Getting older kids to drink water? - Mothering Forums
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Preteens and Teens > Getting older kids to drink water?
onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 02:14 PM 04-18-2013
I am posting this here because techniques that work on young children don't work on my 12 year old DD. When she was younger, she had no problem drinking enough water, but around 10 or so it became an absolute struggle. I have tried everything I can think of, we have a water filter to make it "taste" as good as possible (if you can call water a flavor) and I even buy fancy bottled water for her lunches to get her to drink more. I used to give her both water and juice in her lunch, but since she would only drink maybe 2 ounces at school a day, I only give her water and she still comes home with it unopened half the time. I told her I would give her juice if she would drink the water, but it isn't incentive enough. At home, the rule for everyone in the house is water only at dinner. If I have seen her drink a full 12 ounce glass of water, she can have one glass of juice, but she can't even manage that usually.

When she gets sick, she stays sick much longer than most kids because she doesn't get enough fluids. I have tried herbal tea, but she will not drink it without a few tablespoons of honey, and she doesn't need any more sugar, so that's not working. I have tried sparkling flavored water, water with lemon or cucumber, etc. and she does not like it either. She probably gets 20 ounces of water in her body on a good day, which is alarmingly low. I hate to have to put a lock on the refrigerator, but she has resorted to sneaking juice when I have told her explicitly she must drink water first.

I have explained to her that whether or not she likes the way it tastes, she must drink it, just like other things in life people do that they wish they didn't have to. I have told her that you can die easily from dehydration, have organ failure, even go blind and she does not care. She would literally rather die than drink water. She has become excessively cranky over the last couple of years, and I really do believe it is because she is constantly moderately dehydrated. She urinates maybe three times a day. I am seriously considering taking her to the doctor to have him "scare her straight" about the consequences of not drinking water.

Any tips would be appreciated, nothing with sugar or fake sugar though. She has terrible teeth for a 12 year old and will not make it to adulthood with her permanent teeth if she keeps it up with the juice and soda.

ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 03:05 PM 04-18-2013

She's 12 and otherwise healthy? I would let her drink to thirst and not make it an issue. 

 

It sounds like it has become a battle for control, given that you are closely scrutinizing her daily intake and urination. If so, you can't win dietary battles with an adolescent. Just keep water available and minimize sugary and caffeinated beverages in the house. Don't forget that a significant amount of water intake comes from water in food. 

 

I also don't think you need to worry about the kind of severe dehydration that leads to organ failure, blindness and death in a healthy 12 y.o. The human body has a remarkable ability to regulate fluid balance. There are a quite a few articles that challenge the myth that we need 2 or more litres of water every day and pointing out that there is little scientific evidence for those kind of numbers. Here is a brief summary in the Guardian.   Pushing water intake has definitely benefitted the bottled water industry but not necessarily the consumers. 


One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl 05:46 PM 04-18-2013
We just have milk and water in the house and drink to thirst. My dd drnks different amounts depending on the day and is rarely sick. I drink about the same amount as your DD on a good day and am rarely sick. We alo don't drink juice and rarely drink soda.
mtiger's Avatar mtiger 06:43 AM 04-19-2013

I have to agree that you seem to be turning this into a power struggle. The scare tactics are unnecessary. I think I'd back off of water, too if my Mom started with this kind of thing (and I'm well over 12).


Polliwog's Avatar Polliwog 06:49 AM 04-19-2013
I think you are overestimating, by far, the amount of water she needs to have. And like the PPs have said, you are in an unnecessary power struggle.
pek64's Avatar pek64 07:09 AM 04-19-2013
I lived on soda growing up and still have my permanent teeth, so you could be getting into this power struggle for no reason.

If it were me, I'd make sure the juice is healthy (nothing added, organic if possible), and back off the water issue. Maybe she doesn't want to use the bathrooms at school, so has gotten into a no drinking habit. I know in my high school the bathrooms were full of cigarette smoke, so I stayed out of them as much as possible!

