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Thread: Do you think it's cruel not to make children extra food if they don't like what you made? Reply to Thread
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02-05-2013 10:13 AM
cristina47454

If you want to do a positive reinforcement type thing, we've also used plastic coins they could turn in for rewards. Haven't used that for meal time, but it's worked on long car rides. Keep meaning to try the "caught you being good" coupons around the house, but haven't gotten my act together. 

02-04-2013 10:53 PM
pek64
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristina47454 View Post

We used to play an m&m game. Three m&ms per child at dinner. The m&ms were earned for different things.Napkin on the lap, staying seated the entire meal, the adventure bite. When the behavior stuck, we'd rotate in a different one. Amazing what a kid will do for an m&m. LOL. We haven't done that game in a long, long time, and actually, I think we tried it once with my now 4 year old (because it had worked so beautifully with the older two) - but she quickly realized she didn't like m&ms all that much and they weren't worth the effort. I feel a bit conflicted about using candy as a reward - our potty training efforts ("potty training in less than a day") had a similar reward system and honestly, it bothered me.  But it worked. So, I guess...I don't know.  We aren't a dessert eating family, so three m&ms seem harmless. And I don't see any food-issues rearing their heads with my older kids bcs I used food as a reward...yeah, can you tell I'm a little conflicted about it? But I'll tell you, family mealtimes used to run a lot more smoothly when that game was in effect!

M&Ms don't exist in our house, due to food allergies/intolerances, so this approach wouldn't work. I know of families that use M&Ms as reward for schoolwork, too. Oh, well. Next idea?
02-04-2013 07:29 PM
MichelleZB

Your eight-year-old is definitely old enough to make dinner with you. She can choose a meal she'd like to eat, and she can cook it herself for everyone (with your supervision). You can do this at least once a week, especially since you say they don't have any homework. That way she'll be learning to make food for herself as well as being involved with some menu planning.

02-04-2013 06:42 PM
cristina47454

We used to play an m&m game. Three m&ms per child at dinner. The m&ms were earned for different things.Napkin on the lap, staying seated the entire meal, the adventure bite. When the behavior stuck, we'd rotate in a different one. Amazing what a kid will do for an m&m. LOL. We haven't done that game in a long, long time, and actually, I think we tried it once with my now 4 year old (because it had worked so beautifully with the older two) - but she quickly realized she didn't like m&ms all that much and they weren't worth the effort. I feel a bit conflicted about using candy as a reward - our potty training efforts ("potty training in less than a day") had a similar reward system and honestly, it bothered me.  But it worked. So, I guess...I don't know.  We aren't a dessert eating family, so three m&ms seem harmless. And I don't see any food-issues rearing their heads with my older kids bcs I used food as a reward...yeah, can you tell I'm a little conflicted about it? But I'll tell you, family mealtimes used to run a lot more smoothly when that game was in effect!

02-04-2013 05:06 PM
SweetSilver

So, how do parents enforce this "adventure bite", "one bite/ two bite" rule?  One easy answer would be, state the rule and then the child complies, perhaps after some complaining and hearing the rule restated.  

 

But what happens when a child really digs his heels in?  

 

I ask because I think many parents have children who comply relatively easily regarding food and family meals.  Or perhaps they are motivated somewhat by hunger, at least compared to many posters' children who I know are unmotivated by hunger at all and will dig their heels in, regardless of how empty their bellies are.  

02-04-2013 04:50 PM
cristina47454

I am blessed with good eaters. My dds are 11, 8, and 4. Well, when I say "good eaters", I mean, they will eat any fancy-pants, ethnic food I prepare, but balk at the simple stuff. It's like a reverse blessing. That being said, I lovelovelove beans, and none of my kids have ever been fans. It took years and years of me preparing and serving beans for them to FINALLY eat them at a meal without grousing. I consider it an accomplishment on my part. I never forced them to eat beans. We have an "adventure bite" rule and they have seen me enjoying beans. On the nights that I'd serve beans, they had to sit at the table and could have something else after their adventure bite and after dinner. Usually a PB sandwich, but they aren't huge PB fans either, so it was more a question of having a full belly than it was about having a dinner they enjoyed (Cereal is NEVER an option bcs two of the three eat that stuff like dessert, and could go through a box without thinking about it...and that's the low sugar healthy stuff!). The girls still don't LOVE beans, but they will eat them (I don't make them very often, and never really did...maybe once or twice a month).  What I think is wonderful is that they have learned to be polite about it - which I think will serve them well when they are eating at a friend's house or are out at a restaurant and I am not there to mediate. I'm also thrilled that they are eating chia seeds.  That was always just an add-in option, never a do or die situation, but I love the blasted things, and they now ask for them in their yogurt. I think sometimes foods have to be presented several times for the foods to be appreciated.

