AAAGH! I'm so at my wit's end with my two kids (5 and 3) and they're dinnertime behavior and eating. They've never been easy to feed, never eaten large amounts of food, and never been accepting of the "one bite" rule. So not only do I have two very selective eaters, I also have a five year old who still, despite us talking to her many times, does the "ooh gross I'm NOT Eating that!" rather than politely choosing something she does want to try. And my three year old is a challenge to even get to the table, let alone sit and actually eat. He ends up in tears, in his room, hollering while we try to maintain some normalcy at a family dinnertable. I'm so frustrated and detest dinnertime because of all this. It's not just the picky eating, but it's also the behavior they have that is beyond irritating and embarrassing. I get so nervous when family visits because I know they'll be judgmental (and they have good reason to be!) and I totally avoid mealtimes with friends which is pretty sad. We also have a 2 week vacation with family soon and I'm SO dreading feeding my children in front of them, RATHER than looking forward to a vacation with family. How messed up is that?!
I've read many books and we've tried the following without success:
letting them help choose and prepare the meals
growing our own veggies
encouraging a one-bite trial
insisting upon a one-bite trial (how on earth can one make them actually try?)
excusing them from the table when they're disruptive, rude, etc. but all that does is let them get off without eating a thing
bribing (when desperate..i know, this is the worst and it only actually works on my oldest child anyway)
saving the plate and offering it (warmed up of course) later in the evening or at bedtime
Clearly, we're doing something wrong because this has gotten so bad. I cook simple things and try to create success by offering at least one thing they like, but it's gotten us into such a rut and so limited on their diet. If I can't force them to try a food, then how can they learn to accept it or like it?
I know my kids aren't hearty eaters and that's okay. What I want is to be able to offer more variety and hopefully get them to actually try it, and I want some respect and politeness at the table. Tips, hints, criticisms welcome. I just need a changed approach! TIA!