Mommy Dearest: Trying to get child to eat? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-13-2009, 08:49 PM
 
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I'm a big Ellyn Satter fan, too. It's a structured approach, not a child-controlled approach, but it's also one that recognizes that kids have to own their own appetite and their own food preferences.

My approach to food with young children is to put good food on the table, every two hours. That's it.

I serve breakfast at 8, a snack at 10, lunch at 12:30, a snack at 3, dinner at 5:30, and a bedtime snack. For meals, I choose the menu. I make an effort to include at least one food item that I know each person has enjoyed in the past. For snacks, I'll frequently offer a choice between two possibilities.

That's all I do, really. I don't worry about how much they eat, and what they choose from the available choices. That's their part of the responsibility. I put my effort into teaching appropriate table and mealtime manners, and insisting on reasonable, pleasant behavior at the table. I don't allow playing with food or throwing food once they get to about 2 1/2. I don't allow "yuck" or whining about the choices, or rambunctious behavior at the table. I don't allow constant getting up and down from the table, either. If a child is hungry, he'll eat. If he's not eating, I assume he's not hungry, and send him on his way.

I don't think the "a healthy child won't starve himself" really applies to babies under 2, though. A child that age biologically needs to be nursing. Babies who aren't may frequently not be getting the nourishment they need, because they haven't reached a developmental stage where they can get what they need exclusively from solid foods. That's why when I had to wean my twins at 16 months for my own health, I offered them formula for another six months or so.

And there are of course the rare exceptions.

But for the most part, I think the Ellyn Satter approach is the wisest way to go. "Here's the choices. What would you like? All done? Okay, get down and go play."

I don't believe in serving up the rejected food multiple times, though. I think that's mean. If I were to have dinner at somebody's home, I wouldn't dictate what they served. If I didn't like the available choices, I'd politely abstain, and then eat when I got home.

I also don't cater, though. If they don't like the choices, there's milk with every meal, and fruit with every meal, and they can have that. Or say no thank you and eat later.

Mine are 2, 2, and 5.

OP, I feel for your situation. My DH was also a very permissive parent, one who often rewarded really atrocious behavior because he was soft-hearted, and didn't want to be mean. He did it from the best of intentions. His own parents were very passive parents who disciplined primarily with guilt, so being direct and assertive with the kids was very hard for him. We've worked on that a lot. There has to be a middle ground between being harsh and authoritarian, and being a total pushover. A parent doesn't have to be a dictator, but a parent has to be an effective, persuasive, convincing leader who's willing to make decisions and stand by them.

Anyway, that's my point of view.

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Old 12-13-2009, 11:17 PM
 
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Well at 2.5 I think it's a bit too early to decide whether she's going to be a spoiled brat or not.

However, it doesn't sound like it is working for your family right now. There is however a middle ground between "allowing everything" and "allowing nothing."

With food... I really am an Ellyn Satter fan, although I also believe in permitting ONE alternative that is low-fuss, like "if you don't want anything at the table the ONE choice is PB&J".

However, that doesn't mean you have to send her to bed hungry. You make her what she's asked for and give her a good hour to possibly eat it. Then deal with it however you deal with uneaten food. At bedtime you can offer a separate healthy snack. Time is your friend here.

With the toys - yah. We actually don't buy toys when we're out very often, and you've outlined why - it tends to just get too crazy. But if your partner's not on board, I'm not sure you can really resolve the issue. However, I personally would start there - not with the food. I'd also really examine why you and he are buying the toys. When we go to the science centre, that is the treat.

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Old 12-14-2009, 12:32 AM
 
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DD is 3 and is just coming out of a fussy phase. I will not get into power struggles about food. I want dinner time to be nice for everyone. So, we always serve DD whatever it is we're having - just a small portion on a little plate. We don't insist that she try it or anything like that. If she says she doesn't want it, she can have either a yogurt or an applesauce instead.

As an aside, the other night I made chili, and I was sure she would refuse it. Colour me shocked when she decided to try it and ate her whole portion, then asked for more. Crazy!

As for the issues with your DH -that definitely sounds challenging. have you spoken to him about it? It definitely sounds frustrating. Have you read Playful parenting? Some of the situations you describe with DD not wanting to brush teeth/get dressed/comb hair, etc have been challenging for me in the past too. My DD responded really well to the "playful' approach, though.

