You WILL EAT, or table rules. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Guys, I have a problem. Ever since my son came back from his trip with dad in August, we've been having issues with him eating for up to an hour to finish his plate. At the same time, he completely zones out during eating, stairs at the windows, plays with some objects that are on the table, leaves the spoon and just sits there for a while. He is 5 years old, by the way, and goes to kindergarten. I am so sick of this. Today I yelled at him after he sat there for 20 mins and still had most of the portion unfinished. He is not excited about food or eating anymore at all! At school, a lot of time (most), he brings back what I pack for him. He only survives on a little snack they give them.

Would setting up the timer help? I've started talking to him about our table rules a couple of weeks back, and he has improved some. I guess it will take some time for the problem to unwind bc how long I had let it go. But I need him to understand the expectation -all you have is 20 mins the most to finish all, not an hour to barely touch it and complain all the way through that he is full, tired, and not hungry!!!I don't want this to turn in any sort of behavioral issue or unhealthy attitude toward food!

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#2 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 01:59 PM
 
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I think it's more likely to become a long-term issue if you force him. What kind of snack is he eating? Why did the trip change his eating? Is he physically active / working up an appetite?

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#3 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 02:21 PM
 
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Guys, I have a problem. Ever since my son came back from his trip with dad in August, we've been having issues with him eating for up to an hour to finish his plate. At the same time, he completely zones out during eating, stairs at the windows, plays with some objects that are on the table, leaves the spoon and just sits there for a while. He is 5 years old, by the way, and goes to kindergarten. I am so sick of this. Today I yelled at him after he sat there for 20 mins and still had most of the portion unfinished. He is not excited about food or eating anymore at all! At school, a lot of time (most), he brings back what I pack for him. He only survives on a little snack they give them.

Would setting up the timer help? I've started talking to him about our table rules a couple of weeks back, and he has improved some. I guess it will take some time for the problem to unwind bc how long I had let it go. But I need him to understand the expectation -all you have is 20 mins the most to finish all, not an hour to barely touch it and complain all the way through that he is full, tired, and not hungry!!!I don't want this to turn in any sort of behavioral issue or unhealthy attitude toward food!

If he says he is not hungry, can you put the food away until he is?  Rather than sitting at the table for such a long time, give him the twenty minutes and move on.  At school, can he keep his lunch for a snack after school if he doesn't eat it at lunch time?

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#4 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am not talking about forcing him. I am looking for ways to have him follow table rules all adults do - we sit at the table and eat, not stare out the windows, play, or daydream. Neither do we complain about being full or not wanting to eat what is in front of us.

A snack he gets at school is some crackers or juice. Yes, he is active.

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#5 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, if he says he is not hungry, I will put his food away. I just want to see when he actually says he is hungry.

The other day though he barely touched his breakfast because he told me he didn't want eggs but cornflakes instead. I told him later hoping he would it more of the eggs. He didn't. So later on he started being kind of wimpy, and I realized it might be hunger. I offered him oatmeal, and he ate the whole bowl, but again, we needed to remind him that we don't get distracted by talking or getting of the chair until we are done eating.

Yes, sometimes he finishes his lunch as a snack on the way home unless he stayed in after school and ate a snack there. Usually, it's goldfish crackers or chips.

I realize now it might be he actually hardly ever says he is hungry bc it's always around the time we eat that he needs to eat. He probably never learned to voice his hunger, but then again it needs to be a schedule, not like "I don't want to eat now when everyone is eating, so mommy will fix me smth later" We can't be doing it either.

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#6 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 02:51 PM
 
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You could tell him that it's okay if he doesn't want to eat but there will not be food available again until whatever time. I don't think it's good to force kids to eat, but I don't think they should get to pick their own times and snack all day either. If dinner is at 5:30 and he just picks at it, then he can make the decision of whether he is going to eat now or wait until bedtime snack at 8:30 (for example). If he's getting distracted I'd say it could mean he is done and should get down from the table, even if everyone else is still eating. 

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#7 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 02:55 PM
 
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That sounds so stressful. What is the big deal if he gets distracted while eating? I never make my kids sit at the table if they're not hungry, I just put away their food until they're hungry and then they eat it. 