01-25-2013 02:08 PM
rightkindofme I was a horribly picky child. Now I eat vegetables daily. It's hecka weird.
01-25-2013 12:21 PM
kathymuggle
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post


Between my policy of "eat this or make your own dinner" and my policy of "no late afternoon snacking"... our mealtimes are peaceful and pleasant times to re-connect at the end of the day. My oldest was just home from college over the holidays and she said one of things she missed most about being away was our dinners as a family.happytears.gif

 

Sweet.

 

When I was 18 my family left for a cottage for a summer.  I was fending for myself, food wise, for the first time in my life.

 

I ate nothing but hamburger and KD for 6 weeks.

 

I was so thrilled when my family came home and made real meals.  I literally pounced on the veggies and stuff I once semi-spurned.  

 

It was a bit of turning point for me, actually.

01-25-2013 12:15 PM
kathymuggle

I have 3 kids.  One is not picky, one moderately picky and one very picky.  I do not think how kids are raised always relates to how picky they are.  

 

They are responsible for getting their own breakfast, lunch, snacks.  I try to keep healthy, yummy food present, and junky ones to a minimum, but that is it.  

 

I make one supper, but am open to leaving things out if people really hate them and it will ruin the meal for them.  I like peppers, the 3 kids do not.  It is no skin off my back to add peppers to my salad and leave the main bowl of salad pepper free.  I do try to make meals that most people like a couple of times a week, but I am not extreme about it.  

 

The two kids who are picky can fend for themselves (which includes clean-up) if they want a different supper.   They are old enough to.  When they were not old enough to, I would get them yoghurt, fruit, hummus and crackers, carrot sticks - whatever was healthy and simple.  

 

All 3 of my kids have a fairly healthy attitudes towards food and their bodies.  Yeah, I wish 2 were less picky - oh, well.  They are not over or under weight, they do not use food inappropriately (say out of boredom or emotional eating), they are not addicted to junk food,  there is not even a hint of eating disorders….we are good.  

 

I am not convinced picky kids grow into picky adults, either.

01-24-2013 10:26 PM
pek64 Again, there is a difference between being considerate and serving kids junk food. Please don't misinterpret my posts. I do not, never have, never will, feed my son anything I felt had no value, just so he would eat. If I were going to do that, why worry about him eating only cereal for dinner every night? I gave him healthy and familiar meals for years, until he wanted more variety. And I always kept his food issues in mind. He gets migraines from sugar, artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors, so I keep things natural, and make fron scratch. It's more effort on my part, but I've benefitted, too!!

I don't know if we're really that far apart on the issue in practice, just in words.
01-24-2013 10:16 PM
philomom
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

The question, when deciding if it's ok for the child to get him/herself something instead of eating the prepared dinner, really is 'how often is "on occasion"?' If it's more than once a week, I think the cook has to do more to provide for the child. I don't think anyone is saying the cook has to completely cater to a child. But catering only to the adults, or only the cook, is what is unacceptable.

So, how often is "occasionally"?

Maybe twice a month.

I plan meals with my kids most of the time. I'm also careful to leave certain meals "deconstructed" so they can eat it the way they like. For example, beef stroganoff. My daughter loves the steak bits, the egg noodle pasta and the mushrooms. She despises the gravy that is made with sour cream. I make this meal and everyone mixes it on their own plate by serving themselves from separate bowls. You can do tacos and Mexican salads this way, too.