: You sound really frustrated. I hope you can find a solution that works for your family.

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Old 12-14-2009, 02:16 PM
 
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About the toys, tell your hubby you're feeling a little jealous. Tell him that he should spoil both of his girls, that never letting you get your way is not making you happy. We've all of us read that older women say younger women just don't ask for what they really need... So they just don't often get it.

About disciplining toddlers. Someone said toddlers get told what to do four hundred times every day. They're going to do about fifty. And it's going to be the ones they chose, not the ones you chose. And U don't get all fourty, that counts when Barney tells them to stand up and dance, whatever your hubby says, or anybody else tells them to do.

I think discipline at two is consistency. Not perfect. But overall consistency. We all go to bed at 10:30. Mom and Dad get up at six, sometimes baby too. We all sit at the table for meals at these times (that one woman upthread should make her own mini-book as good as her advice was of how it should be done. Clap. Clap. Clap. *standing up* clap, ....)
Ya kinda gotta make a family the kid wants to have a role to be in, if that makes any sense.

About the food. Don't get wierd. Eating what you're served is different than learning table ettiquite. Wanna control something try to control the atmosphere at your table and everything else should fall into place. If everyone's eating leftovers then that's what's for dinner. If not it's some kind of sick head games. (btw my mom did that crap- no long term damage, just hateful memories. Including, well nevermind.)
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:54 PM
 
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I think your justifiable concerns about discipline in some areas -- your husband buying her whatever she wants and rewarding tantrums -- are spilling over into other areas and making things into a power struggle that shouldn't be.

If she doesn't eat her dinner, there's no reason for you to be mad. That is not disruptive or disrespectful behavior, it doesn't hurt the family. Just let her go, and then offer a bedtime snack (every night, not just when she skips dinner) that she can take or leave. If she leaves her dinner and her snack, then yeah, maybe she'll be hungry before her next meal. The "discipline" is that you don't get whatever you want, whenever you want it (like your cookies instead of a sandwich example) -- not that you are forced or bribed to eat what's on your plate, or that people are angry about your dinner.

If at all possible, I'd let go the things that don't matter, like forcing her to eat, and focus on the ones that do -- like not rewarding bad behavior. She badly needs consistency, and Daddy's rewards are not giving it to her! Does he think what he's doing is OK, or does he realize it's causing problems but he feels bad saying no? Do you think reading parenting books, or maybe talking to another, experienced dad, might help him? Because what he's doing really is going to make things very unpleasant for the adults in the family, and it's actually not fun for the three-year-old, either -- it's scary to be the boss when you're that little, and to feel like the adults are weak!
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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I am not a fan of Satter nor a proponent of highly structured parent controlled food situations. Parents already have a great deal of control over food where toddlers are concerned--we buy the food, budget the food, generally set the tone of what diet the family follows (vegetarian, kosher, organic, mainstream etc.). It isn't like a toddler can really undermine us. They are limited to what foods we bring into the home. When ds was a toddler he had healthy foods available at all times and was given a small degree of structure in terms of encouragment to eat proteins first, and minimizing waste. But as long as all the food in the home is healthy and nutritious any choice the child makes is a good one. The typical battles come into play when foods are in the home that aren't really healthy ie. Golfish crackers, processed snacks, breads, juices--which a toddler can make a habit of eating for every meal. Ds only had access (as a toddler) to beans, avocado, banana, cheeses, some meat, fruits, whole grains etc. If he just wanted avocado, beans, peanut butter and whole grain bread one day--that was fine. The next day he probably wanted banana and oatmeal. It tended to balance out over the course of a week. I kept a lot of protein on hand which was important for him. And also, as a toddler, he still drank a great deal of soy milk (weaned early unintentionally, otherwise he would have still been nursing).

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Old 12-14-2009, 08:31 PM
 
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My child is VERY food selective. She will NOT eat anything that she can't pickup with her hands, so puree'd anything is out of the question (although she will take the occasional bite of yogurt or rice pudding).

