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anybody else turned off by 'force feeding'

post #1 of 81
Thread Starter 
I have a friend who I adore but I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see her making her 3yo dd eat everything on her plate. We do dinner playdates and each time I find myself biting my tongue. Maybe I'm the one who has it all wrong but my little people are 'grazers'. They eat fruit and vegies all day long. We do try to do the three meals but pretty much I follow their cues in regards to when they eat. It's more like 5 or 6 little meals a day. My son does not like breakfast when he wakes up and when he is ready to eat lately he wants brocoli or 'neen beans' (green beans) for breakfast. Weird I guess but I give it to him.

I guess what bothers me is making children eat everything on their plate even if they don't like it and saying 2 or 3 more bites of whatever or they can't have desert. Worse, threatening spanking for not eating or various other offenses.

I suppose this is just my own thing but I have vivid recollection of having to eat what was on my plate and crying my way through meals. I vowed long ago when I was a child never to force my children to eat.

I feel providing healthy, kid friendly food(i.e. lots of finger foods) is the way to go. Neither one of my little people are adept with utensils and we don't force the issue. I figure by the time they go to college they will be able to use a knife/fork/spoon and have socially acceptable table manners. At almost 2 and almost 3 we just don't push it. I have been called too lenient and permissive in many areas including the food thing. We don't subscribe to an authoritarian parenting style so "making them listen" does not appeal to me.

Any other Mammas out there struggle with different parenting styles and biting your tongue?

Sorry if seems so 'scattered' I am doing a few things all at once. Sorry.
post #2 of 81
Yes- not a fan of force feeding. I've even had a friend try to do "airplane" with my almost 3 yo! I knew my dd would just spit out what she didn't like (texture issues) so I let her do it, but I wouldn't again. I was a healthy size when I was little... then my stepmom had a "clean your plate" policy and I became very emotional about food and developed a weight problem. I think it's a horrible thing to do to children, to force them to eat.
post #3 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by mom4emnxani View Post
Maybe I'm the one who has it all wrong but my little people are 'grazers'. They eat fruit and vegies all day long. We do try to do the three meals but pretty much I follow their cues in regards to when they eat. It's more like 5 or 6 little meals a day.

I guess what bothers me is making children eat everything on their plate even if they don't like it and saying 2 or 3 more bites of whatever or they can't have desert. Worse, threatening spanking for not eating or various other offenses.
My kids are the same way. They "snack" around. We do have dinner,though,at usually around the same time every night. The only thing I ask them to do is try something if we are having something they have never tasted before. I will ask them once or twice,but certainly never force them to eat things they don't like. If they don't try it,they don't try it.

I'm sorry for your friend's kids. Spanking and threatening kids over not eating their dinner is just plain wrong. :
post #4 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetsyPage View Post
Yes- not a fan of force feeding. I've even had a friend try to do "airplane" with my almost 3 yo! .

my son who is 2 would even look at someone like "uh....are you dumb or something? " He actually has used the term "dumb lady" before :. It's just so funny when he says it I cna't say anything to him in the way of "that's not nice." Not to mention it's usually well warranted when he does say it....ok now i'm thread jacking

Anyhow, food is something I REFUSE to battle with. My kids are totally healthy. some days my son wants nothing but yogurt and bread with cubes of butter. Some days he eats like half a chicken for dinner with a ton of veggies.

I think it's a control issue....or just like they were raised so they figure that's how your supposed to do it.
post #5 of 81
Well, I try not to create food issues/struggles. But my 6 yo. is really testing my resolve lately, and I'm starting to get an inkling of compassion for families who do things differently!

Its hard when he decides he'd rather play than eat, and then he melts down because he is weak and hungry. Its hard when he decides to eat 6 pieces of cornbread and no protein, and is then hungry in the middle of the night.

