to withdraw privileges for not eating dinner....?

(76 Posts)
fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 18:10:18

....by screaming 'RIGHT THAT'S IT! NO TV OR WII TONIGHT' so loud my throat hurts.

I've only been on mumsnet a couple of weeks, but am thinking maybe IAMBU.

My kids are 3 and 4.5. Tonight, as usual, they both sat staring at their dinner (chicken fried rice, from last night's leftover roast). The 3 year old tried to get down from the table after 1 minute. The 4 year old, who is particularly bad at this, sits sucking his fingers, looking knackered and saying 'I don't like this it's yucky'.

This happens almost every night, and most lunchtimes, unless it is fish fingers or fish n chips.

I know this is pretty common, but it is SUCH an emotive issue isn't it. The 4 year old has a fast metabolism (like me), and I know if he doesn't eat regularly and a decent amount of protein his energy slumps and he flops about all over the place. He has real spikes and dips of energy.

He's tested negative for anaemia, diabetes etc, so it does just seem food related, and I try and give regular small protein snacks to keep him going - but so he definitely still has room for meals.

We've tried bribes (eat up you'll get your yogurt), ignoring, letting him go to bed hungry, involving them in the cooking process, spoon feeding (!) and nothing seems to work. Stubborn little sod.

FUCK SAKE it's SOOOOOOOOO ANNOYING. And tonight I let myself get proper angry blush.

So withdrawal of TV/WII privilege. Bad move on part? Unreasonsable as fuck?

How to keep calm? And what in all that is holy will encourage them to eat?

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 19:36:51

I would take all emotion out of it. At the moment they are getting a lot of attention.
Serve the meal. They either eat it or don't eat it. If they don't eat it-take it away without comment. Don't comment if they do eat it. Serve pudding the same. Do not serve snacks or alternatives. If they say they are hungry say in a bored, mildly surprised voice 'well you would-you didn't eat dinner'. They won't starve.

Yfronts Mon 04-Feb-13 19:53:22

No, you need to take stock and stay calm.
Stop the snacking in between meals.
Or give them much much much smaller snacks two hours before a meal.
Also stop the negative attention/punishments for not eating.
Chat about every bodies day and enjoy their company whilst eating.
Keep everyone at the table for social reasons.
Don't pass comment on the food intake or make food a battleground.
If they don't eat say 'it's fine, your dinner will be here if you feel hungry later'
Don't offer alternatives but do point them in the direction of the left meal if they are hungry later.

Yfronts Mon 04-Feb-13 19:54:54

ps - children generally eat as much as they need.

2rebecca Mon 04-Feb-13 19:56:26

I agree with exotic fruits. We also have a "you don't get down from the table until everyone has finished" rule which means they can't go and do something more interesting (which means you finish your dinner without wondering what they are up to) and learn to sit at the table for more than 5 minutes. They usually eat more whilst hanging around waiting. Also no alternative food if they don't eat their dinner. No emotional blackmail re eating dinner, the adults make positive comments about their food and get on with eating it.

Imsosorryalan Mon 04-Feb-13 20:08:29

This post came at the right time for me! Again, dd1 has been refusing to eat dinner. Normally, I don't make an issue and just give her pudding. However, I'm finding now she is deliberately not eating a reasonable amount of dinner and just wanting her pudding!
She has a very sweet tooth. Should I stop pudding altogether?
<sorry to hijack your thread op;)>

skullcandy Mon 04-Feb-13 21:03:33

i would stop offering pudding, separate it from the meal time by 30 mins or so or something.

fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 21:13:16

Ok, thanks folks. Quite a range of advice from: I am being cruel and potentially giving my children eating disorders to I serve manky fried chicken to helpful practical suggestions and even empathy. Oh, and serving up fish fingers EVERY night is ok?!

Guess that what happens when you post here! Cool.

Some great advice, I'll definitely aim to stop focusing on it, have us all sit at the table till adults are finished, offer dinner in smaller portions and include something he likes in each meal.

I will attempt to not take it personally (love the teenager comment amicissimme ! I'm sure you're so right).

And MrsMushroom, yes I do always want to eat my dinner for I am a greedy stuffer.....and yes a GP, paediatrician and nutritionist have confirmed to me that some children/people do just have more sensitive blood sugar levels.

I'm not one for namby-pambying children or looking for issues that aren't there, but when the nursery staff, extended family and many friends all point out DS's extreme energy spikes and dips I'd be doing a pretty crap job as a parent NOT to try to address it. Non?

TeWiSavesTheDay Mon 04-Feb-13 21:20:23

People talk such bollocks about food and fussiness, ignore them.

I find it extremely annoying too, and have been trying to do the at least one thing they like technique.

I also try and serve at least two meals a day that they definitely will eat. This means that currently breakfast is very big and lunch is very limited but no one is going to bed hungry if they don't eat their dinner.

Twattybollocks Mon 04-Feb-13 21:21:45

Yabu to punish for not eating. I have 2 picky eaters and I feel your pain but it won't help you in the long run. My tactics are these. First, offer at least one thing on the plate that you know they will eat. Second, do very small portions so they aren't outfaced. Third, never ask for a clean plate, only that they have a good attempt. Fourth, if they are refusing to try something, ask them to have just one mouthful, and if they don't like it, they don't have to eat it.
If they mess about with their food, give it 15 minutes and remove plates. It's then tough titty if they are hungry, offer fruit only until the next meal.
Re the getting up from the table, that's a separate issue to tackle, I would be using the naughty step or similar to enforce sitting at the table politely and nicely.