I just offer her a plate of various foods. Pasta, chicken, veggies, fruit, etc. There are ALWAYS a variety of foods on her plate (in chunks, all soft cooked, of course). Sometimes she will eat it all, other times she will eat everything but one food item. I don't worry about it, but I do continue to offer that food until she starts to eat it, and if there's one thing she eats more of (peas and corn, in this case), I make sure not to offer too many, and not to offer them at every meal (so she doesn't fill up on her favorites and leave the rest).

She will ALWAYS try the same "yucky" food at different meals (I guess forgetting that she didn't like it the last time), and will usually spit it back out. But the fact that she continues to put it in her mouth is good enough for me. And sometimes she actually eats small amounts of it. One of these days, she won't hate it so much and might actually eat it.
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Old 12-14-2009, 09:56 PM
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This first sentence contained (I believe) the nub of the issue:

"This isn't about nutrition or toddlers...it's about the best way to approach the discipline aspects of my toddler not eating, which is why I'm putting it here."

I have very strong opinions on this. First, if it's not about nutrition, then what's the big deal. And secondly I believe there is no "discipline aspect" of a toddler not eating.

If you make it about her not "obeying" you or responding to the candy bribes, then it is about her eating for all the wrong reasons and I think you can expect eating problems later on.

As long as you are providing you with healthy choices that ultimately get the right nutrition into her, she will eat. The idea that she should eat what is put in front of her makes it about you, and about power, and obedience and all sorts of other stuff that's external to her. Expect her to eat (badly) in rebellion later. If it's about bribing with junk, then she will eat for THAT wrong, external reason...to get the "prize." Can anything good come from her not following her own prompts? If all else fails, get her vitamins or something, but seriously, like the other ones here have said, there are many great ways to get good quality nutritional food into a little one.

I think it's way too easy to get into the power struggle aspect and to forget what eating is really for. BTW the reason I am so passionate about this is I want my child to listen to HIS OWN BODY later in life when peer pressure says "come on, just one more drink" "come on, just try this drug" or more likely, some corporation hammering him "Have it your way! Super size it! I'm lovin' it! Follow the crave!".

I want my son to be VERY used to making up his OWN mind about what goes into his body, and what feels right and healthy to him, listening to his own body's cues. A lifetime of eating right and feeling satisfied with quality food is going to build that strong foundation. We don't forbid junk, but we don't buy it and bring it into the house. He is USED to fruit for "dessert" more often than cake or pudding. Candy's only a part of holidays. He will KNOW when he's ingesting too much or too much JUNK later on, because he will know what setting his own limits feels like, etc.

Right now I feel very frustrated with him because he really does get picky too. I wonder how to get green veggies into him, mainly. But he gets his vitamins, and oddly enough sometimes he says the oddest things. Like the other day when I said "what are we going to have for lunch...you don't LIKE anything any more..." and he said "Spinach! spinach!" How odd, I thought. But I sauteed some chopped frozen spinach, added some garlic for flavor, and then used that with shredded cheese in a quesadilla. He loved it. And lo & behold, he got greens!

I came from an authoritarian home, by the way, we were TOLD to finish what's on our plate and could risk getting whacked for not doing so. I never developed internal discipline because every move I made was determined by others, outside of me. I paid very seriously for all the associated rebellions that I went through over the years.

Thank you for listening, and I hope you didn't feel too slammed. But it's serious business, right?
I really agree with this. On the other hand, it sounds like you do have some issues that are behavioral and discipline ones. The food stuff should just be not an issue at all. Your 2.5 DDs behavior is really normal for her age. Giving her what ever she wants every time she tantrums isn't a good idea. Tantrums are how LOs learn to deal with overwhelming emotions. They aren't bad things. They are developmentally useful. It's better to comfort your tantruming child by saying "I know you want 'xyz' but it's dangerous/not a good idea/or something." It helps so much to have both parents calm, loving, supportive and on the same page. My DD, when she was 2.5, had a meltdown because she wanted to take a peeled half eaten banana to bed as a cuddle object. It's just an age when they aren't reasonable at all sometimes. Catering to their every whim doesn't help either. We do only say no when there's a reason.
At build a bear we would have probably used the word "sweetie" too, but it would have been more "don't worry sweeties we'll come back when you can stay with mommie and be safe". We wouldn't have bought a toy. We leave right away when DD can't behave well. With the "I don't WANT chicken" I'd say that's fine but shouting hurts my ears and my feelings. It's not the food that's the issue just the rudeness. 2.5 year olds are often rude because their emotions are so out of control. Patience, gentleness, persistence and sympathy without giving into unreasonable demands will help you survive it.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:21 PM
 
