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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DD1 has been throwing terrible tantrums at dinnertime. I really don't enjoy my dinner anymore myself.<br>
I don't think I am so terribly strict or awful about it either. Basically she can eat as much or as little as she wants of whatever she wants. SHe doesn't like what I make adn eats only plain rice or pasta or bread (which is available) and sometimes she won't even eat that. She spends the whole time begging for dessert.<br>
She can have dessert regardless of how much she eats, but I serve it after dinner. She has to sit at the table with us to get dessert but she gets down and goes to play in her room. When I remind her as soon as she gets down that she won't get dessert, she throws a tantrum. If she gets right back in her chair I say, well, I guess you forgot, so that's OK, but a lot of times she will leave the table altogether and then throw a tantrum if she doesn't get dessert<br>
Sometimes the tanrtum is just about the fdact that she wants rice and not pasta but I refuse to be a short order cook. Or tonight it was because I asked her to help me set the table and told her she could put her own plate on the table. She didn't want to and then threw a tantrum when I pointeed out that she would need a plate if she wanted to eat dinner. Finally she didn't and went to play and after two reminders that she would not get dessert, she threw a tantrum and I had to eat while she was screaming.<br><br>
Please help my mealtime be more pleasant...<br><br>
So what is going on, why won't she eat anything and why is she throwing a huge tantrum
 

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Wow. Well, she's 3!<br><br>
This answer might go farther than you want to go. I think you need to cut out dessert altogether... for everyone, at least for a while. You are on the right track with not making food "an issue" and then you are shooting yourself in the foot by making sweets THE issue.<br><br>
Serve what you choose to serve for dinner. Make sure that she always has 100% access to a handful of nutritious foods that she is willing to eat and then step away. "Papa and I are having X for dinner. You can join us or you can get some cut apples/ carrot sticks/ peanut butter/ cubed cheese/ cold, cooked rice/ cold cooked pasta for yourself. " There will be some difficult evenings but then I think it will settle down. Also, try focusing less on the food and more on the pleasure of, the fun of, sitting at the table together, by choice. Also, consider giving her some power <i>before</i> the struggle starts. Ask her the day before or early enough in the day to choose between two things to prepare for dinner. Let her pick who gets which piece of eat,which potato, etc...<br><br>
(I realise some of this is contradictory... I am throwing ideas out and hoping something might make sense for your family and be helpful.)
 

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I do something very similar to what Kama suggested. Dessert is normally not served. I make what I want for dh and I, and then I provide lots of kid-friendly standards for her either easily accessible in the fridge, or served ala carte on the table (cut apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, yogurt....). More and more, she is eating what we have. She is even requesting sauce on her pasta now! But for a long time, she liked everything plain (unseasoned). As long as it is healthy food, and no more cooking for me, I am happy.<br><br>
We rarely have dessert, but when we do--and dd knows about it beforehand--she can sometimes get so fixated that she just begs and begs and begs. So, on the few occasions that we have dessert, if she asks for it with dinner (politely, of course), I give it to her <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug">. I have seen her, on several occasions, happily eat her dinner along side her dessert, or ask for my broccoli, please, after wolfing down a scoop of ice cream <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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Unless it is a special occasion, dessert is FRESH FRUIT for us. Maybe it's cultural (hubby is European and we live in Europe now), but we don't eat cakes, pies, cobblers, cookies, etc. for dessert. Those are very, very special treats for us. We eat such foods probably less than once a month. So... when dd doesn't want dinner (she gets whatever we are eating and it's a rare moment when she doesn't eat what's put in front of her) it's not a big deal because she always gets "dessert", but it's still healthy.<br><br>
As long as you keep dessert healthy, then I don't see a problem. But skipping the "real" food for sugary/fatty/processed food is not a good thing, IMHO. Since you're asking the question, your heart must be telling you something. Go with what it's telling you.
 

