4 yo won't eat unless I feed him *UPDATE* post 46 - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 12:46 AM
 
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@Bri'sgirl

I am feeling a little flamed myself. When my little guy went through a similar phase, I too tried to accommodate as much as possible. However as a single parent with a job to get to, another small child to attend, a house to maintain on my own and errands that no one else was going to do sometimes it was incredibly overwhelming. The egg timer was used a method to let him know how much time we had to eat our meal. On some mornings, we literally had ten minutes to eat our oatmeal and orange slices. I felt that simply taking his food away when it was time to leave the house for childcare or grocery shopping would feel more randomly capricious and cruel than a gentle explanation that this was meal time and when it was over that we had to leave (or get ready for bed or go get the laundry from the laundry room) and letting him have a visual would keep him from feeling surprised or punished.

Yes, my kids probably do have to take more responsibility for themselves than some others, but that is our reality. I can not afford to loose my job over an hour long breakfast on a Wednesday or my inability to shower or clean our clothes because someone wants to be spoon fed or have me help them try on all five pair of shoes before we leave. Sometimes my answer just has to be no. "No we can't have a third story or second chapter tonight." "I am sorry you're upset, you already made a choice, you can make a different choice tomorrow." "No, I need to eat and do the dishes before we leave, I bet you can do it."

I certainly wish that I had more than two hours some nights to make dinner, eat, get ready for bed, play (if there is time), read stories and snuggle but I will use what I have and make the best of it.

Sometimes I think people forget what a privileged place they come from to have a partner or even a washer and dryer in their home and forget that not every one has the family time - and I mean actual hours - they enjoy.
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#32 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 10:23 AM
 
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Nevermind. The little ones need me and I don't have time to be coherent (and not sound snippy).
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#33 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 12:59 PM
 
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I honestly do not understand for the life of me what the harm is in feeding the kid. What are people afraid will happen? What is so wrong with indulging a child's "want" as long as there is not harm in it? I mean I won't let my daughter live off cupcakes because it would be detrimental to her health. But feed her? Sure. Sign me up. To not feed her when I am perfectly capable of doing so would be a conscious choice to engage in a power struggle OVER NOTHING. What good could come of that? Would it be to show her who's boss?
Well I don't know what your life responsibilities are but I for one do not have the time to sit and feed someone who is perfectly capable of doing it themselves.

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#34 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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I honestly do not understand for the life of me what the harm is in feeding the kid. What are people afraid will happen? What is so wrong with indulging a child's "want" as long as there is not harm in it? I mean I won't let my daughter live off cupcakes because it would be detrimental to her health. But feed her? Sure. Sign me up. To not feed her when I am perfectly capable of doing so would be a conscious choice to engage in a power struggle OVER NOTHING. What good could come of that? Would it be to show her who's boss?
Oh, and IMO it's not a power struggle if only one person is involved in the struggle. Walking away and letting the child throw a fit it not a power struggle. Standing there and fighting with them, trying to make them feed themself would be a power struggle. Telling them you will not feed them and then walking away is just refusing to be drawn into the struggle.

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#35 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 01:02 PM
 
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just because it is a want doesn't make it less valid. part of being a parent is taking care of their wants. or at least i thought it was. not every single one (like a pp stated no diet of only cupcakes etc) but feeding them? i can not imagine letting my child cry for three hours just to show them i could.

h
It is not LETTING them cry, they are CHOOSING to cry. This is not an infant we are talking about. If they want to throw a tantrum for 3 hours they can go to it, but I don't have to participate in it.

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#36 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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Well I don't know what your life responsibilities are but I for one do not have the time to sit and feed someone who is perfectly capable of doing it themselves.
That`s where the disconnect is, IMO. If you do not have the time, don`t do it. But if someone else does have the time and is willing to do it don`t call their kid `not normal`. (I`m not saying YOU said it, just the general tone of those that think 4yo is too old.)

Also, another poster said something about daughter-in-law appreciating it etc...um, reallyÉ For one I`ve never seen an adult asking for his mom to come feed him and for another if my spoon-fed son *did* end up like that I`m hoping my DIL would have known this trait before marrying him and would have taken a decision appropriate for herself

PS: What`s wrong in indulging your child`s ``wants`` if it isn`t harming anyoneÉ My son also ``wants`` me to lay with him until he falls asleep at night. I do. Most nights. He feels more secure that way. I don`t see a reason why not.
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#37 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 02:46 PM
 
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Well I don't know what your life responsibilities are but I for one do not have the time to sit and feed someone who is perfectly capable of doing it themselves.
If the child wasn't capable I'd bet the time would be there, so for that reason I don't feel this issue has much to do with not actually having the time ever. It's about deciding whether or not this is an appropriate use of time. For me, it was most of the time although there were times when it was not practical. For others like you, it seems it's never an appropriate use of time. Different strokes as they say. Simple as that. There's no need for this to become a competition over who has more responsibilities than who.

