooking class; it might open their eyes to trying things and make it fun. If you don't want it to be a battle, just let it go.

post #36 of 55

I don't force her to eat...but I don't turn around and give her a sandwich 5 minutes later either or let her load up on junk and fill up on milk...She does pretty good but my girl is 5 and she eats to live...she doesn't live to eat....

post #37 of 55

So many different approaches! I can only tell you what seems to be working for us. Before we became parents, I would cringe when certain families came to stay with us. Mealtimes were a pitched battle - "Eat one more bite!" "No!" "I don't like it!" "I don't want it!" I knew more than anything that I didn't want our family to look like that, not at home and not with other people. Fortunately, the leader of the hospital's parenting support group introduced us to the work of Ellyn Satter, the dietitian who wrote Child of Mine and several other books. She has a very common sense approach that has worked well for us and has led to essentially zero struggles at the table. I'll tell you the parts that I remember off the top of my head, but you can also Google her. She has a good website with a forum for interested parents who ask questions and give each other advice. Basically, what Satter says is that there is a de facto division of responsibility between parent and child. The parents must be in charge of the part they are in charge of, and not let the kids try to invade that part. The kids must be in charge of the parts that the kids are in charge of, and parents must not invade that part. The whole thing works, she says, because children really do want to grow up. They want to be big and act big, and if you handle it the right way, they will eventually learn to enjoy the food culture of your family.


Parents are in charge of when the food is presented and what is on the menu. That means you plan regular meals and snacks at the table. It means that you decide the menu (this does not include asking them what they want, but it does include sympathetic meal planning, including at least one item  that you know they will eat, such as bread and butter or cottage chesse or whatever) -- in my family, that especially meant not forcing hard-to-swallow things on young toddlers, or very chewy things on people with loose teeth.) I don't recall if Satter was okay with people getting up from the table to make PBJ or whatever, but I would not be, unless I put it on the table. What I serve is what is on the menu, period, but I can do that because I always include at least one item they like. Even if they refuse it - doesn't matter.


Children are in charge of what they eat, and how much (if any at all). Food is served family style, and children are in charge of what they put on their plate. Satter does NOT believe in the "no thank you bite," never mind a certain number of bites. She says if the kids see you or someone else enjoying something with obvious pleasure, they will probably gear themselves up to try it eventually, and like it eventually, even if it is liver and onions. If it is part of your family food culture, they will probably eventually enjoy it.  She feels that children who are forced to try unfamiliar flavors and textures are not getting a chance to mature on their own - and that forcing maturity on them often backfires and creates the kind of unpleasant family meals that I witnessed. (Just a postscript there - the worst of the mealtime families has visited us recently - one child starting college, one in high school. Neither of these kids seems to enjoy spending time with the parent who was the pushiest about forcing food).


I don't remember if it was from Satter or just from me, but making faces or rude comments about food is simply not allowed. If you don't like it, don't eat it; if it's in your mouth, either swallow or discretely use your napkin. You must always thank the cook for cooking, whether or not you ate any of it or liked any of it.


One other thing that might be helpful. When she wrote the first edition of her first book, the crazy food trend of the time was low fat this and low fat that. She recounted how one family that was incredibly strict about food had a hard time getting their daughter to eat, and she explained why that was making it hard for the child at that age, as well as being somewhat nutritionally suspect for that age. She got the family to lighten up a little bit and things changed. I don't see any reason why eating real whole foods would be a problem, but you might want to check your dinner menus just to make sure that at least some of the food you are serving is sympathetic to their current tastes. But after that, your job is done.


We've never forced, although sometimes I find myself overstepping when I know it is something that will be LOVED if I could just get it in the mouth. But then I stop and remember.


All that said, I'm not sure these techniques are why things have been turning out well for us. Some things are just innate. And some things are how you look at them - when I look at your description, I see kids who seem to be eating very well and are lucky to have a mom who is thoughtful about nutrition.

post #38 of 55
I'm in the same boat with food for my family I'm finding now that my son is 4 1/2. He's decided he doesn't like certain foods he used to gobble up. It doesn't help that there are certain things I don't prepare because I'd DH. He has serious texture issues. I never try and prepare mushrooms since DH won't even try them because of the texture. If I want to introduce new foods cooked different ways, I try and save it for breakfast or dinner when hubs isn't around.makes me a little crazy but it is what it is. DS has decided he doesn't like mushrooms. I've found that since my DS loves salad, he'll eat most veggies if they are tossed in dressing, even when he complains about not liking peppers and onions. I usually have him try one bite of a previously hated veggie if I've prepared it a different way. DH is usually a good sport about it even if he knows he doesn't like it, just to be a good example. Overall my kids get the nutrition they need but the variety has definitely lessened over the past 6 months. I usually just prepare small plates for them so not as much food gets wasted and make sure 3/4 of the plate is food I know they will like.
post #39 of 55

I just wanted to add something about different parts of the tongue and different tastes. I was taught that, too, but it never made much sense to me. It turns out that it's a myth that arose when someone did a bad job translating a scientific paper written in German. http://www.livescience.com/7113-tongue-map-tasteless-myth-debunked.html



post #40 of 55
Cattmom, thanks for your post about Satter! I think I've seen her mentioned here before -- the name sounds familiar. We take a similar approach here -- I just act sort of disinterested in whether my kids are eating. They know that saying "yuck" is not okay, and if they tell me they don't like something I murmer a distracted, "Hmm, eat what you like" (knowing there's at least one thing they like on their plate) and go back to enjoying my meal.

It's a good approach for the most part, and my 8-year-old will eat pretty much anything I serve now. My 5-year-old is still a bit picky, which I think is normal for her age. One thing I do run into with her is that she'll eat very little at dinner time and then be hungry for a snack later. She'd be happy to eat nothing for dinner every night and then just have a banana before bed. What does Satter say about that? I struggle because I do think a bedtime snack is okay (the 8-year-old often asks for one too, even though be ate plenty at dinner), and I don't want the snack to be tied to eating dinner (as in, no you didn't eat your dinner so no snack for you), but OTOH it's frustrating to prepare and serve a meal only to scrape DD's portion into the trash and give her a banana 2 hours later.

Sometimes, if the meal is something that can be left out at room temp for a while, I'll leave her plate out and if she tells me she's hungry I'll direct her back to her dinner, but that feels sort of punitive for some reason.
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