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I am not a fan of Satter nor a proponent of highly structured parent controlled food situations. Parents already have a great deal of control over food where toddlers are concerned--we buy the food, budget the food, generally set the tone of what diet the family follows (vegetarian, kosher, organic, mainstream etc.). It isn't like a toddler can really undermine us. They are limited to what foods we bring into the home. When ds was a toddler he had healthy foods available at all times and was given a small degree of structure in terms of encouragment to eat proteins first, and minimizing waste. But as long as all the food in the home is healthy and nutritious any choice the child makes is a good one. The typical battles come into play when foods are in the home that aren't really healthy ie. Golfish crackers, processed snacks, breads, juices--which a toddler can make a habit of eating for every meal. Ds only had access (as a toddler) to beans, avocado, banana, cheeses, some meat, fruits, whole grains etc. If he just wanted avocado, beans, peanut butter and whole grain bread one day--that was fine. The next day he probably wanted banana and oatmeal. It tended to balance out over the course of a week. I kept a lot of protein on hand which was important for him. And also, as a toddler, he still drank a great deal of soy milk (weaned early unintentionally, otherwise he would have still been nursing).
How many kids do you have? I say this because I can see how a very unstructured approach to food can work with one or maybe two kids in the house, or with more if there's a big difference in ages. But when you have three kids under 3, it's a radically different situation. I adopted our structured approach when I did have three very young children. If I had allowed each kid to choose his/her own food choices, and change his/her mind multiple times, and eat outside designated mealtimes, I would have spent literally my entire day in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up after meals. I have too much else to do.

So I would point out that while the unstructured approach worked well for you, it doesn't always work well in every family, and I don't think there's anything implicitly wrong in structuring mealtimes and food choices for kids, provided the child is free to eat or not eat freely from the choices offered, at the times when they're offered.

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Old 12-15-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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If I had allowed each kid to choose his/her own food choices, and change his/her mind multiple times, and eat outside designated mealtimes, I would have spent literally my entire day in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up after meals. I have too much else to do.
Just one--although I had the idea from a mother of three (and I think it came from Dr. Sears who had seven or eight kids)--during toddlerhood I only really offered whole foods, so there wasn't any prep work after the initial cutting/dicing of foods into smaller pieces in the morning. If you spend all day in the kitchen (hypothetically) that must be a different approach than what I'm describing.

I don't think structure is wrong, but I do think eating, like going to the bathroom, should allow for some independent decision making, within reason.

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Old 12-15-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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Just one--although I had the idea from a mother of three (and I think it came from Dr. Sears who had seven or eight kids)--during toddlerhood I only really offered whole foods, so there wasn't any prep work after the initial cutting/dicing of foods into smaller pieces in the morning. If you spend all day in the kitchen that must be a different approach than what I'm describing?
I don't know. Here's what I'm thinking of: child X wants eggs for breakfast, so I cook those. Child Y announces he wants cereal, so I serve that, but then he changes his mind and wants yogurt. Child Z isn't hungry. But fifteen minutes after I clean up breakfast, Child Z announces HE really wants eggs after all. Then by the time we finish that, the other two are ready for a snack. I serve it, and then they change their mind and want something else. Fast forward all the day to dinner, when I cook a great meal, and nobody will eat it but me and DH, because Child X really wants applesauce, and Child Y really wants more yogurt, and Child Z isn't hungry, but decides he's hungry right as we're on our way up to bed.

That's the situation I imagine, with a totally unstructured approach. It's roughly the situation we had when DD1 was a young toddler, before the other two came along. When the twins started eating solid food, I realized that was not a way of living I was willing to live with, and that a few consistent rules about when we eat were going to have to be necessary.