Between my policy of "eat this or make your own dinner" and my policy of "no late afternoon snacking"... our mealtimes are peaceful and pleasant times to re-connect at the end of the day. My oldest was just home from college over the holidays and she said one of things she missed most about being away was our dinners as a family.happytears.gif

Now pek, on the flip side of this issue ......I know a mom who made a "grown ups meal" and "kid's meal" every night for 15 years and her kids have a very poor diet of typical American fare. Chicken nuggets, macaroni, pizza and such. All the while, she and her hubby ate a real meal each evening with lovely veggies and variety. I don't think she did her kids any favors by this and she was always complaining what a chore it was to cater to the kids but "they don't eat anything else".
01-24-2013 09:22 AM
pek64 The question, when deciding if it's ok for the child to get him/herself something instead of eating the prepared dinner, really is 'how often is "on occasion"?' If it's more than once a week, I think the cook has to do more to provide for the child. I don't think anyone is saying the cook has to completely cater to a child. But catering only to the adults, or only the cook, is what is unacceptable.

So, how often is "occasionally"?
01-23-2013 11:53 AM
Sol_y_Paz
Quote:

Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post
I guess it depends on how you handle the situation. Forcing your child to sit at the table until they eat the food you made or refusing to let them eat any other food until that particular plate of food was eaten would be cruel, IMO. Trying to make them feel bad or punishing them would be cruel.

Teaching the kids to not make a fuss and just go get a sandwich, fruit or a bowl of cereal occasionally if they don't want the meal made sounds healthy and reasonable to me. 

 

In my home, I ask everyone for input when I plan meals. I take dd's suggestions for a few nights each week.

This.

01-23-2013 08:44 AM
SweetSilver
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

 

We've also found that growing a large, organic garden helps our kids love their vegetables! 

This does help!  My veg-phobic younger daughter becomes a regular rabbit during the growing season.  Both graze on peas, raw kale, carrots straight from the garden bed.... doesn't work with every single thing.  They still won't eat tomatoes unless they come in a ketchup bottle.    

01-22-2013 08:50 PM
A&A

I haven't read the other replies, but this is how I feel about it:

 

As long as I'm blessed enough to have a multitude of food options in my house, my children will be able to eat something nutritious that they want to eat, even if it isn't what I first offered them.   We just do not have food battles in my house.  

 

We've also found that growing a large, organic garden helps our kids love their vegetables! 

01-22-2013 04:42 PM
littlest birds
Quote:
Originally Posted by k x s View Post

I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P


If you mean me, I really don't mind a bit because my only food agendas are to make those five people happy and well-fed.  We mostly rotate meals we know everyone likes, add an extra veggie sometimes, etc. 

 

My kids are all big enough to help make dinner anyway.  They are likely to be helping in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, etc. and when we have the pasts salad I dislike and others love, ds who adores it most actually does the cooking for the whole meal anyway.  Nobody's catering if I simply prepare myself a salad to avoid wheat...  The fact that everyone helps in the kitchen means no one is a victim and everyone can help make decisions about meal choices.  For instance since not everyone loves baked potatoes but everyone loves oven fries, I sometimes will just offer to make those but only if the kids will peel potatoes so it's not all my job to fulfill their wishes.

01-22-2013 04:39 PM
One_Girl
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post

I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

I often cook and eat food I am not fond of because my dd likes them. I would live on burritos, peas, and spaghetti if I could but I value variety for health reasons. If I make a food I know my dd will despise I make an alternate for her but this rarely happens anymore.

I think there is a big difference between not preparing extra food for a child who just wants an alternative to a food they also like and not offering an alternative to a food your child despises. I also think eating only carbs is a bad habit to get into, cereal for dinner each night isn't healthy, and that the alternative food should be in the same food group as the food that is skipped if substitutions are allowed.
01-22-2013 03:04 PM
zapzipzee

I didn't read all the replies, but, I do not think you are being unreasonable.

 

Personally, eating cereal for dinner drives me crazy and I would not allow that.  DH tries that and it REALLY irritates me.  Thing is, his mother didn't make meals, they just ate whatever they fixed themselves, or his dad ordered pizza, I guess...

 

I grew up with either my mom or my dad, and later my sister or I, fixing dinner.... EVERY NIGHT.  We either ate what was fixed, or went without.  My sister didn't like Baked Potatoes, so my mom allowed her to have cottage cheese instead.  I didn't like cottage cheese, and did like potatoes, so wasn't a problem growing up.