I'd just make sure there's lots of healthy options to eat and drink. It's up to her to choose them. This is a tough area. You want her to be healthy. That's obvious. But she's an age where it could be she's trying to make more decisions for herself, and that's adding to the avoidance. See what happens if you back off the issue for a month. Try buying organic when you can, and maybe make soup or stew on occasion.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
mamalisa's Avatar mamalisa 09:14 AM 04-19-2013

Stop buying juice?  We only ever have milk and water in our house, there's no struggle, because there's no options.  


sewchris2642's Avatar sewchris2642 09:19 AM 04-19-2013

what everyone else has said.  This is going to be a power struggle you will not win.  Not a good precedent going into the teen years.  Don't buy juice.  Fruit is better anyway.  Have cold water in the fridge (if she only drinks it cold).  You model drinking water.  That 64 ounces of water a day includes all fluids, including what is naturally in foods such as fruit and vegetables.  Not just what is drunk out of a glass.


MicheleRMT's Avatar MicheleRMT 09:23 AM 04-19-2013

My 12 yr drinks TONS of water.  I just told her to great for her skin and girls that age like to look at themselves in the mirror right?  Mine is at that stage anyway.


mamazee's Avatar mamazee 09:42 AM 04-19-2013
I find kids drink more water if I keep a jug in the fridge. They like it refrigerated.

Otherwise, I agree with stepping back and letting her take charge of her water input. If she actually ever gets dehydrated, take her into the doctor of course, but until then I'd let her drink however much she wants.
onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 02:10 PM 04-22-2013
Thanks for the responses, I am a little confused why so many people keep mentioning this power struggle thing, though. She has become dehydrated enough that she has been to the doctor (twice!) to get IV fluids while she was sick. The doctor said she was very seriously dehydrated both times and could have had organ failure if I didn't take her, so for everyone who seems to think this isn't a real issue, it actually is. For her body weight, not counting what she gets from food, he told me 32 ounces a day is the minimum of what she should be drinking.

I wouldn't buy juice except I also have a two year old who needs to drink juice since its hard to get enough fruit in him otherwise between his stomach capacity and what he can chew. I never buy soda unless there's a party or something, but she is 12 years old. She can figure out how to get soda without my help. Her teeth are very, very poor. She has cavities in permanent teeth that grew in 1-2 years ago, 8 of her baby teeth were capped because she had so many cavities. I have bought a water pik, fancy toothbrushes, make her brush regularly but like the dentist said, she has poor enamel, so there isn't much to be done besides cutting the sugar and juice (there is no sugar besides juice and honey in the house).
onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 02:14 PM 04-22-2013
And yes, I did pay to have all her molars and premolars sealed. Just because you grew up drinking soda doesn't mean her teeth aren't in danger of rotting out before prom.
whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom 02:20 PM 04-22-2013

If it's really as serious as you say, if your DD is being hospitalized for dehydration, I really wouldn't stress about what liquids she puts in her body... even if it ruins her teeth. Certainly when she's sick I'd not stress about the juice. You can water it down like you do with toddlers. Chocolate or strawberry milks, smoothies, soups, cereal with milk, fruits, fruit pops and vegetables to the diet... that all offers liquid. Otherwise, what can you do? You can't force it down her. The harder you push, the more she'll fight you.


onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 02:25 PM 04-22-2013
Of course, when she's sick I let her drink anything, I even buy Gatorade. She isn't a huge fan of cereal because it gets soggy, but I saw some bowls that keep the milk separate from the cereal so I will try that, good suggestion. She loves smoothies and drinks those regularly.
pek64's Avatar pek64 02:35 PM 04-22-2013
If she drinks smoothies regularly, how is she becoming so dehydrated unless she is taking diuretics? Or making herself vomit? Just thoughts.
onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 02:49 PM 04-22-2013
She drinks them 3-4 times a week, not enough to get adequate water. She leaves the door open 90% of the time she goes to the bathroom so I doubt she's bullemic. She hates throwing up, if she does when shes sick she cries about the "horrible taste" for an hour. She got a stomach virus 6 months ago (one of the times I took her for fluids) and seriously complained she could taste vomit for 2 weeks after.
Polliwog's Avatar Polliwog 06:29 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxfire View Post

Thanks for the responses, I am a little confused why so many people keep mentioning this power struggle thing, though. She has become dehydrated enough that she has been to the doctor (twice!) to get IV fluids while she was sick. The doctor said she was very seriously dehydrated both times and could have had organ failure if I didn't take her, so for everyone who seems to think this isn't a real issue, it actually is. For her body weight, not counting what she gets from food, he told me 32 ounces a day is the minimum of what she should be drinking.