Plus, we don't eat packaged food here. We mostly raise our own food, or buy from local farmers, and we don't eat very many grain-based foods, because of my special medical needs, so it's not like I have quick somethings I can grab. I make our own yogurt, I make our own applesauce, etc. That's not a choice for us-- I am able to eat very little packaged stuff because of my dietary needs. So it does change things a lot.

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Old 12-15-2009, 05:02 PM
 
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In our house, you have to try a few bites of everything being served.

When I'm making something I'm pretty sure that my son won't eat, I just throw something else on the table that I know he will eat in bigger quantities.

For example, he still (at 6) won't eat sauce on his pasta. So, I give him a piece or two with sauce on it, as that is how it is being served, and when he eats that, he gets the plain pasta I've reserved in the kitchen. It does mean that I do go through some extra effort when I am cooking to put things aside sometimes, but I can do that.

There are days when I know he really doesn't like something, like last night's split pea soup. So, I serve his tablespoon of soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. I'm not sure now if he actually tasted his bite of soup, but that's all right too. It was offered.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:30 PM
 
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Llyra--that post just made me tired reading it! Maybe someone can describe it better than me--but no it is not like what you described. I prepped food once in the morning--usually filling small ice cube trays that ds could graze on during the day. If I made a meal for dh and I, ds ws free to eat it or not eat it--nutritionally, his diet was already well rounded from what was already available. There was nothing in the house he could ask for that wasn't already prepped or that would have taken more than a second to scoop into a bowl for him (like the yogurt example). I spent very little time in the kitchen (you mentioned spending a lot of time in the kitchen when you just had one child, so that makes me think this is a different approach). Just like when ds was nursing or had bottles--he didn't need me to remind him to eat, he 'grazed' all the time. I sort of mimicked that with whole foods--there were little trays of natural foods and he gravitated towards them when he was hungry. Sure, I might suggest he eat if he seemed cranky and I thought that was the problem--but for the most part he ate if he was hungry, just like he used to nurse or want a bottle when he was hungry.

I'm not saying mealtimes are bad--especially as children get older, and go longer between meals, and can generally be reasoned with in following certain food rules--meals can be a fun family experience. However the OP was dealing with a single toddler, so the idea of set mealtimes may be needlessly stressful at this point...

Edited to add: thinking about the cooking example, I think it's completely reasonable to have set times you are willing to cook, and times when you refuse. I think that is what you are hitting on--whether I'm suggesting parents live in the kitchen as short order cooks. That could not be farther from it. If you want to go in the kitchen three a day to cook that is fine. I am just saying, I would have other foods available during the 'off' times. In some Native American cultures the entire community eats from foods that are prepared once in the morning and made available to anyone through the day (beans, corn, etc). If you are hungry, you go eat. Nobody has to stop everything to feed you. I kind of raised ds in that spirit...

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Old 12-15-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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For very young toddlers, I think grazing is fine, but my own feeling is that as they get older it's important to learn a more structured, social way to eat. That it's culturally important for humans to eat together in a formal, almost ritual way, and that the move toward constant grazing in the car, in front of the TV, most of the time eating alone whatever fast thing we can get our hands on and no two people in a family eating the same thing at the same time-- that this has been bad for us as a society.

I think learning to wait for a meal is important, and learning to prepare and share food and use good manners while eating it and talking to each other. It's not something kids need to learn right away by any means -- especially not if there's already a power struggle established around food -- but I do think they need to learn it eventually.
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:01 PM
 
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Yeah, I think part of the disagreement between my approach and the one heartmama describes is that we in our house very much value the social aspects of having mealtimes. Dinner time for example is the center of our day as a family.

I think our approaches just come from a different set of values about how eating should look.

I do think that both approaches have merit, and provide viable alternatives for a mama who's struggling to deal with toddlers and food. I think that even if you're opposed to structured mealtimes for young ones, you have to admit it's better than the kind of approach that consists of begging, pleading, cajoling, bribing, threatening, serving up the same cold congealed meal multiple times, insisting a child sit for hours until a meal is finished, etc. That was the approach a lot of my friends grew up with, and I like to think my approach is significantly better, even if it is a lot more structured than yours

I think also that it depends on what kinds of foods you're eating. We do eat what I'd describe as whole foods, but other than fruit and cheese, our eating is mostly cooked food, not raw, except in the summer and early fall when garden veggies are available. We don't really always eat the kinds of foods that lend themselves to nibbling, especially in the winter, when we're depending heavily on what I put up in the summer and fall from our gardens and our CSA. We eat a lot of stews, curries, soups, chiles, and similar foods. Our fresh veggies this time of year are mostly greens like kale or turnip greens, or live stored stuff like rutabagas and turnips. Our other veg is coming from home canning or freezing. I think that makes a difference, too.