 

With DD and DH, I usually give them two choices of what they want for dinner... they decide, I make it (with DD's help now - she's much more likely to eat something she picked out and participated in making).

 

If DD doesn't eat her meal, I cover it and put it in the fridge, she's welcome to eat it later if she's hungry (sometimes I reheat, some times she gets it cold).  There's only been one meal I fixed her an alternate food... I made Thai Chicken Curry Soup... it was a little more spicy than the recipe let on...  She loves spicy... but it was HOT!  She got a different meal that night after taking one bite and not liking it, and a different meal when we ate the left overs....

 

Good Luck!

01-22-2013 12:36 PM
pek64
Quote:
Originally Posted by k x s View Post

I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P

Children do not ask to be born -- it is the parents who choose it. Providing food for the children you brought into this world is your responsibility. It is not cruel to be considerate. After all, you want your children to be considerate of you. Model consideration.

Has the OP abandoned this thread? I hope our bickering didn't drive her away.
01-22-2013 09:10 AM
SweetSilver
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post

I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

I agree.  

Quote:
Originally Posted by k x s View Post

I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P

It's not a choice between "eat this or go hungry" or catering to 5 people.  

 

I wear the badge of short order cook quite proudly, though admittedly out of necessity, and you do hear "I can't make that because I'm already making this".  My stove is clogged, or my pans are committed, or they asked for a baked potato at the last minute*.  It is not: "one lasagna, one spaghetti and meatballs, one stir-fry, one hamburger, and one bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, comin' right up!"  

 

It is a converstaion about wants, about what we have available, what one cook (and eventually more, hopefully!) can realistically prepare and have ready all together.  Some menu items can always be on the menu-- yogurt, toast, raw veggies, fruit, nuts, etc.

 

*this came up last night, actually.  It turned out that no one was hungry right off, I didn't have the rest of dinner started, and it wasn't that late in the evening, and 1/2 a baked potato sounded good to dh as well.  So, on this night, it did work out.  I popped the potato in the oven, sat at the table playing solitaire while the girls did their puzzle books.  Dinner was a little late, but no one minded.  This might not have worked on a different night, but tonight it did.

01-22-2013 08:06 AM
Greenlea
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post

I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

 

True. I rarely make something me and my DH don't like. BUT, we are not picky eaters at all. We will pretty much eat everything.  I dislike blueberries, but everyone else loves them, so I do bake with them or buy fresh ones for snacking. My DH won't touch shrimp, so I cook it on the side to add to me and the kids dishes.  But again, I'm not the type of person to make my kids eat something I know they don't like.

 

And I cut off snacking by about 3:00pm for dinner at 5:30pm. My kids will not eat dinner if they snack after that. But I will allow snacking after dinner if they are still hungry.  

01-22-2013 05:11 AM
k x s

I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P

01-21-2013 11:20 PM
littlest birds

We always have an afternoon snack but after that no snacking before dinner.  People are hungry when it gets to dinner time for sure.

01-21-2013 09:57 PM
VisionaryMom

I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

01-21-2013 08:02 PM
Infinity

I had a lot of food issues growing up, so I'm sensitive to this with my children. My parents were the type to force us to sit at the table and eat whatever was served, no matter what. There were times that we'd be at the table for close to 2 hours because we didn't want to eat what my mom had cooked.

 

We give our kids an option at dinner time - they can have "x" or "y", and we let them decide.

01-21-2013 08:00 PM
indigosky
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

I would recommend the book French Kids Eat Anything. It was well-written and also reassuring that most kids can eat most things.

Yes, I was just about to post to recommend this book! It's a great read, and even if you can't or don't want to adopt "the French way" of dealing with kids and food, I found it had a lot of good ideas, positive ways of talking with kids about food, reminders I found helpful. (For instance, since reading it we've pretty much eliminated snacking after 4 p.m., which I used to allow, as long as the snacks were healthy foods. Now when DD says she's hungry at 4, I say, "That's great, dinner will be so delicious! It feels so good to hear dinner when you're hungry." And surprise, surprise, she is much more likely to eat what we're having for dinner - variety, vegetables, and all -- because she is actually hungry at dinnertime.)
01-21-2013 07:28 PM
littlest birds

We've done different things.  When younger we allowed a sandwich or toast before we lightened up on wheat.  Now our main strategy is to mostly serve popular simple meals over and over in rotation. 