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We never have dessert (except for special occasions), but I can tell you with some certainty that if we did, it would be the source of many tantrums. I know this because we seem to get tantrums anytime we have a special (usually sugary) food in the house that we don't want dd to eat a lot of. As soon as she realizes that she cannot have unrestricted access to the food item in question, she gets fixated on it, it becomes a big issue, and tantrums are soon to follow.<br><br>
I know this is a little bit different, but I would also second getting rid of the dessert. Or, better yet, have dessert after the kids go to bed!
 

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Why is staying at the table so important for you? If you are taking this time to catch up on the day, discuss things with your partner and such, maybe she's just plain bored? Especially if you are talking above her head and not involving her in the conversation. I know that's often what happens at our house. For us, sitting down together, saying grace, and begining to eat together is important. But neither of my children have the patience to sit until my DH and I are ready to get up. So they eat, ask to be excused, and leave when they are ready. They eat what we eat or get themselves an approved substitute -- generally a yogurt or cheese (for protein) or fruit (if they didn't like the veggie). Dessert is served as a separate occassion, after we have finished dinner, cleared the table, and finished the dishes. That way it is less of an issue and doesn't get connected with dinner behaviour. Anyway, I think you need to ask yourself whether the ideal of sitting together all the way through dinner is worth the drama it causes. If it is, then you need to stick to your rules and deal with the consequences. If it isn't, then let it go and let her play when she is done eating.
 

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ditto the what's already been said about dessert...<br>
you're already more lienent than I am. I try to make at least one component that I'm sure the kids will eat but I never make anything special or that isn't part of my dinner. My kids eat what's put in front of them or they don't eat. They don't have to eat it all, they don't have to eat any of it but they do need to sit at the table as dinner time is family time. None of my kids are picky eaters (In fact I'm probably more picky than they are) they almost always eat everything they are served and usually ask for more. But if they don't want to eat they are still involved in the table talk (which usually is telling Dad about thier day) if they don't want to do that then they are required to be in thier room until the rest of us are done eating.
 

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OK, just a few thoughts -<br><br>
If she just wants rice or pasta, make large batches of each and keep them in the fridge to reheat. That way she can choose what to have each day, or have both, or change her mind, and no extra work for you!<br><br>
Does she really have to use a plate? If she'll eat straight off the table, why not try that? If it's a finished wood table it should be easy to clean.<br><br>
My guess is she doesn't make the connection between dessert and eating at the table. What does one have to do with another? If the tantrums stop, is it really that bad if she wants to play in her room while everyone else eats? Maybe she just gets hungry at a time that's a little bit different than the rest of the family, and doesn't want to sit at the table if she is not eating. Would you want to sit somewhere for something you didn't want yet?<br><br>
Another plus for keeping rice and pasta in the fridge - when she decides she wants to eat, it's easy to just pull some out and reheat!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dessert usually is some goat yogurt with a touch of sugar or honey (or it really is very sour). Rarely it will be graham crackers, a pumpkin cookie, soy yogurt or soy ice cream. We are limited in what we can serve anyway because of allergies, but it is still a healthy food. Just sweeter than dinner and served afterwards.<br>
I always have carrot sticks and fresh fruit and sometimes beans or other stuff at dinner that she can eat as much or as little of as she wants. I don't cook her anything special, I just don't mix the plain rice/pasta/bread with sauce before I set it at the table. Then she can eat that. On a rare occasion that we are having something too spicy or a casserole I will make her somethign on the side but I still serve it family style so that it is as if it is part of the dinner. I offer to her that she can have any of the foods that are at the table and IMO she can make a meal out of what is there every night should she choose to do so.<br>
DH is hardly ever home, so dinner is only as long as it takes me to wolf down my food and with 2 kids that is FAST! :LOL If we are both home and it looks like we take a long time she can excuse herself from the table, but usually we linger after dessert. I want her to sit at the table because I made the effort to fix food and serve it and because families sit at the table together.<br>
I am wondering if it is just a stage she is going through. Or because we have had lots of visitors? Or because she got candy after halloween and then treats during the holidays? Personally I am not big on dessert and will generally wait till later and have some tea and something to eat if I am hungry.
 