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Old 12-15-2009, 06:12 PM
 
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Yes, meals are definitely sociable--breastfeeding is sociable, and even grazing toddlers will tend to want to eat when mama eats as well as at other times--but the 'family time' aspect is probably more appreciated as children get older, unless you have a very cooperative toddler. However the sociable aspect of eating together is not married to any one eating approach. Having children come to the table willingly and happily in the spirit of sharing time together is separate from whether they eat what is on their plate or are/are not forbidden from eating things at other times. Dh is Italian and we tend to have family coffee times--ds would have sips of decaf when he was small, or chocolate soy milk, and we had some kind of sweet dessert everyone loves. Naturally, no need to convince anybody to participate *lol*.

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Old 12-16-2009, 06:10 PM
 
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I forgot. I wanted to add this- it's about behaving In a store. You should take walks with your toddler to practice walking togeather and practice keeping them moving with you. They will stop at every pebble, flower, bird. You'll never get anywhere. This is a good time to work out a compromise. They're not little obedient robots. You have to let them stop and look at some of the stuff, but not all. They're mind's not really set on the idea of "going forward", yours is. You learn to work out a rhythm of compromise in a less-stressful situation because it really doesn't matter- you're just taking a walk, not trying to get your shopping done. The toddler starts to listen a little better because they know that you'll stop sometimes and let them examine a pebble, just not every time. You'll have more patience because you'll have time to give the baby undivided attention. You can judge better which times to pick them up and carry them for a few seconds, when to just tell them "no come on, we have to keep walking", and when to stop and let them pick up a few pebbles.

This idea came from a post somewhere around here on MDC. I forgot what the thread was about, but I remember the sentence, "find time to practice these things when you're at home and it really doesn't matter.". So we practice walking togeather to the post office. I kinda let him take his time but I insist we keep going and stay focused on getting there. It's funny how many times someone we know sees us and tries to offer a ride. I'm like "my truck's not broke, we're just walking for the excercise."

hey, you know what. Maybe you should play "tea party with the girly and her stuffed animals to introduce her to the social aspects of mealtime, then use the same tone of voice during dinner?"
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:31 PM
 
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I haven't had time to read all the responses, so I'll just respond to the OP...

I don't think it's wrong to say, "This is what I made for dinner. You can eat it or not, your choice." B/c it does sound like a little power struggle going on. She needs to know that even if she doesn't get to choose what's for dinner, she can choose to eat or not. If you're concerned she'll be hungry, start giving her a bedtime snack, like fruit or yogurt (maybe make it the same every night so there's no choice), as part of the routine. Then at least you both know she has another opportunity to eat before bedtime and not be hungry.

Once she realizes you're serious, she'll likely start eating more at dinner. If the issue is that she claims not to like things, just make sure that dinner is two or three different foods (like spaghetti, bread and salad), so that she might find it easier to "compromise" and eat just one thing. So what if she only eats bread for dinner one night? It won't kill her, anymore than not eating at all for a day or two would.

Also, would it help to have her more involved in preparing the food? Maybe making it fun for her would make her more interested in eating....

Good luck! I haven't run into a lot of this yet, but it's been slowly gaining speed in our house and I see it coming!
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post
If you're concerned she'll be hungry, start giving her a bedtime snack, like fruit or yogurt (maybe make it the same every night so there's no choice), as part of the routine.
I don't agree with not offering choices. I would suggest giving her two choices of a pre-bedtime snack, and changing what those choices are (so she doesn't pick the same thing night after night). My reason for this is to teach her that she has a choice of "this or that, or nothing at all", but she doesn't have the freedom to eat whatever she wants. You are giving her the choice of two foods. "These are your choices". Not having a choice at all, and being told "eat this or eat nothing" can lead a child to great upset.