People keep referring to a power struggle because you didn't tell us your daughter has a medical condition. Most healthy people don't need to drink that much water. My kids and I go through stages where we don't drink much liquid water but we get enough water through our diet.I know people who drink NO water and they've never ended up in the hospital. Of. course, they should be drinking water, but barring a medical condition, or performing strenuous exercise, it's not usually a big deal.
whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom 07:23 PM 04-22-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post


People keep referring to a power struggle because you didn't tell us your daughter has a medical condition. 

 

Yes to that but also because anything a child HAS to do but doesn't WANT to do has the potential of becoming a power struggle. There aren't a lot of battles you can win by force when it comes to your child.

 

I'd try yogurts too.


ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 07:29 AM 04-23-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxfire View Post

I am a little confused why so many people keep mentioning this power struggle thing, though. 

 

It might help to understand why this appears to be a power struggle if you re-read your first post. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxfire View Post

..... but around 10 or so it became an absolute struggle.  You were the first here to call it a struggle. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxfire View Post

I am posting this here because techniques that work on young children don't work on my 12 year old DD. ...... I have tried everything I can think of, ...... She would literally rather die than drink water. It has obviously become a battle between the two of you.  You are resorting to coercive tactics like bribery and punishment and scaring her straight. If "she would literally rather die than drink" then that is extremely unusual and indicates a serious battle for control between you. 

 

A neutral, third party professional might help you both re-frame the situation away from a power struggle.  You may have a few options for finding such a professional. Rather than asking your doctor to "scare her straight", you might ask for some supportive help and counseling for you both in this situation. A referral to a dietician might be a good idea since you say she has ongoing health problems. (BTW, I did qualify my first reply with statements about "otherwise healthy 12 y.o.s".) A dietician may give you much better advice and some good suggestions about maintaining fluid balance. For the record, I'm a little skeptical about any diet and nutrition advice given by a family physician. Doctors are generally only superficially trained in the area compared to a professional dietician who has studied the field for many years.  If you have had contact with a children's psychologist or social worker during her hospital admissions, then perhaps one of them could help. I don't think I would normally suggest such a step at this stage but since she has ongoing health problems, it sounds like some outside help might be a good idea. 

 

 

 

 


ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 07:41 AM 04-23-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxfire View Post


I wouldn't buy juice except I also have a two year old who needs to drink juice since its hard to get enough fruit in him otherwise between his stomach capacity and what he can chew. 

 

Just a quick comment on this too. I question whether a 2 y.o. needs to drink juice in order to get the daily recommended servings for fruit. Juice is not a good substitute for fruit because you lose out on fibre, flavenoids and nutrients when you don't consume the flesh and skins of the fruit. Also, as you have already recognized, instead of those important things, juice gives you concentrated sugars. 


Polliwog's Avatar Polliwog 07:55 AM 04-23-2013
Does your two-year-old have special needs? Because, typically developing two-year-olds generally have no problems (either with chewing or stomach capacity) eating most fruit. I'm wondering if you are overly worried about your children's diets. I also think an appointment with a dietician and possibly an OT, or therapist, would be very beneficial.
mtiger's Avatar mtiger 08:25 AM 04-23-2013

^^agreed. When mine were younger than two, they were able to eat grapes peeled & cut in half, peaches cut in small pieces, shredded apples (less chance of choking), pieces of banana, etc. 

 

One thing my neighbor does (more for herself than the kids, although they do also drink it) is to make her own "vitamin water" by adding cut fruit to plain water and let it "steep" in the fridge. She'll do all kinds of combinations - all citrus, raspberries and lime, watermelon and strawberries, and so on and so forth. Perhaps that would make water more palatable to her? 

 

I agree that having a dietician speak with her about the importance of proper nutriton - not just on staying hydrated, but just generally a good diet - especially with her history of dehydration - cold be a good thing. Not so much as to scare her straight, but to educate her. 