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If dessert is totally healthy, why just just put it on the table and let her eat it? Or why not just let her have it even if she left the table? If it is not healthy, don't serve it at all. Forcing her to sit at the table and then rewarding her with food is causing this to be a power struggle. "If you do this, then you can have that" is really never a way to harmony.<br><br>
A lot of kids her age don't eat much, then they hit a growth spurt and eat quite a bit. It is just a normal cycle for most kids. I find with my kids that they don't eat well at meal times if they have much junk in their diets, but that when I am able to consistantly feed them healthy foods they eat much better. But it sounds like you are already eating very healthy!<br><br>
Some kids are just pickier than others, too. One of mine will eat anything, the other is super picky. They've been raised the same way so I can only figure this is one of those things they are just born with.<br><br>
On a last note, I do not let my children throw tantrums in the main part of the house. They have to take it to their room. They are allowed to rejoin the family when they are ready. There is no punishment, but I just won't have a child scream at me to get their way. This is VERY cut and dry for me.
 

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So many people have posted threads about how their children don't see the importance of eating together as a family. Maybe it's just not as important to children as it is to adults, and that there is nothing right now that can convince them otherwise? I also think it's important but that it can wait. If dinner will go much more smoothly, I'd be willing to let my dc win this battle.<br><br>
Sometimes it's what I have to do. If I force her to stay at the table she will start throwing food and making a mess and tormenting the baby (probably because she knows she will get sent to her room and then be able to leave the table!), so I just let her get down. That way, everyone wins.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Greaseball</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">So many people have posted threads about how their children don't see the importance of eating together as a family. Maybe it's just not as important to children as it is to adults <snip>.</div>
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I agree that most kids don't understand the importance of "family time" so we make a point to ask questions of the kids and have a discussion going usually while we are setting the table so it's just natural to sit and continue the conversation.
 

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Ugh, good luck! What a tough issue.<br>
I do agree re: desserts. We usually have fresh fruit for dessert if we have anything at all. It would be a really tough thing for you to phase out but you can if you want. I'd make sure you don't put any responsibility on her, though, for the loss of desserts<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
My kids actually love dinner and have a ball telling daddy about their day. They eat what we eat and always have so we've never had an issue, fortunately. I guess, in your boat, I'd just stay calm and ignore it. :LOL And, no more food for the evening. If she's hungry, she's welcome to have some yogurt and that's it. I think I did this for a couple of weeks for one of my kids. Not being punitive but honey this is just the only option you have. hug hug kiss kiss big smile. Just do whatever works best for your family. But, please reconsider the sugar.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/mischievous.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="mischief"><br><br>
Remember, even negative attention is attention. It sounds like she's hot for the dessert and entering into a power struggle w/you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I guess its true that I have made dessert THE issue and I need to back out of the struggle. Maybe just giving it to her, since it IS healthy, is just the thing. She really eats well the rest of the day (but never a vegetable!!!) so I am not worried in general anyway.<br>
Actually one way to get her to eat a healthy lunch is to call it a snack plate and give her toast, carrot sticks, avocado, apple and coldcuts on a plate. It is a sandwich which has not been assembled LOL :LOL<br><br>
OK I have to fix dinner. We are having healty nachos <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/yummy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yummy"><br><br>
Thanks for the feedback, it helps me to look at what is really going on and not just what is bugging me..
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>nuggetsmom</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Actually one way to get her to eat a healthy lunch is to call it a snack plate and give her toast, carrot sticks, avocado, apple and coldcuts on a plate. It is a sandwich which has not been assembled LOL :LOL<br>
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We do this! We call it a "platter". It always gets gobbled down faster than an assembled "meal" <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 
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