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Oh, and IMO it's not a power struggle if only one person is involved in the struggle. Walking away and letting the child throw a fit it not a power struggle. Standing there and fighting with them, trying to make them feed themself would be a power struggle. Telling them you will not feed them and then walking away is just refusing to be drawn into the struggle.
I think the use of the words "letting" and "refusing" indicate to me it is indeed a power struggle, and it's not one I would care to engage in. I am too busy to deal with self inflicted drama.

Call me lazy, but I'd just assume feed the kid and get on with life rather than deal with a screaming crying kid for who knows how long. Lucky for me, that approach worked well for us. Also I think it's the fact that it was not a control issue for me and my daughter that smoothed over those times when I felt I couldn't feed her when she asked. She knew I would if I could, and I think that made a big difference in how she reacted.
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#38 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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I have a hard time functioning if one child is screaming their head off. The other child can't deal very well when this happens either, and it certainly makes for a miserable evening where no one in the family is able to really do anything. There are 4 of us in a small house so there is no escaping the noise. If I can spare the 10 minutes it takes to help the four year I'd do it, because then the rest of my night will go better. I used to do dishes and feed at the same time. Go wash one plate, then back over the the table to spin the spaghetti on the fork, wash a glass while DS was chewing on that. I probably would look a little nuts if someone was watching. Then I had my DD when DS was 3.5 What a difference. That child wouldn't let me feed her past 12 months. It was awful, because she would make such a mess that it took so much more time to clean her up and clean up after her than it did if she would just let me feed her the darn tomato soup.

Now like the OP said the kid needs to eat on a time schedule and needs to eat certain foods. In that case I would definitely work my schedule around making sure the child eats as much as I possibly could.
That Mom you are right I am coming from a very privileged perspective. Thank you for reminding me.

I do think, however that once a kid gets going and is in that hyperventilating miserable cry, really they are not CHOOSING to cry, they are not choosing to tantrum, and they need mom to stop and hug them and help them breath in then breath out and calm down. I don't know that this is what heavenly is doing, but I have this image in my head of a woman dismissing her child's feeling because they are in fact ridiculous, but to the child they aren't and that's going to hurt a 4 year old.
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#39 of 53 Old 06-25-2010, 03:46 PM
 
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I used to do dishes and feed at the same time. Go wash one plate, then back over the the table to spin the spaghetti on the fork, wash a glass while DS was chewing on that. I probably would look a little nuts if someone was watching.
I wouldn't think you looked nuts since our spaghetti night looked almost exactly the same. I would just start cleaning up while feeding or at least twisting..."Mommy, twist it for me." It really was not a time consuming process.
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#40 of 53 Old 06-26-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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Also, another poster said something about daughter-in-law appreciating it etc...um, reallyÉ For one I`ve never seen an adult asking for his mom to come feed him and for another if my spoon-fed son *did* end up like that I`m hoping my DIL would have known this trait before marrying him and would have taken a decision appropriate for herself
That's probably true, but I do know of dh's that expect their wives to get them all their drinks, or make all their snacks, or change the channel on the TV for them (well, to be fair, that was a long time ago when we had remoteless TVs ) Expecting your wife to wait on you, is unacceptable IMO. I don't think that men like that just decide one day that their wives should wait on them. Heck, I dated a guy in my 20's who told me he still had his mom clip his toenails (we dated for about 10 seconds, that is.) I'd be mortified if that were my son.

Not that feeding your 4 year old occasionally is going to make him that guy, obviously. All kids want mom's attention and will sometimes do crazy things to get it. If my kids want me to feed them sometimes and I have the time, I don't see it as a big deal. But if it were all the time, I wouldn't be willing to do it either. So I see both sides.

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#41 of 53 Old 06-26-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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It's the 30 minutes or so after that when I just don't have the time, he starts to cry and I try to stay calm, but sometimes end up getting angry (and yelling or raising my voice). I always end up feeding him, in the end.
This sounds like a problem to me. If you didn't resent it and it never caused issues, I would say...well, I would never do it myself, bc it would make me nuts, but to each her own.

