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What do you do when they don't want to eat their dinner? - Page 2

post #21 of 267
I'm with Greaseball. I'll make something else. Nothing elaborate, but certainly mac and cheese. I would hope she wouldn't need to scream to get some food she likes.

When Rain was 5 and 6 she literally ate about 6 main dish-type things - bean burritos; peanut butter, wheat germ, and honey sandwiches; veggie potstickers, and I guess a few more. She did not eat mac and cheese.

I read somewhere about how it was biologically wise for children to stick to the same, safe foods, and that was why they did it. Small children's immune systems are complete until 6 or so, so while they're weaning (or weaned) but not immunologically mature, it makes perfect sense to stick with the tried and true.

Between 6 and 8 Rain's palate expanded at a slow, steady rate, just by having things available and offering them, no pressure. Now she eats a pretty wide range of foods. She doesn't eat red meat, fish, or shellfish, and she only occasionally eats fowl or pig, but that's more of an ethical thing with her (she was a complete vegetarian between ages 6 and 8). She does make a mean homemade hummus, and tonight for dinner we had a salad with veggie lasagna, none of which she would have eaten at 6. She also can't believe she ever disliked mac and cheese.

Neither Rain nor I eat much fruit, but I have a theory that we can't physiologically handle fruit esters, like an allergy.

Eating food you don't like feels cruddy. So does being hungry and not being allowed to eat anything you like. I try not to create issues about food. Food and eating should have pleasant associations, IMO...

For those of you who expect your children to eat what's served or nothing, would you feel differently if they decided not to eat a certain food for moral or ethical reasons, like vegetarianism or boycotting Ne$tle?

Dar
post #22 of 267
For me it is not a black and white issue.

I have heard plenty of kids say “I don’t like peas” when the truth was they didn’t want peas. It is our job to help their clarify the difference.

I have seen plenty of kids take a bit or two of food and go “I am full”. Then ten minutes later ask for a different food. I don’t think it is wrong to tell your child you said you were full so you have to wait or to make them finish the food they have started eating.

I include my kids on food/diner choices but at times I have said this is it :“Eat it or go with out.”

There has been times I have been so broke that box of mac and cheese was tomorrow nights dinner. Eat what was put in front of you because there was no other food. Fixing separate meals can be expensive. Some homes have no other options.

I have watched children that has told me they were not going to eat XYZ food. They have told me to take them to MCD or they would starve. They did this twice at my house and found out I was not going to do play that game. They started eating what was served, after a while I would let them substitute a little but not much. These parents would fix three of four different meals at night for the entire family to eat something. These kids were fat because they could manipulate and ask for the easy to make foods. These kids did loose wait when the parent got divorced and they started having to do the eat what you served or do without (parents could no longer afford the separate meals). So their can be a child to adult manipulation. We do not know the dynamics of the family. It could have been the that these kids were being “manipulative”.

My middle child (6) has reflux. She will refuse foods. I know it can hurt her to eat but I have to use some judgment. Ask her if she wants to wait and eat it later. I know the hurt foods. So if I make them I will make her something else.

So I do think there is a time and place for the “eat or starve” and then there is time you let them grab something else.
post #23 of 267
I haven't read all the posts yet, but with dd (she's 22 months now) I'd do the following:

step 1: try to see if she'd eat some of it by making it a game? Lately she loves to taste food, or dedicate every bite of the food to some people she knows. Although this works when she starts to get bored feeding herself, it usually doesn't work with new food.

step 2: if gaming doesn't work, I'll suggest a plain and boring alternative: you want some bread? you want some milk? And she'll be happy with those...

I wouldn't make a big fuss out of it though... if she doesn't like the dinner, somewhere I consider that that is her own right. Even my husband sometimes replaces the dinner I made with a simple piece of bread.

Fiikske
post #24 of 267
I think that you have to find a middle ground between respecting your child's tastes and appetite and letting them turn you into a short order cook.