You are making food a power struggle issue (you WILL eat) and food is one thing that you can`t control (sleep is the other). You can do your best, set rules, yell, spank or whatever but you cannot force him to eat. Turning it into a power struggle hurts your cause because he knows you can't win. Only engage in a power struggle if it's important AND you will win.


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#8 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 03:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by trus View Post
 

I am not talking about forcing him. I am looking for ways to have him follow table rules all adults do - we sit at the table and eat, not stare out the windows, play, or daydream. Neither do we complain about being full or not wanting to eat what is in front of us.

A snack he gets at school is some crackers or juice. Yes, he is active.

Hmmm, I do all those things.  I even make something and decide that I'm not all that hungry for it.  I do say I didn't realize I was so full.  When I'm with company, I chat and ignore and pick at my food and about an hour later it eventually gets eaten.  I'm sure plenty of adults do otherwise, but I don't see it as childish to not focus of eating and not getting down to business.

 

I'm not unsympathetic to your difficulties.  Something might have happened during his trip, but he also might be reaching a point in his growth where hunger is either taking a backseat to issues of control, or simply he doesn't have the same appetite.  Perfectly normal.  You can bring him to the table, but you cannot make him eat.  You do not have to cater to him on every issue of food, but making him sit and micromanaging how he eats his food is going to make your problems worse.

 

I suggest you do a little of that looking out the window, or reading a book or doing a crossword--anything to distract yourself from how he spends time at the table, and how long he takes eating.  Food in the mouth is one issue that ultimately kids have total control over.  You can keep your expectations--eat at the table, meals at certain times, "I'll make something you like, but you'll eat what I make or you have to wait"-- but beyond that, give him control over the rest.


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#9 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great comments ladies! Thank you so much! I totally get the power struggle.smile.gif)
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#10 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 06:17 PM
 
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I found that my dd ate best when she has three hours at minimum between meals or snacks, otherwise she just picks at it even now. When she was little she took n hour to eat regularly. When it drove me crazy I stopped sitting with her and went to do other things but I didn't limit her time.
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#11 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 07:43 PM
 
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Have you made sure that nothing traumatic happened to him in his trip? Has he actually lost weight? I'm only asking because when my sister was a child she got depressed and stopped eating. I never found out what happened but that is how she expressed her sadness.

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#12 of 17 Old 02-15-2014, 08:19 PM
 
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Where did they go? Any chance he picked up a parasite?
Worms are actually.common in kids, and the only symptom can be lack of appetite.
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#13 of 17 Old 02-16-2014, 05:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What can be good for checking for worms?

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#14 of 17 Old 03-19-2014, 08:22 PM
 
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This is information from Ellyn Satter, an RD who is well known for her idea of the Division of Responsibility in eating and removing power struggles from the table. Both of the blog posts here have a lot of information you might consider. http://mealtimehostage.com/tag/ellyn-satter/

One thing is that the idea of a timer is for you - to keep you from getting to exasperated. The other is that it is okay to take your time at the table.

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#15 of 17 Old 03-19-2014, 08:27 PM
 
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When my DD doesnt seem to want to eat, I give her a reasonable amount of time to finish and then I wrap the plate up. If she complains she is hungry later on, I offer her the leftover dinner plate. No need to have a conflict about it. Most of the time she is fine but sometimes she doesnt want to eat when we are eating. 


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#16 of 17 Old 03-19-2014, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by trus View Post

I am not talking about forcing him. I am looking for ways to have him follow table rules all adults do - we sit at the table and eat, not stare out the windows, play, or daydream. Neither do we complain about being full or not wanting to eat what is in front of us.
A snack he gets at school is some crackers or juice. Yes, he is active.

I think you are being way too rigid. He is five!

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#17 of 17 Old 03-20-2014, 01:09 PM
 
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I think put the food away but no different food later. Maybe make an exception if you know he ddoesn't care for the food in question, but the new food is at s set time. Not just a few minutes after refusing dinner. I sometimes make the next meal a little earlier & a favorite if I know the last meal was not a favorite.

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