However, if the above is what is going down, that does not sound good. You are saying no and then giving in after getting mad and him freaking out. I have done this MANY times myself, mind you, but I don't think it's a good pattern at all. Either be willing to do it 100% of the time and do so gracefully or decide that you are done with this and stop the practice.

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#42 of 53 Old 06-26-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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This sounds like a problem to me. If you didn't resent it and it never caused issues, I would say...well, I would never do it myself, bc it would make me nuts, but to each her own.

However, if the above is what is going down, that does not sound good. You are saying no and then giving in after getting mad and him freaking out. I have done this MANY times myself, mind you, but I don't think it's a good pattern at all. Either be willing to do it 100% of the time and do so gracefully or decide that you are done with this and stop the practice.
OP, after all I`ve said, I do agree with this post. If it`s not something you want to do and it`s causing grief all around, you may have to choose your camp. Feed all the time, have him start on his own and then you finish (kinda 50-50) or not spoon feed at all. This tug of war doesn`t sound all that happy for either of you.

PS: does your son go to school yet. how does he do there. i`ve known kids (mine included) to behave or do things absolutely competently when mom isn`t there.
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#43 of 53 Old 06-28-2010, 03:39 PM
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well......... my 4.5 yo asks me to feed him all the time.
sometimes, i'm just too busy and when I say "I CAN'T right now, you NEED to feed yourself, " he usually gets the picture and feeds himself. Sometimes he'll whine a couple of times more. If he really keeps asking, then I will just feed him.... while I'm running around the kitchen cleaning up.

Reading this thread, I realize how normal this really is.
DH is ADAMANT that ds1 can feed himself... but he sometimes relents and will feed ds.
otoh, ds2 who is 19 mo insists on feeding himself with fork and spoon, drinking from a regular cup himself, etc.

feed him a bite... wipe down half the table.... feed him another bite.... wipe down the counter.
Looking back, and reading this thread, I now realize he just needs more time with me when he asks.....
when I feed him a bite, he just sits in his chair, watching me while he chews... the same kind of face his father (DH) would stare at me when we first started dating.

when ds1 was 3.5, my mom went down to the kitchen very early one morning... and found him sitting very quietly at the table.... eating a large slice of chocolate cake with a tall glass of milk. LOL.
Procuring this slice entailed pushing the learning tower very quietly about 4 feet from the center of the kitchen (was positioned against the counter), lifting a very heavy lid off of the glass cake stand and placing it very quietly on a granite counter, slicing off a piece cleanly, replacing the lid very quietly. Then pouring his own milk.

on my job daily, i'm reminded how lucky i am to have two very healthy kiddos. And you know, Ds1 soon won't need me for any of the little things.
....i guess i am really okay with feeding him.....
and lying down with him at night...'til he falls asleep.
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#44 of 53 Old 06-28-2010, 03:46 PM
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[QUOTE=Heavenly;15555193]I don't see being a parent as catering to my child's every whim. If they cry for 3 hours its because they are CHOOSING to do so. [QUOTE]

i guess i wouldn't want my child to cry for 3 h. Esp. if there was anyway that I could prevent it, esp if easy. I would hate for something to happen to my child, and my last memory of our time together was me refusing to do something simple and him having a 3 h cry.
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#45 of 53 Old 06-29-2010, 12:01 AM
 
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I'd give him the food, let him eat what he wants and clear what he doesn't eat. He will likely not starve himself and missing a meal because he's waiting for you to feed him won't hurt.

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#46 of 53 Old 06-29-2010, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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*UPDATE* After reading through all of the replies and taking some time to really think about this, I came to a decision. There are many points of view on this, but I've decided that ds really needs me, and if feeding him (when I can) makes things happy in my house, that is what I will do. There are sometimes weeks between when he wants me to feed him, though sometimes it's every day. After giving it some more thought, it does seem to happen more often when he's not feeling 100%.

Someone asked if he goes to school, and he does go to pre-k. He eats just fine there and doesn't ask to be fed.

So, I will feed him when he needs me to, but I will also let him know that when I'm really busy, he will have to feed himself. I'm sure I can make the time, more often than not. Most likely, he will not be wanting me to feed him by the time he is in kindergarten, so I am just going to cherish him being my "baby" and not worry about the rest.

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#47 of 53 Old 06-29-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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*UPDATE* After reading through all of the replies and taking some time to really think about this, I came to a decision. There are many points of view on this, but I've decided that ds really needs me, and if feeding him (when I can) makes things happy in my house, that is what I will do. There are sometimes weeks between when he wants me to feed him, though sometimes it's every day. After giving it some more thought, it does seem to happen more often when he's not feeling 100%.

