Monday, September 27, 2010

The Great Food Battle

I have a four-year-old who literally whines ALL day that he's hungry. Every ten to fifteen minutes, he'll come to me, "Mom, I'm hungry!" Even if we just ate.

Then when I serve lunch, he requests a certain type of sandwich or chicken nuggets or a quesadilla. So I make it, mistakenly thinking that if he's asked for it, it's what he really wants, so he'll eat it. He takes about two bites and declares himself full and wants to get down from the table.

In today's modern theories of child-rearing, it is said to not use dessert as a bribe. But my children will certainly not get dessert if they don't touch their food at all. Sometimes I barter: "Take three more bites and you can have dessert." But that's tricky because then they start putting one pea on their spoon and calling it a bite.

I've also read that you should offer lots of choices. I have a hard enough time thinking of a main dish and a couple sides seven nights a week, so offering more than that is next to impossible. Plus, then, what if all they ever eat is the fruit? I always serve a fruit side (usually a mixed fruit salad), a vegetable, and the main dish, which is often something like spaghetti or beef stew.

My parents would sometimes make us sit there until we ate our food. I remember one particularly stubborn brother would sit there for hours, refusing to touch his food. Then they would cover his plate and put it in the fridge and he would have to eat it for breakfast the next morning. I'm not sure that worked.

So do you have any tricks that work? Because I'm getting desperate.


Devin & Ruthann said...

Well, I have the same problem so I don't have any advise that works!

Amber said...

Yeah, no advice here either. Emily is picky but I just don't think about it. So, if you want to be perfect like me, (as if) you could try my method.

1. Continue with the variety (i.e. veggies, main dish, and fruit).

2. If he doesn't eat it, try to ignore it.

3. Tell him he can have only one (or two, however many you decide) in between meals. If he complains about hunger, give him milk or water because they fill little tummies.

4. Try to keep food casual. I think the more fuss we make, the more resistant our kids can be.

5. Tell me if this works so that I can try it with my little ones when they turn 4. : )

Spring said...

They're all so different. With my oldest, I have to really lay down the law that she MUST at least try 2 bites of something before she can truthfully declare she hates it. I will make her a sandwich if there's something I make that really makes her gag, 'cuz I think you should enjoy eating. My 2nd is totally different. She will eat if I put it in her mouth for her. She's old enough to feed herself, and used to really well. But she's got a little ocd about getting messy. So she stopped eating and stopped growing. So even though she's 3 1/2, I literally spoon feed her. With my oldest, if she's just being whiny about the fact that what we're eating isn't her favorite, I set the timer. If she doesn't feed herself, I will. And she knows that it's no fun if mommy has to do it. I'm also not a stickler for cleaning the plate, if they've eaten "enough." For Brynn, it's one bite for every year old she is. Aaron also pokes them in the belly and tells them if they're only half full. They think it's fascinating that Daddy can tell if they're full or not. Beyond that, I have no suggestions. It's still a battle sometimes around here, too!


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