If you start with the assumption that your child has no reason not to eat what you prepare, you'll have a much easier time. I see lots of parents who seem to think that children need extra incentives to simply eat food, which is ridiculous if you think about it. Humans get hungry and they need to eat. Starting out a child's experience with food by making them special meals probably results in a child who is much pickier than she would be naturally (because some children are naturally picky) and expects every meal to be comprised of only her very favorite foods. I really think too many people have been brainwashed by the media and think children will not like anything other than mac and cheese, pizza, hot dogs, and pbj sandwiches. Look at any school lunch menu and see how true this is...

I often tell my daughter that the foods available for dinner may not be her favorites, but that is not the same as truly disliking them. She understands, and I trust that when she says she really doesn't like something, she means it. I try to make meals that will please all three members of our family, and when I want to make something that DH and I llike but she does not, I will make her something else - for example, she dislikes zucchini, so I might make a small dish of another veggie just for her. And of course, at least once a week I make one her very favorite dinners - none of which are "kiddie food," by the way.

As far as how much she eats? That's pretty much up to her, but when she eats two bites of dinner and says she's done, she knows she won't be getting something different twenty minutes later. I do try to make sure she is hungry at dinnertime, though, so I tend to not give a lot of afternoon snacks. If she's really hungry at, say, 5 p.m., I might give her some raw bits of veggies to munch as I cut up the rest for dinner.

I don't know if people would criticze the way I do things, but here's my proof that it works - my daughter has a healthier diet than 99% of the kids I know. Part of that might be luck, but not all!
post #25 of 267
kava wrote:

Quote:
I see telling a child they have no choice but to eat what you served them or go hungry to be forcing them to eat what you served. Choosing between eating something you don't like or going hungry is not a choice, it's a threat. That is not gentle discipline.
Thank you, very well put.

maya wrote:



Quote:
Her studies also show that people who are not given a chance to let go of "safe foods" in childhood often become people who are afraid of new foods as adults (Interetingly the same thing happens when children are forced to eat a food, rather than being told that it is their choice.)
Maya this approach is completely subjective, and it borders on food control issues that are IMO about the parent, not the child. There are also known connections between obesity and an inability to listen to your own body signals with food.

To say that it is a good idea to withhold "safe" foods on principle, defys justification as gentle parenting, or even good long term planning.

I disagree that it is the "job" of the parent to make their child the sort who happily eats whatever the parent wants them to eat.

Children in simpler societies ate one thing for the better part of 2 years. Breastmilk.

The foods eaten by indigineous people are limited to the region in which they live.

It is not at ALL unusual for children the world over the eat the same thing for dinner, ever day, their entire childhood.

An american child with a personal preference for, say, 5 or 6 basic meals is IMO absolutely normal.

You CAN deal with problem area's respectfully. My son has a cardiac condition, and stopping gaining weight altogether two years ago. We talked about it and came up with some foods he liked that were high fat, high protein, and he agreed to eat at least 5 times a day (3 meals plus snacks). After six months this worked and he gained several pounds. There were a few items I thought would help him gain, and he was iffy about them. I told him I really felt it was important he try, and he said he would agree to try. He wound up adding a few things to his regular diet as a result. Some, he tried, hated and didn't have again.

No need to work against him, but just to work together.
post #26 of 267
Quote:
An american child with a personal preference for, say, 5 or 6 basic meals is IMO absolutely normal.
Don't some of us have just a few favorite meals they eat regularly? Dinner in our house is usually one of these: meat/potatoes or rice/veggies, pasta/meat/salad, soup/salad/bread, or hamburgers. What's wrong with that? I don't feel the need to deprive myself of all these foods and just eat some other kind of food that I would not automatically choose, all in the name of exploration. I have found what works for me and will stick with it until I change my mind. Why is it not OK for children to do the same?