Someone asked if he goes to school, and he does go to pre-k. He eats just fine there and doesn't ask to be fed.

So, I will feed him when he needs me to, but I will also let him know that when I'm really busy, he will have to feed himself. I'm sure I can make the time, more often than not. Most likely, he will not be wanting me to feed him by the time he is in kindergarten, so I am just going to cherish him being my "baby" and not worry about the rest.
Well, you're probably right that he'll probably be done with this phase by K, but I'm the exception.

My dd is almost 6.5 y.o., and I still need to frequently feed her. (Yep, that's me, the coward who didn't speak up while everyone was saying it's not normal to feed a 4 year old.)

Random strangers at the restaurants often come up and complement me about what a "good eater", my dd is because they see her eating lots of veggies enthusiastically. Hah!

That's because I offer it to her, spoonful by spoonful. Yes, it is not unusual to find me spoon feeding my 6 y.o. I give her a bite, then she chews and swallows and immediately opens her mouth very wide, ready for more. In fact, if I am not paying attention and don't notice that she is ready for her next bite, she often grabs hold of my arm and steers the spoon, still in my hand, to her mouth!

And yet if I put the spoon next to the plate and expect her to feed the veggies to herself, she will just sit there and 30 minutes then 60 minutes will just pass by with nary a bite. I hate to use the word lazy, but my only conclusion is that although my dd is perfectly happy to eat unpopular healthy veggies, she is too lazy (or otherwise unwilling) to use her own hands to transport the food from the plate to her mouth. Part of it might be that she doesn't like to get her hands messy, so she doesn't want to run the risk of touching food.

I don't really know why she's like this, but it really doesn't matter. But I only have this one child, so I just feed her if I notice that she is not touching her food and keep a sense of humor, because when I think about it, it's pretty funny. (If I had more than one child, I'm sure I would go crazy and probably put my foot down due to lack of time.) For me, it's faster this way, and her diet is healthier this way. I'm not worried at all, and I'll feed her for as long as she wishes, I guess.

Needless to say, my dd is perfectly able to manage feeding herself things like ice cream, cake, pies, etc. in a timely manner.

She just finished full day K, and they only have 20 minutes to eat. I have no idea how she manages it, but she often does manage to eat her packed lunch.
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#48 of 53 Old 06-29-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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*UPDATE* After reading through all of the replies and taking some time to really think about this, I came to a decision. There are many points of view on this, but I've decided that ds really needs me, and if feeding him (when I can) makes things happy in my house, that is what I will do. There are sometimes weeks between when he wants me to feed him, though sometimes it's every day. After giving it some more thought, it does seem to happen more often when he's not feeling 100%.

Someone asked if he goes to school, and he does go to pre-k. He eats just fine there and doesn't ask to be fed.

So, I will feed him when he needs me to, but I will also let him know that when I'm really busy, he will have to feed himself. I'm sure I can make the time, more often than not. Most likely, he will not be wanting me to feed him by the time he is in kindergarten, so I am just going to cherish him being my "baby" and not worry about the rest.
bri - i havent read the rest of your replies. but i wanted to share this with you.

i live in the US now but i am from asia.

some of my happy memories are of family feeding me. my most happiest memories of my gpa is him feeding me when i was what 10. he fed me off and on and when we went to spend our summers with him i looked forward to him feeding me till he passed when i was like 14.

i carry on that tradition with my dd. she is almost 8 and its just her and me. with her i dont see feeding her as spoiling but as another way of connecting. she still sits on my lap and i feed her sometimes. in fact we do that most days. saves on cleaning dishes as we eat out of the same dish together. of course competition is rife and if i look like i am enjoying my bite, she wants me to feed her my next fingerfull or forkfull.

my dd's younger days were spent caught between wanting to be a baby and a grown up at the same time. she has gone through phases when she needed to be babied. i have noticed those usually happened when she was going thru an emotional growth spurt. i have dressed her, fed her, packed her bag for her... all of which she was capable of doing.

but i could see the need behind the request. coming from a single coparenting family life is hard on her emotionally. so i do everything to meet her emotional needs.

today the baby comes up very rarely. instead i see her wanting to be more grown up. and so i allow her to do things that other kids dont do at that age. for instance - with me in close supervision, she would make a full breakfast when she was 6 1/2 - usually a veggie omlete which she would make from scratch including cutting the veggies with a sharp knife. somedays i'd be hand feeding her the omlette she had made.

when i go home to visit my mom, we still cosleep and then on some days my mom still hand feeds her 45 year old daughter. because i am immersed in some legal document i am helping her with and she doesnt want me to miss lunch or eat part of a lunch.

hey once in a while our roles change and my dd feeds ME. in fact some nights when i struggle to sleep she reads to ME!!!!