 

But I think *you* should back off a bit. I found that trying to force food/particular drinks just didn't work. I had one who wold rather die than allow a fruit/veggie to cross his lips. Same with fruit juice. Soda & energy drinks. The other preferred fruit/veggies, but was big on soda as well. As a single parent, it was often just too much to fight over. Today, at 21 & 19? They both tend towards drinking water, eating fruits/veggies, staying away from junk food... They do pick up what you try to teach them, and often modeling is better than preaching. Well, usually... 


mamazee's Avatar mamazee 08:58 AM 04-23-2013
There comes an age with a lot of kids (most?) where the more you tell them to do something, the less they want to. The more you try to force it, the less likely it is to happen. The bigger of an issue it is to you that they do it, the bigger of an issue it is to them to NOT do it. I remember getting into these fights with my mom, and I sometimes find myself getting started on that path with my older daughter.

Even with toddlers, kids know that there are a few areas they completely control, and the two areas they control the most are input (food, and in this case water), and output (bathroom.) Fighting over potty use can make a toddler absolutely refuse to use the potty, because they know they hold all the cards on that issue. And in the same way, fighting over food and water with kids, both young kids and older kids, can make a huge mess because, again, they hold all the cards.

You can't force her to drink. There's no way to do it. You said when she gets sick she's gotten dehydrated and you've had to take her to the hospital. She isn't getting to the point of dehydration where she needs a hopsital visit when she isn't otherwise sick then? If she is, then it's honestly an issue where she needs a psychologist. Allowing yourself to die of dehydration is IMO akin to allowing yourself to starve to death through an eating disorder, and I'd treat it the same way. If it isn't to that level, I'd back off and leave water for her when she wants it.
OrmEmbar's Avatar OrmEmbar 11:15 AM 04-23-2013

I find education and empowerment very important for young teens.  They respond so well . . . especially if Mom and Dad can take a step back and trust they will rise to the occasion.  This is the time of life when they need to feel like they are in charge of some things.  Going to an herbalist or nutritionist is a great way to do this, especially if the practitioner is the same gender as your child . . . a roll model that empowers choice.  Your daughter can have the visit on her own (after you've asked enough questions to feel comfortable with this).  They can give a general outline of a few basics to work on and have your daughter make choices about how she will commit to these basics.  

 

For example, here is one way I would approach the situation as a practitioner:  So I hear Mom is really concerned about your water intake.  Tell me about that.  . . .    Yeah, Moms can be that way.  It's especially annoying sometimes.  But, you know, she loves you and sometimes that makes parents crazy.  She'll mellow out . . . just give her a few years.  (of course these few years are what teens need to ride through that first hormonal craze so they can see clearly again, but it doesn't hurt to look at things through a teens eyes and commiserate that everyone else is wacky)

 

Then I would go into some education and ask for a commitment to an experiment:   An 80 pound person might need 32 to 40 ounces of water a day.  Some of that comes from food . . . .here is how we guess how much water is in your food.  Give me an example of your favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Okay, so after figuring out that you are getting about 14 ounces of water in your food for this set of meals, that means you need at least 18 ounces additional liquids this day. How would you like to divide that up and what is the best way to get water?  We'll make a tracking sheet that only you and I see for the first couple of weeks.  It can take a few weeks to get into new habits with eating and drinking and Mom has promised to stay away from asking questions for 2-3 weeks until we have figured out what works for you.  This is your time to take responsibility for your own health and I'm here to help with that.  Mom is too.

 

They will hopefully find out why your daughter does not like water.  This is so very important.

 

Anyway . . . hang in there!  This is the time to remind your daughter that you are here for her and you will hear what she has to say.  As she heads into the teen years this connection will serve both of you more than proper hydration.  I know how scary it is to see one's child making harmful choices, but you being available for her to approach you without being chided can make a massive difference for her sense of self worth.

 

Hugs.


onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 12:44 PM 04-23-2013
Thanks for the great suggestions! Besides the teeth and dehydration, she is otherwise healthy, but incredibly picky, I think her taste buds are more acute than most people. Because of that, she really hates raw vegetables besides salad (which I do count towards water intake) and most foods with high water content. But y'all did hit the nail on the head, it is not worth a power struggle. The only reason I push water is because she has gotten so dehydrated and it is completely avoidable. I would rather not spend another thousand dollars just to get fluids in her. So water is on the "daily expectations" list, along with picking up after oneself, helping out around the house, and the 4 agreements. For everyone, not just her. I model water drinking all the time, I take a water bottle with me when we leave the house, always get water whenever we go to a meal, etc. I probably drink 80 ounces a day, but at this age, modeling "good behavior" isn't necessarily something a young teen consciously picks up on, like any other advice a parent may have to offer.