 

I try to accommodate different tastes up to a point.  Sometimes an extra vegetable for folks that might not like the other choice.  We do some assemble-your-own meals.  Like burritos/salads and sometimes pizza.  I avoid wheat--my kids love it.  Some love squash, some would rather have green beans.  I can easily make both, but NOT two separate main meals.  Kids can add baby carrots as an alternative to something they don't like. I can think ahead and know what people will dislike--it's mostly very established--so I decide whether to offer an alternative.  Leftovers from previous night's dinner make a good alternative.  Most of the dinners in our rotation meet with approval from most of the kids, our rotation is small, and new things are pretty simple so we know who will like what.  We have a limited enough budget and rationing attitude that everyone is pretty happy to eat.

 

Our ds has major pickiness issues BTW.  He will not eat any hot cereals, onions, tomatoes, squash, dislikes cooked fish, hates cooked rice, hates cream, never eats any type of yogurt, etc.  Would eat macaroni and hot dogs all the time... He has recently decided to stop eating baked potatoes, ever. He does have texture aversions and picks the stems of his salad leaves and other little things like that. 

 

I've just drawn my lines.  He can make his burrito his own way.  He can have green beans or a salad when we have squash.  He can replace a baked potato with veggies but can't also fill up the rest of the way with seconds of a meat if there was only enough for everyone to have one serving in the first place.  If he skips the rice, there may or may not be something to replace it with--or I mix the rice with the stir fry and that's all there is.  I will definitely grumble at him if he is trying to fill up on bread/ heaps of pasts with other choices available to balance that out. 

 

Some of the meals we make are his favorites and I don't like them myself.  In fact, I will often choose to make a main dish I prefer that the kids may be picky about on a day when we have a huge leftover pot of the favored pasta salad that I do not eat.  So when we have two "main courses" that is how we usually do it and it is based on my food choices because wheat makes me feel bad.

 

But everyone likes roasts, chicken soups, baked chicken, meat/broccoli/carrot stir fries, chili, baked bean/soups beans, oven fries or mashed potatoes, eggs and sausage, and everyone can make a salad or a burrito or a pizza that suits themselves.  I know that if I make dd's favorite tomato soup, I should expect to let ds eat something else but not special cooking--a leftover and maybe a sandwich.  That is probably less than one meal in twenty where we have that issue though.  We eat the same meals repeatedly.  There is not very much to be picky about that there isn't some simple alternative, and since I don't do much casserole or experimental mixed dishes there is almost no meal that isn't partly acceptable for a picky person and one course may be skipped or replaced without having a totally different meal.  I think that the predictability of choices is really good for our family.    

01-21-2013 07:15 AM
Greenlea
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

The breakfast and lunch question was because I was wondering how many rely on the schools to provide those meals. Of those who answered, it seems none. I was curious, because I have my doubts about the nutrition from school food. I've heard that some schools got into the practice of having fast food providers supply the food. But ... that's another thread!

Oh, well my kids aren't old enough to get school lunches yet. But I probably wouldn't let them eat much of the schools lunches anyways. We are vegetarians who don't eat much dairy due to intolerances. And I would think I could pack a healthier lunch than school would provide.

01-20-2013 05:43 PM
MountainMamaGC

Oh and another thing I do is let DD decide what we have for dinner about once or twice a week. That way she has some input into what we eat sometimes too. 

01-20-2013 05:10 PM
tanyam926 A real issue for me is not battling over food. I don't want any kind of power struggle over food in my house. In cultures with lots of available food and lots of junk it tends to have a different dynamic.

What I'm trying to say is that I want my children to feel respected and heard regarding their preferences and have positive associations that are relaxed and balanced when it comes to eating. I want them to internalize a love for real food and judging from all the different responses on this thread there may be many ways to accomplish that depending on the family and the personalities and abilities of those involved.

I have one picky eater, one who will eat anything and a third who falls in the middle mostly. I try to make things that everyone likes but it gets boring. If I want something I know my kids won't like I make something else for them. If there's a reasonable expectation that they will enjoy it and they don't, usually my oldest, he is welcome to get something else.
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