But basically, yeah -- the whole "clean your plate" thing gets to me.
post #6 of 81
As toddlers, my kids didn't have to eat if they didn't want to. The did have to at least taste something new. (You won't know if you like it if you don't try it) but even then if they refused, I didn't push. However, with older kids it gets a bit difficult. I had custody of my nephew (who was seven at the time) and he refused to eat anything. Everything was "gross", and all he wanted to eat was junk. Well, I was not going to let that happen. So, I made a deal with him. He would help me pick out the meals (from a selection, of course) and when it was time to eat, he got to pick how much he wanted on his plate. If he didn't want to eat it all, he didn't have to. I explained to him to start out with small portions and if he wanted more then more was available. This seem to work. He just wanted a little control over what he was putting into his body. Very understandable.
post #7 of 81
ok we are going through similar struggles but i have to ask, if you child does not eat anything nutritious (crackers) all day, where do you draw the line on gently disciplining them to learn to eat nutritious food before the desert? My almost 3 yo old just gets distracted so it does help to keep her focused so she is not starving and cranky later...
post #8 of 81
I offer a wide variety at each meal because I respect that my kids have different tastes. This means I have a vegetable, starch, and meat at each meal and everyone can choose what they want. I offer three meals and 2-3 snacks during the day, so no one is going hungry. I do not require they eat anything, but I do require they sit down at the table with the family during meal times. I hate, hate, hate force-feeding and I would have a hard time not saying anything. Food should not be about a power struggle. I respect when my kids aren't hungry, as I'm often not hungry either at "mealtimes" but I do not go and run to cupboard for crackers when they wont eat what I've made. I figure they'll eat next time.
post #9 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by simplemama View Post
ok we are going through similar struggles but i have to ask, if you child does not eat anything nutritious (crackers) all day, where do you draw the line on gently disciplining them to learn to eat nutritious food before the desert?
Not having any desserts available for a period of time, until her eating habits stabilize again?
post #10 of 81
I refuse to make food a battleground issue. I have so many food issues from growing up, and such a screwed-up view of eating, and even if I haven't fixed it for myself yet, I'm not inflicting that on my kids.

DD is definitely a grazer, and will ask for a snack or something in particular often throughout the day - and I offer something if she hasn't asked in a bit. I do keep track mentally of what she's had, and if I think she needs some protein or something, I'll offer that first, or suggest it instead of what she asked for, but if she's adamant about what she asked for (unless it's a "sometimes food", which we try to limit to once a day) she gets it. Now, if she asks for something specific, gets it, has one bite and then has a hissy for something else, we will have a chat about not wasting things and whether she'll eat more of what she asked for, or have it later in the day. But I don't force food, ever.

Protein is an issue with her because she is very seriously anti-meat. She will OCCASIONALLY eat fried chicken tenders when we're out (yes, I know, but dude!). She prefers fruits, veggies, dairy products, and carbs - many healthy things, but given that she's also a pretty picky eater, it can make a balanced diet harder to achieve. She won't eat nut butters or tofu or TVP - anything masquerading as meat is immediately rejected. So when I do get a protein source in front of her, I will admit to asking her to take another bite or two. But if she doesn't, she doesn't - I just ask because sometimes she'll get distracted before she's really eaten her fill, and a reminder brings her back to what she was doing.

Various people have tried to get her to eat everything on her plate. I say, oh, she knows when she's had enough, and then remove her plate ASAP so there's no more reason to keep after her.
post #11 of 81
I am not a fan of the forced to eat everything -- there is a lt i don't like either

butttttttttttttttttttttttt

on the far other side

is not there some good tot he routine fo "we eat three meals a day together, at these times, you will come to the table as a memeber of this family and be polite even if you chose not to eat"

rather than a whole house of parents and kids eating what they want, when they wasnt (no matter how good what they eat is)?

isn't there a social aspect to the meal as well as a purely nutrional aspect?

Thoughts?

aimee
post #12 of 81
The examples given in this thread are "food rules". They are far from "force feeding."

I'm not a fan of food rules either. But let's call it what it is. "Force feeding" is unnecessarily hyperbolic and triviliazes actual forms of abuse using food.
post #13 of 81
Quote:
is not there some good tot he routine fo "we eat three meals a day together, at these times, you will come to the table as a memeber of this family and be polite even if you chose not to eat"

rather than a whole house of parents and kids eating what they want, when they wasnt (no matter how good what they eat is)?

isn't there a social aspect to the meal as well as a purely nutrional aspect?
As a mom of "big kids" I have to say, there was no need to train them for this. Toddlers like to roam. Big kids value the routine and the ritual of family meals. They come because they choose to. They like it. They appreicate the time together. I really think its a non-issue. Sort of like, they aren't going to be in my bed every night when they are 25 years old, just because we cosleep now....
post #14 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee21972 View Post
I am not a fan of the forced to eat everything -- there is a lt i don't like either

butttttttttttttttttttttttt

on the far other side

is not there some good tot he routine fo "we eat three meals a day together, at these times, you will come to the table as a memeber of this family and be polite even if you chose not to eat"

rather than a whole house of parents and kids eating what they want, when they wasnt (no matter how good what they eat is)?

isn't there a social aspect to the meal as well as a purely nutrional aspect?

Thoughts?

aimee
I don't know that there is a right or wrong answer to that question....in my house I just take as much stress off of eating as I can. My husband usually gets home after the kids would have eaten (I don't want them waiting for him to get home), and with an infant and my 2 and a few month year old no one seems to be hungry at the same time.