We talk about letting children have access to breastmilk until they are ready to let it go, but then we're supposed to deny them macaroni and cheese before they want to let that go?
post #27 of 267
ITA with maya. I cook dinner and the kids can either eat it or not eat it. But an alternative isn't offered, unless I'm making something that I know they don't like. With our dinners, there is always a side dish, like rice or pasta, that I know the kids like to eat. If they aren't hungry, I'll put the food in the fridge and they can eat it later. There is also fruit, which we serve after dinner.

We all eat the same meal. If dh has cooked a meal that I'm not wild about, I eat it anyway. I don't make myself something different. The same goes for my cooking.

My kids are pretty good about trying new things. I have seen with my older daughter many times that it really is true that in order to develop a liking for a new food, you need to taste it a few times. There are many foods that she didn't like initially (before she'd really ever tried them) that she will now ask for.
post #28 of 267
We are struggling with this in our house- dh says he (ds1-age 6) needs to eat something other than just carbos ie- he will eat an almond butter sandwich or homemade muffin but the problem is he says NO to his supper- ususally without even trying it.
So what I am asking here is-
how do you handle the 'I dont want it' when the dc has not even tried it?
And is almond butter and bread really sound nutrition? (he recently quit eating all fruit and he never has liked veggies)
I mean what about the need for some of these vitamans and minerals that are only in fruit or veggies?

And yes we have tried smoothies/vitamans/making food fun etc and he still won't eat. DH and I fight about this more than anything else in our whole 16 years together....
help!!!!!!!!!
post #29 of 267
Well here is what I do with 2 picky eaters.
Usually before begin cooking I ask "What do we want for dinner" and give at least 2 choices and go from there. I will usually make 2 sides and they have to eat all of one and a bite from the other. If I know dinner will be huge deal because it is something they hate they both know how to make a sandwich because I already cooked once. That usually only happens when we are low on groceries and there are not many choices. But every often I do make them eat even if they don't like it, and I always make them them take at least a bite or two from a new food. I do not think it is a good idea to raise children who are scared to try new things.

jennifer
post #30 of 267
my 21mo DS has tons and tons of food issues and mealtime used to be an enormous stress for me. he doesn't try new foods, he gags and then pukes on most foods that he doesn't know very well, and has only demonstrated real hunger for food a few times in his life (other than for nursing)...it used to stress me out so much that i'd be in a horrible mood most days bc he wasn't eating. but i've slowly learned to chill the heck out. he's getting my breastmilk, the only "unhealthy" food he's ever given is french fries and that's once a month, if that...he almost never eats what we're eating because he won't try it. i usually put a little bit of our food on his tray anyway, but 99.99999% of the time he won't touch it. so what? he's eating his own healthy foods and i'm content with that. when he's older we'll try some new strategies but for now, i'm ok with it for the most part. don't get me wrong, i'll never stop trying to gently encourage him to try new things but i'm not gonna get bent out of shape about it.

oh, the most recent strategy we've tried to get him to taste a new food is that we told him to give the food a kiss. he did and some of it got on his lips, so he licked it off and found out that he liked it. SCORE!!!!!!
post #31 of 267
I make dinner and sometimes my son likes it and sometimes he just isn't hungry so I don't stress over it.
post #32 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveBeads
If my dd doesn't want to eat her dinner, she doesn't have to eat her dinner.

If I make her something and she doesn't want it, I offer her an easy alternative (sandwich, yogurt, etc.) and she can have it.

I am blessed - my dd is extremely easy about eating. When she doesn't want to eat something, I take it seriously and offer her an alternative. I wouldn't cook her a separate meal but I don't have a problem offering her an alternative.

Oh, and I never urge her to eat one more bite. How does anyone determine when someone else is full?

I do the exact same thing with my dd.

I also look at her intake for the week, not just a day. Sometimes she eats like a bird, but eventually has a day or two of eating a lot.
post #33 of 267
It's amazing how much more goes on with food then just food isn't it. There are so many other issues. I am very lucky that I have not had very many "food issues" in my life. But my mother had and has lots of "food issues" so I'm familiar. Feeding dd is so worrisome. Is she eating enough? The right stuff? Why, at nearly 2, is she still eating baby food? She loved ravioli last time, why won't she eat it now? Why doesn't she like what I fixed.