Mumsyblouse Mon 04-Feb-13 21:30:15

I found serving the food in dishes and just leaving them to help themselves worked very well to avoid food battles.

I get what you are saying about the blood sugar, except you've taken your child to three different medical professionals and they are all saying they are fine, so ultimately a bit of a flop here and there is nothing, and may be part of his/her personality (extreme activity then flopping). I think your concern about blood sugar is letting them lead you a merry dance, and it's better to reestablish a calm uninterested exterior, otherwise this could go on for years. That's not to say they don't have up and down blood sugar, but it can't be that extreme, and you stand more chance of getting what you want if you downplay any such thing, show a lack of interest in what is eaten, and stick to your guns (so what isn't eaten is re-presented later, or they are given a choice but no pudding til eaten or whatever).

2rebecca Mon 04-Feb-13 21:31:52

We don't always have pudding and when the kids were young if there was pudding I often wouldn't mention it until main courses were finished and not put out spoons, although if serving pudding I did smaller main courses so they weren't too full for pudding. No pudding unless dinner finished (unless something new they haven't liked) was always a rule.
I'm amazed at the number of families who regularly have 2 course meals.

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:18:54

Withholding puddings gives the idea that they are nicer!
Serving food in bowls and helping themselves is a good idea- it makes them feel they have some control.

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:22:18

It is far more difficult when they are your DCs because they pick up on body language and they know that, whatever you say, you are very anxious about it. If they came to me they are more likely to eat because they would tell that I have done my bit by serving it and I'm really not bothered if they leave it or if they are hungry- that is the difference!

xamillion Mon 04-Feb-13 22:27:22

You don't need pudding every day surely?

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:45:06

I like pudding everyday! Generally yoghurt or fruit.

SirIronBottom Tue 05-Feb-13 02:17:06

I don't have any experience of this but all I can say is that I used to live with a friend who had regular battles with her DF as a kid over food - and now she is the second-fussiest eater I know (the most fussy being my MIL).

CheerfulYank Tue 05-Feb-13 03:09:34

I think there are some kids who really will not eat much...they will make themselves sick first. And in that instance I'd say feed them whatever they will eat.

But a lot of kids are picky because they are allowed to be...my niece and nephew for example. EVERY family gathering turns into a monologue from their mother on what they will or won't eat, how they are soooo picky, etc. She's been bringing chicken fingers and yogurt tubes everywhere since they started solids, they've never had a chance to eat normally. Arrgh! OK, sorry.

Anyhoo, of course you are not being cruel, you just lost it. It happens. I'd go with the good advice here...serve small portions, with something alongside that they will eat.(Tonight we had pork chops with peas and rice, which DS was unsure about, and strawberries, which he loves. So he ate the berries first and asked for more. We just said 'in a few minutes, eat a few bites of your other things first." He ended up with seconds on everything so it worked out smile )

Keeping them at the table til everyone finishes is a good one - it's just polite, and also they may eat out of boredom. Forcing, bribing, or making a big fuss is not a good idea.

Good luck! Can be sooo frustrating, can't it?

Morloth Tue 05-Feb-13 03:16:16

It is my job to provide my kids with healthy nutritious food in appropriate amounts.

I do so, what they put in their mouths is their business.

No battles, no struggles for control.

So you cook dinner, you place it in front of them and just let them do their thing. Just try not to worry about it. Barring any SNs they will eat when they get hungry enough.

HollyBerryBush Tue 05-Feb-13 06:43:16

Not everyone, children included like massive meals.

Children, IMHO should be fed and watered like horses, little and often. Smaller meals, more frequently.

themaltesecat Tue 05-Feb-13 07:07:06

No advice, just sympathy. My toddler barely sees to eat anything some days, but remains as delightfully well-rounded as ever. They do seem to know how much they need. Heart-breaking when salmon and lovingly steamed veggies are rejected in favour of those awful little wrapped cheeses and minuscule portions of bread and butter, but the ungrateful little bastards seem to flourish nonetheless.

BlackholesAndRevelations Tue 05-Feb-13 08:43:01

My sixteen month old regularly only has about three mouthfuls of his dinner before deciding that's enough. It doesn't worry me but seems to worry/annoy (?) my childminder.

Twattybollocks Tue 05-Feb-13 11:56:47

And yes, they seem to grow up fine regardless. My younger sister survived on a diet of chicken in plum sauce and rice, pizza and Spag Bol until she was about 11, she grew up just fine. It is incredibly frustrating, especially when the amount eaten seems to be inversely proportional to how long it took to make!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 05-Feb-13 12:09:38

OP I do feel for you. DS1 goes through phases like this and I do worry about him - although most of the time he self-regulates very well.

It is all very well to say 'take it away if they don't eat it and offer a sandwich later'. If I did that then some weeks he would only eat sandwiches, because he would know it was coming later if he just sat tight long enough - and he would never try anything new.

MrsMushroom Tue 05-Feb-13 12:17:44

Well you don't only offer sandwiches Alibaba...you offer fruit, vegetables cut up with some peanut butter, yogurt or soup etc.

Small children don't need massive hot meals ALL the time...as long as they have a good varied diet....even then...my 4 year old survived on cucumber and bread for a week once...she was fine and still is.

MrsMushroom Tue 05-Feb-13 12:19:11

Yank eating out of boredom because you are trapped at the table is NOT a good thing.

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