I think that 'family time' is more important than 'family DINNER time.' But that's just me. I provide healthy choices for my son when I know he is hungry and leave everything else up to him. Here and there we all catch eachother together hungry at the same time, but I tell ya we spend more time eating like behind the fishy shower curtain "feeding fisses mama!" or sitting outside on the porhc then anywhere else lately . We have such a short amount of time together (at least during the week) that I like to put the emphasis on things besides needing to actually eat together.

I also know that each of us have different eating habbits. DH can scarf down an entire fridge and not want to eat the rest of the day, and my son and I tend to graze a bit more.

We have family reading time and lots of other traditions in our home, but I just don't really make food one of them. I figure food is just to keep us strong and healthy.
post #15 of 81
We have no "food rules" in our house either. My 16 month old just had about 2 sips of my frap at the bookstore, coffee, sugar, whipped cream and all--- much to the chagrin of some people here I'm sure -- but ya know what, 2 sips was all she wanted and was totally fine with it. It has no appeal, no forbidden aspect, no label of "bad" or "fattening" or "not for children" or "not until you eat _____".

We have never had a problem with her eating, or not eating, or eating too much, or eating too little or gorging on "bad" things. Nothing is "bad" except for one caveat -- we are strict vegetarians and while I don't call meat "bad" --- we haven't made it available to her as an option -- we will cross that bridge when we come to it --

However, everything else is fine. We introduced organic, whole, nutritious foods to her at a very young age (around 7 months, sweet potato, avacado, you know the deal) and have continued that same pattern --- that is how we eat around 90% of the time but for the occasional *sometimes* food -- and she hasn't complained Our house (almost)never contains anything with HFCS, PH oils, refined sugars etc... but we do eat well and I love to cook and bake.

That having been said though, even though we very rarely have things like soda, sweets, sugars in the home, when she has been exposed to such things (around other family members etc) she may ask for a "taste" (she actually says the word *taste*) and behind a well hidden grimace I allow her to try it She has never gone "hog wild" and drank or eaten anything "bad" in excess -- I find she usually has a tiny taste and then asks for something she is used to eating and already enjoys a lot.

I don't think my child is exceptional by any means. I think most children are this way if allowed to be -- I know there will be posters who come along (threads like this have been covered ad nauseum ) who will claim their children, if given the opportunity to eat what they wanted when they wanted, would gorge on everything sugar/sweet/fat/disgusting and never stop. I only feel that may be the case in situations where food has been controlled until that point, where the child feels they are doing something "forbidden", a privledge which may be removed again, thus choosing to gorge while they have the chance -- or in a situation where there is an underlying medical or psychological reason for overeating or for starving oneself.

I have immense trust in the ability of young children to self regulate their food -- if given information, a wide variety of healthy and appealing foods (yes you can have both ), healthy modeling of their parents' eating (not *eat as I say not as I eat* parenting as I call it ) and if they are free to eat when they want and how much they like.

I can only speak from personal experience, and while it would be wonderful (and convenient) of me and others to think my daughter is just a rare, wonderful, gifted food prodigy (she's not) --- I think she is more the norm than the rarity ----- however, children like her may stand out more because our parenting with regards to food and rules are not the norm, but the rarity.

ETA:
No, I don't cook 23049732049 dinners. She eats either what I cook, or we have a variety of healthy finger foods available for her which I can easily get or prepare (whole grain crackers, organic cheese, sliced veggies/fruit etc)

No, she doesn't wake up at 4 am demanding food. She has only ever been hungry once or twice in the middle of the night, and again, is always agreeable with things I offer which are easy to prepare.
post #16 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee21972 View Post
I am not a fan of the forced to eat everything -- there is a lt i don't like either

butttttttttttttttttttttttt

on the far other side

is not there some good tot he routine fo "we eat three meals a day together, at these times, you will come to the table as a memeber of this family and be polite even if you chose not to eat"

rather than a whole house of parents and kids eating what they want, when they wasnt (no matter how good what they eat is)?

isn't there a social aspect to the meal as well as a purely nutrional aspect?
This is important to me too. We don't eat *three* meals a day together, but we have family dinner together every night, and one of us has breakfast with our daughter every morning. She winds up having her lunch on a different schedule than we do, but one of us always sits at the table with her while she eats.

Family dinner is an important social time in our house. We used to feed Alex dinner before we ate, because my husband worked late. Since she started eating with us, the variety of foods she eats has probably tripled. She wants to try what we're eating. She is also starting to learn table manners from watching us - now she wants very much to eat with a fork, instead of her fingers, because that's what we do. (Mostly.)