I work really hard not to stress out about the way she eats. I'm trying to trust that she will eat what she wants when she is hungry. She always sits down to dinner with us, but she rarely stays the whole time. I've decided to go with giving her a choice of cereal/milk or almond butter and toast if she doesn't like what we are having. I always give her what we are having and let her decide. I might try to cajole her but if she is adament, I am not going to fight with her. She just fights back and our dinner is ruined. I also do not want to fix lots of meals or get up a thousand times during "my" dinner so the cereal or toast thing is simple and easy.

The thing that makes me feel the most comfortable is that I don't have any junk in the house. She will eat if she is hungry and if all she wants are cookies, she can have them because they only have almond, oats, bananas and raisins in them (Thanks Cathe!).

I really wish she was a more adventurous eater but I'm doing the best I can!
post #34 of 267
EFMom wrote:

Quote:
We all eat the same meal. If dh has cooked a meal that I'm not wild about, I eat it anyway. I don't make myself something different. The same goes for my cooking
Yes but you could make yourself something else, and you know that. You choose to eat what he made. That is not the same as making a meal and forbidding your child from eating anything else. The comparison would be your husband making a meal, and demanding you eat it or go hungry. How would that be respectful?

Please someone give me a reason why a child cannot make a healthy alternative at mealtimes, if they don't like the meal.

So far, I am just hearing that this is a control issue for the parents. No one has said why it will harm a child to have alternatives.

love2all:

He knows you are fighting about this. He knows it has become a huge issue. I guarrantee the more you argue over this the worse it will get.

Stop talking about it. Let it go. He will not starve. Really.

After giving each other some space, I would come back to this issue and talk *with* your son about it.

Get some books on nutrition and read them together. Ask him to make you a drawing of the things he likes to eat. Get some books together on health meals for kids. Take him to the grocery store with you. Guide him toward a few meals he eats that are well rounded.

There is no quick solution. You have to work together.
post #35 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
For those of you who expect your children to eat what's served or nothing, would you feel differently if they decided not to eat a certain food for moral or ethical reasons, like vegetarianism or boycotting Ne$tle?

Dar

I expect my kids to eat (or not) what is served. No matter what the reason they don't want something, they simply don't have to eat it, but no I will not make something else. But as I said there is always something they tolerate, even if they don't love it. Meat is served with rice or, potato. If they don't want to eat the meat they can make their meal with what remains. Fruits and Veggies are also always on the table.


But kids "safe" outs like peanut butter, pasta, and cereal are not there on an everyday basis.

Dessert is served evert day and you don't have to eat something else ("healthy) to get it. There is also a bedtime snack. No one "starves" if they don't eat at one particular meal. But they are given the opportunity to try new things rather than "hide" behind a safe choice at the moment.

Hundreds of studies show that repeatedly trying a food will increase by a huge percentage, one eventual liking of that food. However, this will not work if one is forced to put the food in one's mouth. It really does work to divide the responsiblity between parents and children. Before you condem this, read the nutritional studies. They are powerful!


This is not a matter of discipline. It is a matter of buliding a healthy relationship with food.
post #36 of 267
Maya,
Do you include your children in the meal planning or is this choice entirely yours?
post #37 of 267
In our house, we don't have official meal times and rarely have formal meals with several items. I don't make eating an issue. If he's hungry, he will eat something. If he asks for something specific, I will give it to him provided it is not candy or pop. Toddlers go through so many phases that it would drive me insane to try to "make" him eat what I thought he should be eating. Usually, I give him a choice before we eat: For instance, "Do you want pancakes or cereal? or another time it might be: "Do you want green beans or carrots?" I try not to give him choices like "Do you want brussel sprouts or french fries?" Obviously, he would choose french fries. Once he has made his decision, I don't make something else. If he doesn't want to eat what he chose, than he probably isn't that hungry. There are some times that he will change his mind and want something else, but I tell him that he wanted "so-in-so" and he will play a while and then decide he really would like to eat "that."

