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?

blondefriend Wed 06-Feb-13 21:15:25

Hyperthyroidism could definitely be it. I hope you do get some answers but, in my experience, blood sugar issues often become more stable as children get older whatever the reason so hopefully he will become more able to control it at school. If not talk to your pead about writing a care plan for the school and make sure they're trained in taking blood sugars. The school nurse can always keep some orange juice for him in emergencies. The teaching staff just need to know the symptoms they are looking for.

I will buy that book, sounds interesting thanks. Hope you get somewhere with his eating soon. TBH many 3 year olds are fussy eaters. If it's worrying you so much that you're getting stressed then just give him fish fingers and chips (it's not a bad meal really) followed by fruit and yogurt. Just let him enjoy his food for a bit and then try introducing new things again. If he's eating bigger meals, even if it's the same thing, then you can try and reduce the snacks so that his routine is more about eating meals then waiting for the next snack. Good luck. x

fizzykola Wed 06-Feb-13 10:27:06

Thank you for that blondefriend. We've had a diabetes test done last year when DS was peeing literally every 10 mins (negative). I don't know if that encompasses a test for insulin levels? I hadn't heard of hyperinsulinism. It sounds incredibly scary, and stressful for you. Tube feeding, bloody hell.

My DS is not as extreme as that, though I will mention it to the GP.

When we saw the GP again about it last week (ie the second time in his 4.5 years, I'm not some hypochondriac by proxy) after a particularly noticeable spell of highs and lows she was hesitant to get more bloods done, as the previous lot were negative (fair enough, it's not much fun for anyone), but decided we should as they hadn't tested the thyroid. So we'll see if that throws up anything.

In my heart I don't feel it is a serious (ie life threatening) condition, but of course it is my 'job' to get everything ruled out. He just doesn't have the energy levels of your average 4.5 year old, has always been like that. It's on my mind more at the moment - and so I've finally been to the GPs about it, adn I guess yelling at the dinner table - because he'll be starting school this year and I just can't see how he'll cope with it.

My sense is it's just a fast metabolism/greater sensitivity in his blood sugars. If he eats his dinner he's fine, if it's followed by a sweet treat he is literally bouncing off the walls. If he doesn't eat sometimes he just crashes/falls asleep in the bath or (more often) has an uncontrollable meltdown. He is very stubborn in character, which probably adds to it.

You sound like you have a really creative and effective approach to keeping your DS on track. A friend has a DS with Type 1 diabetes, and again, I take my hat off to you for dealing with it all, when food can be such an issue for some kids in the base case.

I found the French Children book really interesting. I lived in France for a couple of years in my youth, and it explained a lot about French adult behaviour, to see the approach to raising kids! They have got a lot of the food stuff sussed though, IMO.

CheerfulYank Tue 05-Feb-13 22:18:42

I liked the French parents book but didn't take it as gospel or anything. Still, it's always interesting to see what other cultures are like in regard to child rearing.

BertieBotts Tue 05-Feb-13 22:16:18

Try How To Talk instead. French Parents book isn't all that from what I've heard.

blondefriend Tue 05-Feb-13 21:50:32

Slightly off topic Fizzykola but what blood sugar issues does your son have? Going floppy sounds very worrying. My son has hyperinsulinism and low blood sugars can be very dangerous. Have your doctors done tests for insulin levels when low?

Anyway I really feel for you as I have been there. Of course you're BU to shout at your children for not eating but I've done it, especially when you're stressed over their eating. My ds also had feeding disorders and it is extremely stressful when you know they HAVE to eat. Many people just don't understand that there is a difference between a child not eating and being hungry and quiet afterwards and one that could suffer brain damage. I use the "if you don't eat it there's no pudding or snacks until next meal" but obviously that doesn't hold if you're worried that they will literally collapse.

Luckily my ds generally has a good appetite but he is fussy over new foods. I try to introduce new foods at lunch when I know he has had a good breakfast and will be able to have a good dinner before bed. I will give him half a plate of a "nice" food and half the new food so that he definitely gets something that will fend of the low BMs but won't fill him up so that he still wants to eat. It doesn't always work but it is an issue to all parents of children with his condition. In truth I am lucky that he is no longer tube fed.