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Also, would it help to have her more involved in preparing the food? Maybe making it fun for her would make her more interested in eating....
I strongly agree with this. Kids who are involved in the making of dinner, often are much more interested in eating it.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:15 PM
 
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I don't agree with not offering choices. I would suggest giving her two choices of a pre-bedtime snack, and changing what those choices are (so she doesn't pick the same thing night after night). My reason for this is to teach her that she has a choice of "this or that, or nothing at all", but she doesn't have the freedom to eat whatever she wants. You are giving her the choice of two foods. "These are your choices". Not having a choice at all, and being told "eat this or eat nothing" can lead a child to great upset.
...
You know, I have no idea why I said no choice on the snack. I guess I was thinking just to keep your sanity! Since dinner is always different, and an issue, maybe if the snack is always the same (not a "bedtime snack" but a "bedtime banana") she'll be more likely to eat it. But sgmom is right, just like with dinner, it's probably better to give her the choice. I'm too enmeshed in my own toddler mindgames today!
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:22 AM
 
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Oh man. It's taken me so long to get to this place because my DD was exactly as you described. And with the label "failure to thrive" on top I was a mess and couldn't deal with her not eating thinking I was starving her.

Here's what I do now and it's working pretty well. Easier said than done but mealtimes are no longer a power struggle.
  1. Feed every two hours
  2. Provide choices that are likely wins (but still healthy)
  3. Do NOT intervene, as in no spoon feeding
  4. When she's done...she's done. I leave the plate out for another 20 in case she changes her mind - then remove the plate
  5. Don't worry about what was consumed this meal, she'll catch up next meal, or the one after that.
  6. In my experience, toddlers hate foods that are mixed up like casseroles. I separate foods on her plate, put sauces on the side so she can dip or not etc etc

Just a few things that are working for me after about two years of struggling...HOpe things get better for you. Here's two books that are excellent as well:

My Child Won't Eat by Dr Carlos Gonzalez
Child of Mine: Feeding your Child with Love and Good Sense Ellen Satter

PS...I don't mean to say providing choices as in being a short order cook. If I introduce something new, I'll also include as part of the meal something she'd like. For example...I make a new stew...but have rice as a side because I know she likes that. She also likes avocados...so I might have that as a side and we ALL get served the same food...she may only eat the rice, but I've made my peace with that!

PPS!!! I just remembered what's really tipped the balance of even getting her to sit with us. I turn ALL of the lights out except for where we're eating.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:33 PM
 
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I tell her whatever it is that she's afraid of, "Just try it. If you don't like it, you can spit it in my hand. Just try it." 9 out of 10 times, she won't.
I don't know, but it sounds like you're making way too big a deal over it, and setting her up to expect not to like it. Just make the food, serve it, and don't even say a word about it being new or try to cajole her into trying just one bite, but gush a bit about how good it is, and how you're so glad that you get to each such yummy and nutritious food. Don't encourage her to try it, but just model the enjoyment.

If she eats it, praise her, but if she doesn't, or whines about it, just ignore it or don't give it a response. When the meal's done, it's done- don't mention her eating or not eating again.

I remember when I was little my parents would make a big deal over something being new and how I had better try at least one bite, and I was automatically turned against it and suspicious before the food was even set on the table. I was convinced that if they were making this big a deal already, then I probably wouldn't like it and they were just trying to trick me into trying it. They eventually quit doing that, and treated meals as a matter-of-course, and never mentioned it again. My pickiness stopped right away, and now there's not a food out there that I don't eat. Good luck!

-Phan
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Old 12-20-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I always told ds that he couldn't know he didn't like it if he hadn't tried it. Honestly, how could one know? He didn't HAVE to try anything, but he couldn't say he didn't like it if he didn't try it.

I'm sure that's mostly semantics, but it seems to have gotten him to eat more than if I'd tried to convince him to either try "one bite", or that he would like it.

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 12-20-2009, 09:05 PM
 
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It's really hard to force kids to eat, especially when it is something they do not like. What you should do is put a twist on her meals. Make it look like more enjoyable, for example, make the garnishing more beautiful, something that would really make her touch and taste the food.
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