I think force feeding is repellent. I love food and eating - why would I want to make it into a source of stress for my family? I put a variety of reasonably healthy foods in front of her, and she can eat or leave things as she chooses. Today for lunch she had milk, a whole lot of carrots, and some canned peaches (in juice, not syrup), and then she gnawed some of the cheese off her cheese toast. Not what I intended her to eat, but it was what she wanted. (She had Lunch II after her nap: a slice of deli roast beef, a few pretzels, and a large quantity of pomegranate seeds.)
post #17 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by simplemama View Post
ok we are going through similar struggles but i have to ask, if you child does not eat anything nutritious (crackers) all day, where do you draw the line on gently disciplining them to learn to eat nutritious food before the desert? My almost 3 yo old just gets distracted so it does help to keep her focused so she is not starving and cranky later...
I have one super-picky 4 yo and 1 will-eat-almost-anything 2yo

The most important thing is just not having it in your house (or if you must have something bad make sure they don't know and never see you eating it, kwim?). If they only have healthy options they will only eat healthy food. Beyond that...I try to let my ds eat whatever, whenever. Once he got used to me not buying junk anymore he started eating much better. He may only eat a few things, but I know most of the time they're packed with nutrition.

As far as dessert...we don't do dessert, but when I do make something dessert-y I make it as healthy as possible. Like whole wheat pumpkin cookies made with coconut oil and a healthy natural sweetener. Smoothies are a greatsuper healthy dessert too.


oh, and on the OP topic. I hate that too. I feel so sad for all the kids I know who don't get to decide what they like or don't like. Dh and I can eat whatever we want. If we don't like dinner we mkae a sandwich or eat leftovers. If we're not hungry we eat later. I don't see any reason my boys should have to follow different rules.
post #18 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by mom4emnxani View Post

I suppose this is just my own thing but I have vivid recollection of having to eat what was on my plate and crying my way through meals. I vowed long ago when I was a child never to force my children to eat.
That was me.

I was so stubborn I would spend HOURS at the dinner table just sitting there since I had to finish everything on my plate before I could leave.
Not sure what that accomplished...
post #19 of 81
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericswifey27 View Post
That was me.

I was so stubborn I would spend HOURS at the dinner table just sitting there since I had to finish everything on my plate before I could leave.
Not sure what that accomplished...
Yeah I'm not sure what it accomplished either. I became the 'master' food hider or flusher.

My friend told me once that if her dd didn't eat her dinner she would get it the next day. I couldn't resist, I said "O.k. 'Mommy Dearest' " She kind of smiled at me and I do believe has stopped doing that. I hope so anyway.

I enjoy food and most days I eat to live not live to eat. I do have my days that I will eat whatever isn't nailed down

A family member called my children weird kids because they prefer vegies and were not sure what Hawaiian Punch was. I might add that after drinking some of that red, liquid sugar my dd puked. It was completely foreign to her body. I do give my little people treats and they even get candy occasionally but they don't get junk like that routinely. My little guy prefers fruit and vegies now. About the only meat he will eat is turkey. I am following his lead. If he naturally doesn't want to eat meat that's fine I will not force it on him. I just find other ways to get protein in him.

In my former life I was a nurse and just before quitting to become a SAHM I worked psych. Eating disorders were so prevalent. I'm not saying that a mother telling her child to clean her plate means that child will definitely have an eating disorder (there are many causes for that). However, it certainly could lead that child to have an unhealthy relationship with food.
My own dh has some serious food issues. He struggles constantly with his weight. When we used to visit his mother she still would tell him to "finish your food" but in the next breath, " you look like you've put on a few" (lbs). How freaking crazy is that? He grew up with that craziness.

I like how you Mammas put it... "food struggles" "no food rules" With my two they will try just about everything (of course it occasionally comes right back out) and we just don't stress about it. So far so good for us.
post #20 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee21972 View Post
I am not a fan of the forced to eat everything -- there is a lt i don't like either

butttttttttttttttttttttttt

on the far other side

is not there some good tot he routine fo "we eat three meals a day together, at these times, you will come to the table as a memeber of this family and be polite even if you chose not to eat"

isn't there a social aspect to the meal as well as a purely nutrional aspect?

Thoughts?
My opinion? For our family,no. I mean,I'm a SAHM,and dh spends time with the kids when he gets home,we do eat dinner together generally,although not at the diningroom table cause my 2 yr old cant resist climbing it,but that's another story. Honestly,I think the whole "family table" concept is great,for families who are gone from the home all day,like both parents working outside of the home fulltime,all the kids in school/daycare,etc. I guess in that sort of situation it would give everyone a "reconnecting" period. Hope that makes sense.
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