I would always expect my children to sit at the table until the others at the table have finished. If it's a big social meal where the adults are taking time over their food and wine then they can get down after a reasonable amount of time. If we're in a restaurant then they sit with crayons or a book. Surely this is manners not "breeding eating disorders". My ds can't talk but even he has to indicate in some way if he wishes to get down and we will allow or deny depending on the circumstances.

fizzykola Tue 05-Feb-13 19:46:10

Much better tonight. We explained the new rules earlier (have to at least try a bit, need to wait till everyone's finished eating before getting down. Also - and I'm sure there will be criticism of this smile - we will 'help' DS with the first three mouthfuls. It's just what it takes to get him started sometimes, especially when he's run out of energy).

Although there was lots of playing the fool at the table as usual he did eat some himself, we didn't cajole and they did both stay until others had finished.

And I felt much less stressed. Just blew my top yesterday. I'm not proud of it, but guess it happens, just need to control my reaction to provocation! Seems like the key to it.

I'm big on boundaries too - I never offer alternative to meals, and they do understand and accept that they only get yogurt or fruit after if they've given the main meal a fair go etc etc

I think it's just kids natures too. DS is the sort if you give him an inch he'd take a mile. But DD would just take an inch.

Our mealtimes are pretty inconsistent in terms of behaviour (chimps tea party sometimes), but we're aiming for civilised (me included.... blush).

All this has reminded me of a book I read a while ago, the French Children Don't Throw Food one. Might get it back from my pal and give it another go.

DS was like this and we ended up just giving him what he would eat. The nightly stress of dinner time was no good for either of us and made anything to do with food a huge issue.

So give them what they will eat or just dish up, go into another room and if they get down remove the food and give it to them for their next meal.

CheerfulYank Tue 05-Feb-13 18:11:55

I live there too AliBaba smile

sarahtigh Tue 05-Feb-13 16:05:55

i agree with Amanda healthy dose of common sense and children do not know what is best for them if DD did what she wanted she would wear just pants and wellies in the snow, have crisps and chocolate for breakfast, would have either calpol 6 times a day when well and refuse medicine when illl some days she would be up at 4am, other days she woukld want to sleep at 5pm

all children need to learn what is good for them and how to behave that is why they need parents they do not automatically know when they need sleep what is the best food to eat, that hitting actually hurts people, that you need to share take turns etc,

Well there's at least 2 of us in your universe!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 05-Feb-13 14:51:44

Amanda - yes precisely.

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a parallel world to most of MN, one where I expect manners from my children now when they are 4 and 1, and when they are teenagers.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 05-Feb-13 14:49:10

Freeze it when? After it has been poked around the plate for 10 minutes, maybe licked? A choice morsel or two perhaps sampled and spat out again? grin

Seriously - I am not a restaurant. And I think it is important that children learn to sit and eat a meal in a civilised manner - not think that they can do exactly what they please.

What do you do when you go out for a meal, or to someone else's house?

Yes! What she said again! grin

AmandaPayne Tue 05-Feb-13 14:38:41

Oh, and just to add, I don't force them to clear their plate. It's more a question of how the meal is eaten rather than the specific quantity consumed.

If DD1 (nearly 4) has eaten nicely and sat politely, then even if she has only eaten a relatively small quantity and is full, that is fine and pudding will still be offered. It is the moaning, pushing it around the plate, sitting and prodding it, and then not eating which results in pudding not being offered.

CheerfulYank Tue 05-Feb-13 14:27:52

Exactly what Amanda said.

MrsMushroom I didn't mean that eating out of boredom is good if you're not hungry. smile But if the child hasn't eaten anything, he/she probably is hungry. So if they need to stay and make polite conversation (which is just good manners IMO) they may try a few bites, whereas if they are allowed to refuse and go play, they won't.

Honestly if someone wants to give their child a sandwich and fruit every night, well, whatever. It's better than a bag of crisp certainly. But if someone wants their child to try their dinner that is also fine, and what I'd do. If it's not a hated food and the dc doesn't have real food issues, they should eat what there is.

What Amanda said!