Personally, I don't think that anyone should force their child to eat anything...it just creates resentment and struggle. I have some bad memories of being forced to eat certain foods. You can really just keep offering different foods and let them exparament on their own. When they get older, let them help in the preparations to make it more fun. Sometimes just calling something by a different name or cutting it in a fun shape helps a lot. For instance, monkey brains instead of spaghetti. My son will not eat a peice of cheese if you give it to him in a slice, but shread it or cut it into odd shapes and he gobbles it down. Just make it fun and try not to worry too much!
post #38 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by love2all
We are struggling with this in our house- dh says he (ds1-age 6) needs to eat something other than just carbos ie- he will eat an almond butter sandwich or homemade muffin but the problem is he says NO to his supper- ususally without even trying it.
So what I am asking here is-
how do you handle the 'I dont want it' when the dc has not even tried it?
And is almond butter and bread really sound nutrition? (he recently quit eating all fruit and he never has liked veggies)
I mean what about the need for some of these vitamans and minerals that are only in fruit or veggies?

And yes we have tried smoothies/vitamans/making food fun etc and he still won't eat. DH and I fight about this more than anything else in our whole 16 years together....
help!!!!!!!!!
I'm assuming your son is refusing to eat because of the struggle. My niece had some food issues (I could go into the reasons for them but I might bore you) and my brother just acted like it was no big deal. She's 16 yrs old and still extremely picky and she's also very overweight. She's very stubborn and the more pressure he puts on her about it, the more she hides eating or the less foods she will choose from to eat. He didn't go out of his way to fix her special meals and just offered meals with the family like everyone else. Every once in a while he would give her her favorites: chips and sour cream, cereal and milk and spaghetti. He didn't give those to her at every meal though. Sometimes she wouldn't eat. Sometimes she would eat something she didn't like that much because she was really hungry. But fighting about it won't help. You can't force a child to eat, sleep or use the toilet. Those are things they have control over and those are things they will exercise their control over if there is a struggle.
post #39 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountain mom
Maya,
Do you include your children in the meal planning or is this choice entirely yours?
On Sunday mornings before I go to the grocery, i ask my family what one main course they want the next week. Each gets a choice of what the main course will be one day a week. (I have 3 dd's) I ask my DH for his choice one day. I choose another. I decide what the sides will be and bake a desert or two every week (though everyone likes those!) and on the weekends we usually eat out or at friend's homes.

Just to give you an example, here is this last week so far

Monday (DD 1's choice Steak) served with bake potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes, brocolli and orange slices. DD 1 ate all but the tomatoes DD2 does not like steak but had potatoes tomatoes and oranges. DD 3 ate only steak and oranges.

Tuesday: (DD 2 Choice Chicken in Soy Sauce) served with rice, asparagus, strawberries and asian slaw salad. DD's 2 and 1 ate all. DD 3 ate only asparagus and strawberries and a little of the salad.

Wednesday (DD 3 choice Salmon) served with sweet potato fries, Ceasar salad, apple slices, rolls and spinach. DD 3 ate all. DD2 ate all but spinach. DD 1 ate only Ceasar Salad and a roll.

No one goes hungry. Everyone finds "something" It works for us.
post #40 of 267
I just wanted to say that people with toddlers who are breastfeeding need not worry too much about their child's balanced nutrition or eating or lack of eating meals. They are learning and exploring. They might just want to smear yogurt in their hair at one meal or dump everything off the high chair tray the next. You don't really need to force them into mealtime schedules or cajole or convince them to eat anything. They are going to eat when they are hungry and they will try things eventually and they also enjoy feeding themselves and learning about tastes and textures.
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