please help- major food struggles with DS age 6 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my son Ari is 6. he has always been kind of a particular eater. he is healthy, rarely sick, 75% weight and height for his age. so my issue is not really one of health, it is more of principle.

he will not eat most foods i make. i have two step children who are 5 and 7 and they eat almost everything i make with no complaints. they do not seem to get hungry between meals as much as Ari. Ari will refuse breakfast and then lo and behold 1 hour later when we are out and about will complain of being really hungry. in the past this meant me buying some expensive ready made item at the coop. but since marrying a man with 2 kids we 1. cannot afford this and 2. want to dicipline all the kids as similarly as possible in regards to food. my husband says it will simply take us being consistant with ari and hell learn to eat the food at meal time.

right now as i type he is sobbing, and has been x 1 hour because i asked him to eat 1 slice of kiwi, two bites of a hard boiled egg yolk and a bowl of chocolate yogurt. the other kids gobbles this up in about 3 minutes no problem. we had plans today to get each child a small toy under 5$ as a reward for some things theyve been doing around the house. we decided no one can go pick out a toy unitl they have eaten their breakfast.

breakfast was 2 hours ago and ari is crying and i feel like crap. i just dont know what to do. almost every meal is like this unless its one of the few foods he likes. please help.
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#2 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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I'd be careful about attaching conditions and consequences with food. On the other hand, this house is anything but a short-order kitchen. I try to accomidate food likes within reason, but I make one meal for everyone and that's what is available to eat. If they're hungry and want a snack an hour later, I might suggest a healthy alternative if it's available, or I might tell them they're welcome to eat the food I just made. But I won't bend over backwards to make them eat. The natural consequence of not eating is being hungry, and as long as they're healthy (they are), it's their choice to make.
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#3 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 02:49 PM
 
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I have one picky eater out of three, too. He's 5.5. We haven't really found a solution except that I make sure there are a few things on the table he will eat. That way, I don't have a battle every meal.

For dinner, for instance, the only green vegetable he'll eat is raw broccoli, so that's on the table every night even when I serve other vegetables. He also only likes plain food, so a serve sauces on the side. It's a pain, but I really think my son has an aversion to certain textures. He literally gags. So... I dunno. It's hard. And it affects my meal planning. And sometimes I get mad about it. But I really don't think he can help it. Is it possible your son has these issues as well? Could you make sure at least something in there is something he likes? Do they have to clean their plates? Personally, I would impose the consequence of no eating between meals, rather than forcing them to eat to begin with. Just MHO.

Let me know if you find any better solutions, because I'd really like my guy to expand his horizons, too!
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#4 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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Food struggles are really hard, I understand you totally. I do have to say that I agree with the first poster who warned of attaching rewards/punishments with eating. But, on the other hand, I have made the same mistake when I'm at my wits end and just want my kids to eat...something...anything...even if by the means of rewarding with a dessert (totally bad, I know)

Lately I have noticed that my 6yo (and my 4yo too) will eat one item once, claim to like it, won't eat it the next time its made...then maybe will the time after that. It's so inconsistent. I swear my kids play "rocks paper scissors" before every meal to decide who will be the one to eat without complaining!

What we have been doing lately is reading tons of books on the human body and digestive system. We talk deeply about how our bodies need food...good and healthy food to live and function properly. This has begun to make a slight difference in our mealtime bliss. I can often persuade one of my kiddies to eat a food (something they have had beofre and sometimes something new) by explaning what fundtion it'll have in their growing bodies. If they choose not to eat, I do ask that they remain at the table with our family as to not disprupt those that are still eating. Once they get hungry enough, I direct them back to the dinnerplate. Almost always they will eventually eat. I sway a bit if its a totally new food. I would at least ask them to try and I wouldn't force them to like it.

I don't know if my thoughts are of any help....I'm curious to read other posts too!
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#5 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 03:06 PM
 
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I think you need to take the struggle out of it. It sounds to me like it has become more of a game than anything (for your son). My guess is that it's less about the food than it is about him wanting to assert his independence and make his own choices, thereby defying you.

I also would not give rewards/punishments for anything eating-related simply b/c I think you are treading on eating disorder ground in doing so. I was overweight as a child and I was told by my father when to stop eating. It resulted in my defying him and getting even fatter. It wasn't until I was in my mid-20's that I was able to develop a better relationship with food and lose the weight for good. Unfortunately for me, the issue of control is forever entangled with food.

I think I would enlist your son's help in choosing a healthy meal. Then, put the food on the table, let him eat (or not), and if he doesn't, suggest to him he pack it up for the road if he thinks he's going to be hungry later. Let him be responsible for it. I would also let him know you won't be able to buy anything while you're out because of cost. I would do all of this as nonchalantly as possible. I wouldn't ask him to eat (or not eat). Just let him honor his own hunger (or lack thereof).