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#49 of 53 Old 06-29-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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Some small advice, since it does not seem to be sensory-related (that was my first guess, but if he is OK at school, it's probably not sensory but more about having you be with him). Make it a game. You do one spoonful, he does the next. Get the coolest dang spoon you can find. Make a special holder for it on the table or something like that. Make rewards for each bite he does himself, like have him do little stamps on a piece of paper for each bite he gives himself. If he gets 5 stamps, he gets something at the end of the meal. It will take some time, but I think if you are patient and build rewards & expectations into it he will get used to doing it himself. This will probably take up less of your time in the long run if it gets him to be independent. I have a kid w/special needs who is not very independent and a 4yo without special needs but who thinks she should have everything done for her because we do it for her brother. I've needed to do a lot of this kind of rewarding for her. And I do not balk at M&Ms.

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#50 of 53 Old 06-29-2010, 07:13 PM
 
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That's because I offer it to her, spoonful by spoonful. Yes, it is not unusual to find me spoon feeding my 6 y.o. I give her a bite, then she chews and swallows and immediately opens her mouth very wide, ready for more. In fact, if I am not paying attention and don't notice that she is ready for her next bite, she often grabs hold of my arm and steers the spoon, still in my hand, to her mouth!

And yet if I put the spoon next to the plate and expect her to feed the veggies to herself, she will just sit there and 30 minutes then 60 minutes will just pass by with nary a bite. I hate to use the word lazy, but my only conclusion is that although my dd is perfectly happy to eat unpopular healthy veggies, she is too lazy (or otherwise unwilling) to use her own hands to transport the food from the plate to her mouth. Part of it might be that she doesn't like to get her hands messy, so she doesn't want to run the risk of touching food.
If this is just a preference for the two of you, than more power to you. But, I wanted to very gently suggest that it sounds like she may have sensory issues, and she might benefit from some occupational therapy. It might be worth reading up on sensory integration disorder a little online, and considering if her dislike of getting her hands dirty is interfering with her life in other ways. I think it would be frustrating to need someone else to hold your spoon (which is what it sounds like, since she's moving your arm to get the spoon in her mouth). Have you ever asked her why she doesn't feed herself? At 6 1/2 you may just get shrug, but you also may get a complete explanation.
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#51 of 53 Old 07-01-2010, 12:32 AM
 
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Never mind.

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#52 of 53 Old 07-01-2010, 02:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Bri'sgirl View Post
*UPDATE* After reading through all of the replies and taking some time to really think about this, I came to a decision. There are many points of view on this, but I've decided that ds really needs me, and if feeding him (when I can) makes things happy in my house, that is what I will do. There are sometimes weeks between when he wants me to feed him, though sometimes it's every day. After giving it some more thought, it does seem to happen more often when he's not feeling 100%.

Someone asked if he goes to school, and he does go to pre-k. He eats just fine there and doesn't ask to be fed.

So, I will feed him when he needs me to, but I will also let him know that when I'm really busy, he will have to feed himself. I'm sure I can make the time, more often than not. Most likely, he will not be wanting me to feed him by the time he is in kindergarten, so I am just going to cherish him being my "baby" and not worry about the rest.
I'm sure he will feel more secure and need your help less and less as time goes on. That's how a lot of kids work, when they know for sure you got their backs and you'll help them feel safe whenever they ask, they are more independent and secure later in life.
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#53 of 53 Old 07-05-2010, 01:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i live in the US now but i am from asia...

...hey once in a while our roles change and my dd feeds ME. in fact some nights when i struggle to sleep she reads to ME!!!!
Coming from someone who still feeds their 4yr 3 mo ds their dinner just about every night, I really appreciated hearing this story meemee, that's lovely

While ds has some sensory issues that I'm sure are contributing to his wanting me to feed him, I've never seen it as an issue. Like the need for other things have, I assume that the need will pass with time.

OP, sounds like you've made peace with your situation, and I think it's perfectly fine to say you can't feed your dc when you're busy. I do make ds wait sometimes too if I'm busy. And to those with more than one child and many other responsibilities, I take my hat off to you, and yeah, absolutely I understand why you might need your kids to feed themselves, so you work toward that.

For us, it works, ds eats enough healthy stuff, we're all happy, so eh, I feed him! And if I'm doing it when he's 6, eh! If I'm doing it every night when he's 16, well then... we'll deal with that when we get there!!!
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