It's not just about the food...it's about understanding the importance of eating together, trying new things, being polite when someone has made the effort to cook for you.

I can't help but think that the sandwich approach makes children's lives harder in the long run. You may not be offended, but their friends parents may well be and your dc won't understand why. Lots of difficult social situations in the future I think. isn't it our job to teach them this stuff?

I'm not pretending I've got it all right, but family dinners do matter. I agree you can go too far the other way and end up with food phobic children, but that doesn't mean they have to get what they want every time.

AmandaPayne Tue 05-Feb-13 13:44:03

I am with Alibaba. That food may be healthy, but i am not a restaurant. Just as my children have to do chores, can't always watch the tv programme they want, they can't always have their most favourite foods. It's part of living as a family. Yes, I will avoid serving hated foods, but not just offer alternatives to every whim they have.

And not all food can be frozen. Even leaving aside why I should have to do so.

MrsMushroom Tue 05-Feb-13 13:41:40

Er....yes. Is that your comment?

Seriously? That's your argument?

MrsMushroom Tue 05-Feb-13 13:34:27

Well what's wrong with that kind of food? confused It's healthy....if you don't want to chuck the portion away, then freeze it.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 05-Feb-13 13:10:04

MrsMushroom - the point stands though. DS1 loves that kind of food and would hold out for it nearly every night if he knew it would be on offer later.

Everything else aside - I can't afford to chuck a portion of food away every night, can you?

2rebecca Tue 05-Feb-13 13:07:45

To me witholding pudding if you don't eat your main course isn't teaching a kid that pudding is nicer, it's teaching them that if you say you have finished your meal and don't want to eat any more then that shouldn't alter if there is pudding. If you're full you're full.
I often struggle to eat 2 courses though so think if a pudding is to be offered it's unfair to stuff people so full with a savoury course they can't enjoy it.
I've never given extra meals after the evening meal, my grandparents did a before bedtime supper but to me it's unnecessary, and I agree it may make a child less inclined to eat its dinner if it knows something is following soon after.
We do have fruit you can eat whenever though but generally I think it's good to encourage people to eat a varied diet.

kimorama Tue 05-Feb-13 13:03:22

please dont withdraw priviLges over food

AmandaPayne Tue 05-Feb-13 12:59:59

We withhold pudding if the main course isn't eaten.

I have heard all the theory that withholding pudding implies it is nicer. But quite frankly, DD1 would live on fruit/pudding if she could. If she knew she could fill up on fruit, she would have little incentive to eat her main course. Offering something like toast, soup or a sandwich later would make it even worse. We'd end up with a dinner of fruit at the table and a sandwich later.

So in our case what seems to work is dinner is taken away if not eaten, but there then isn't anything else until the next meal. Goes to show that they are all different I guess.

My aunt did the whole 'oh, no, pudding is not a reward' thing. Every family gathering is special meals for all three of her (now teenage) children before they tuck into masses of sweet food. I'm not sure that that's better than treating sweet food as a treat. It is in some ways a treat - we try to teach DD's that sweet food is only for the nice taste, not filling tummies, whereas savoury is for both.

Bit of a sidetrack. TBH, I am sometimes amazed by the amount of fussiness which is accepted as normal by a lot of people on MN - and here I am talking about older children and adults, not the little ones. Everyone can have two or three things they dislike, but it's just not acceptable to me for my family members to have lists as long as your arm of things that they do and don't eat (allergies, vegetarian, etc obviously different). So I'll accept a couple of things, but other than that it's a case of eat it, or don't eat it, but I'm not a restaurant.

Alibaba I'm with you on this...if they know they're going to get a sandwich or something in an hour where on earth is the incentive to eat a proper dinner with the rest of the family? And it's about that too, not just about getting nutrition into them - socialising, teaching them the importance of family meals . How will they be able to go to someone else s house and eat politely?
When DD makes a fuss over dinner it's the fuss that is the problem, not the amount she eats. If she's only going to eat 3 bites I'd rather she just did that happily while we talk about our day, not spoil the mealtime with negotiations . And NOT bugger off from the table to wait for a sandwich.
If mealtimes are spoilt I would and have removed tv.

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