As far as not eating anything but favorite foods, we are just starting to deal with this with our DD (5 in April). I run my kitchen like IdahoMom does, I try to make at least one thing I know DD will eat, but I am not a short order cook if she doesn't like the meal. If she's hungry enough, she'll eat what's put in front of her. If not, I'll offer up a salad or an apple later - something healthy in other words. I never, ever ask her to clean her plate (though if she wants seconds on items I consider to be less nutritious, she is expected to eat the salad or veggie first; she is also expected to try a bite of any new item before refusing it).

It's easy to give advice from the outside, so take this for what it's worth. I'm not an expert by any means!
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#6 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 04:36 PM
 
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Yeah--I try not to fight with my kids about food either. you've gotten some good suggestions from PP's. one thing that has really broadened my 4 year old DD's food horizons are books that involve food. it is actually really silly, and we just accidentally happened on to it. we picked out a book from the library called The Trouble With Cauliflower and after we read it she asked if we could have cauliflower for supper! we did, and she loved it! she's loved it ever since. i totally didn't mean to get the book as a food lesson or anything--it was just a random book that we picked up, but now we get a book involving a food about once a month, and she is always eager to try it. she doesn't always like the new food--but i am so happy that she is excited about trying new things now!
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#7 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you everyone. im meditating on all your ideas. i especially relate to explaining bodily functions and systems and the foods "powers" so to speak. this technique again, works with the other kids but not so much with Ari, lol. he's just a unique guy in many ways. i think the idea of presenting one healthy item at each meal that i know he will eat is good. and i also want to try to only offer high-nutrient snacks between meals such as fruit, cheese or meat. i know that rewarding for eating is bad, i also know that attaching consequences other than hunger for not eating is not ideal either. i am going to need to wean myself from these tactics. i guess its true that being hungry is its own lesson eventually if he wont eat a meal. i just get anxious that he needs to eat something or that ill scar him emotionally for life by strongly urging him to eat food he thinks he wont like.
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#8 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 06:33 PM
 
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I don't have a lot of words of wisdom since we struggle to get our 4yo to eat as well. It's not so much that she's overwhelmingly picky (but she is a bit picky) it's that she just can't focus. Dinner can be a 2 hour affair. She picks, plays, picks, plays. We even have a no getting up from the table rule and she still finds a way to stall and play while sitting at the table. I don't want to force food and create food issues - heaven knows I struggle with my own food issues - but, I also really can't stand getting her all ready for bed, tucked in and then 5 minutes later she comes down hungry because she didn't eat.

Food issues are really tough. I hope you find something that works for your family.
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#9 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 08:24 PM
 
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I have one child who has MUCH different eating patterns than my other 3 children.

First off, I don't fight about foods.

Second, I don't force my kids to eat.

Third, I offer healthy foods. If kids are hungry, they can choose to eat what I offer. If they choose not to eat what I have offered, they can eat again at the next meal or snack time.

No fighting, no fuss, no forcing the issue.

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
I'm an unintentional weasel feeder and I suck at proofreading.
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#10 of 12 Old 01-19-2008, 09:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdahoMom View Post
I'd be careful about attaching conditions and consequences with food. On the other hand, this house is anything but a short-order kitchen. I try to accomidate food likes within reason, but I make one meal for everyone and that's what is available to eat. If they're hungry and want a snack an hour later, I might suggest a healthy alternative if it's available, or I might tell them they're welcome to eat the food I just made. But I won't bend over backwards to make them eat. The natural consequence of not eating is being hungry, and as long as they're healthy (they are), it's their choice to make.
I agree this is what we do. If they don't eat then they don't eat but I"m not going to make them something else until it is either the next meal or snack time.

Right now by attaching this no toys will be bought until everyone eats breakfast you are punishing the other 2 kids for no reason. If he doesn't eat, then he gets hungry & is old enough to understand the consequences(hunger until the next meal) of not eating.
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#11 of 12 Old 01-20-2008, 03:31 AM
 
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There's an awesome book called My Child Won't Eat by Carlos Gonzaìlez. It's a La Leche League book and we have it in our group library. If you have a local group you might be able to borrow it from them, or you might find it at a library.

We deal with food struggles with DS and the book helped me to change my perspective. Not to say we still don't fight, but I'm trying to change!

Kim - Wife to Liam , Unschooly mama to Nick (10/00) Lily (09/05) and Olivia (07/09)
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#12 of 12 Old 01-20-2008, 03:46 AM
 
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Like a PP said, it's easy to give advice from the outside, so take this as you may.

We have regular meals. Nobody is forced to sit down and eat. If someone is hungry, they are welcome to eat healthy food, at any time. Veggies, fruits, yogurt, etc. We try to limit the junk we have, though sometimes we have cookies, etc. They can eat a bunch because we buy them in limited quantities, and seldom, so when they are gone they're gone. We also try to make banana bread, oatmeal cookies, etc. at home so they have healthy snack options. Then they just eat what they want, when they want. If they are eating healthy food, who cares when they eat it. If you want social time with them, you can ask them to keep you company while you eat, or you can play with them later. But what is gained by forcing them to sit and eat? IMO it undermines everything one could hope to accomplish.
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