The 2 year old doesn't like most fruit, only bananas and grapes (which don't offer much nutritional value) so I buy orange juice to make sure he's getting enough vitamin C... He just hates anything with seeds or anything super chewy, I don't think it's due to anything besides his gums hurting from teeth growing in. The main stomach capacity issue is that he prefers anything that isn't fruit or vegetable, so any time he sees someone eating something he likes, he wants some, too. I feed him fruit or avocado or sweet potatoes before dinner, but he is old enough to know we will be eating later and says he is full after half a banana or 1/4 of an avocado. DD likes goldfish and popcorn, so of course if he sees her eating those after school, it doesn't help the situation.
sewchris2642's Avatar sewchris2642 07:47 PM 04-23-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxfire View Post

Thanks for the responses, I am a little confused why so many people keep mentioning this power struggle thing, though. She has become dehydrated enough that she has been to the doctor (twice!) to get IV fluids while she was sick. The doctor said she was very seriously dehydrated both times and could have had organ failure if I didn't take her, so for everyone who seems to think this isn't a real issue, it actually is. For her body weight, not counting what she gets from food, he told me 32 ounces a day is the minimum of what she should be drinking.

I wouldn't buy juice except I also have a two year old who needs to drink juice since its hard to get enough fruit in him otherwise between his stomach capacity and what he can chew. I never buy soda unless there's a party or something, but she is 12 years old. She can figure out how to get soda without my help. Her teeth are very, very poor. She has cavities in permanent teeth that grew in 1-2 years ago, 8 of her baby teeth were capped because she had so many cavities. I have bought a water pik, fancy toothbrushes, make her brush regularly but like the dentist said, she has poor enamel, so there isn't much to be done besides cutting the sugar and juice (there is no sugar besides juice and honey in the house).


Both Erica and Angela needed to make sure that they got enough water to keep themselves hydrated.  Both of them have become dehydrated (fortunately not to the point of having to go to the dr or hospital) and know what to look for in case it happens again.   I was one of the posters who mentioned power struggles.  BTDT with Erica.  But since she didn't like (understatement) the headache and other symptoms of not enough water, I only had to remind her of them for her to drink water.

 

I'm not understanding your comment about your 2 yo and chewing.  Even without 2 yo molars (which my kids got around their 3rd birthday), mine could eat a variety of cooked veggies some time between 1 and 2.  Dylan lived on cooked broccoli (just the flowerets at first; not the stems) for years since that was the only vegetable he liked.


sewchris2642's Avatar sewchris2642 07:58 PM 04-23-2013

You'd be surprised at how good for you bananas are.  http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/banana-fruit.html  And grapes.  http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/grapes.html
 


stormborn's Avatar stormborn 08:15 PM 04-23-2013
I only had time to read the op, but would you be ok with her putting a splash of juice in the water? You mentioned tooth problems but it might be a worthwhile tradeoff during a contrary phase.wink1.gif Even as an adult I can't stand the taste of plain water unless it's spring water with that strong mineral taste.
Or, my 11 yo loves ice so I got one of those snow cone makers that she uses without the flavor syrup. Plain water frozen in popsicle molds usually goes over well too.
onyxfire's Avatar onyxfire 02:23 PM 04-25-2013
Yeah, I would, but she will only drink juice, like, 5% diluted (believe me, I have tried). She will, however, drink watered down lemonade, so I have been trying that.

The 2 year old can chew, he just loses patience after the first couple of bites and wants something else instead. Trying to limit his carb/non nutritionally dense intake at home since he lives off of crap at day care (he is even pickier there apparently).
babymommy2's Avatar babymommy2 02:33 PM 04-25-2013
Quote:

I wouldn't buy juice except I also have a two year old who needs to drink juice since its hard to get enough fruit in him

fruit juice is not a subsititue for fruit. the easiest thing to do would be to just stop buying juice, or buy a limited amount/ week and when it's gone, it's gone. I buy only a certain amount of juice because I love it and don't need the extra calories from it. I really woulnd not worry about dangerous dehydration. A healthy child is not going to deprive themselves of fluids to the point they are in organ failure. Sickness is entirely different, but on a regular basis threatening that she is going to die from not drinking water is not going to work, she has already figured out you are wrong as she is still alive in spite of not drinking much.


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