to try to break the mold re: fussy child

(86 Posts)
Heinz55 Thu 28-Mar-13 20:30:26

very good and lovely friends are coming to stay. We see them a few times a year even though we live 3/4 hours apart. Between us we have 5 kids. One of theirs is extremely attention seeking fussy. She will only eat a particular dinner (it used to be that her mother could be the only one to cook it) and when we give all 5 kids a treat (like a chocolate bar) she will come in whining that she doesn't like it (ditto homemade cakes or anything that is not straight forward chocolate - unless SHE has specifically asked for it beforehand) and her mother gets her something different. Because I am also cooking a separate dinner for 4 adults and trying to enjoy my friends company I usually just tailor everything to suit this child because it really grates that her mother (who will then be annoyed with her dd too) will start preparing a different dinner/treat/lunch for this particular child. ANYWAY...this feeding my children boring stodge is also grating now and I want to make say, fish cakes for all the dc next week instead. Am I setting myself up for a fall by doing this as most likely all dc will fall on the food until this one goes "I don't like it..." and then they all stop eating and wonder what potentially better option is going to be offered....AAAGH!! Not a big deal by any means but while I am so looking forward to seeing my friends this is all I can concentrate on (the having to cater to this "special" child) should I just let it go and make the stodge???? I'm hardly going to change her fussy-britchiness in one weekend, am I?? (BTW she's 10 and the eldest of the dc)

Have a look at your own thread title, OP!

Threads like this make me very sad and nervous about taking my DS to other people's houses when there's food involved.

I just hope my friends and relations wouldn't be so judgy and really hope they wouldn't think they could "cure" him of his "fussiness".

In his case it's sensory in origin, but the cause is really irrelevant.

It's only for the weekend, not your week in, week out problem.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:44:05

Break the mold as in serving something the child might not like Ellen, which she hasn't done before.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Thu 28-Mar-13 21:44:07

I think you could try to be kinder to the child too though, not just put up & shut up.

Sirzy Thu 28-Mar-13 21:44:08

So you know the mum gets stressed by it but you want to make an issue of it?

You are happy to cook separate meals for children and adults (something I never do!) so why not just cook a meal for the children that you know this child will eat? Is it really worth causing upset for the sake of a couple of days if you value the friendship as much as you say?

Heinz55 Thu 28-Mar-13 21:44:59

to break the mold regarding ME catering primarily to this child - not to change her personality in one w'end. Phew!!

HildaOgden Thu 28-Mar-13 21:50:32

You know what? Sometimes kids are just fussy /pandered to/spoiled.Not because of eating disorders,or any special need requirement...but because that's their personality trait.

Speak to the mum,*Heinz*,and see what she has to say.She'll be in a far better position to advise you on the best way to make mealtimes less stressful for everybody (including you) than anyone on here who has never even met the child,yet feel still seem to feel free to diagnose the child with an eating disorder.

BeautifulBlondePineapple Thu 28-Mar-13 21:57:55

I would be frustrated about this too OP. I regularly have friends and their kids round for dinner and it's a nightmare thinking of something that they will all eat. And that's with kids who are pretty good eaters!

It really sounds like this child has a major problem with food. Only eating 1 specific meal? Not eating things if the wrong person prepares it? Only eating certain kinds of chocolate? That is worrying at age 10.

I would make a meal of various options which include something this child will definitely eat. Most kids like bread of some kind so I usually try to make a meal that has bread as part of it so that the kids fill up on that if they don't like the rest of it (e.g. meatballs with couscous and pita bread is a fav, lasagne & garlic bread another(anything with garlic bread actually!), curry w. rice & naan bread, etc). Or how about you do a party table with sandwiches, mini sausages, sausage rolls, veg sticks, chicken legs or pizza etc AND the special child's particular favourite thing....? Then it's not so obvious that she's getting pandered to as it's a treat for them all. It's more work, but the kids would all probably love it.

Or chips. Surely even really super-fussy kids eat chips?!???

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 21:59:30

Hilda, I'm not saying she has an eating disorder. I don't know the child, so I don't know. Even if I did know her it might be very hard to tell.

What I am saying is that my friend DID have one and to my eternal shame we all were very lacking in understanding.

I am posting because I wish I had realised back then that this kind of thing can indicate food phobias and then we would all have been a lot kinder.

My friend has a lot of 'rules':

Won't eat 'safe' foods if placed on the same plate as other 'unsafe' foods

Literally eats no fruit

Will not eat any sauce

When we were younger I'm afraid we thought it was just fussiness, as did her mother I think. Her mother thought it might be multiple allergies at one stage iirc but tests didn't confirm that.

BeautifulBlondePineapple Thu 28-Mar-13 22:04:40

and FWIW, when we have friends to stay for the weekend we always cook different stuff for the kids dinner. Then we ship them off to bed/watch a movie so we can have a naice dinner and some adult time. I don't want to fork out for half a dozen kids to eat sea bass blimmin fillets!

Startail Thu 28-Mar-13 22:20:02

I spend my life apologising in advance for DD2 being just as you describe your visitor.

Believe me you won't change her in a weekend, she is far stubborner than you are.

In particular she likes chocolate, but not chocolate cake or chocolate sauce and she loathes chocolate ice cream (and would live in vanilla ice cream). This seems barking mad, attention seeking nonsense to adults, but perfectly logical to her.

If you think about it coco flavoured chocolate cake is actually quite bitter, it's nothing like a smooth sweet wonderful chocolate button.

Plenty of people like bananas, but don't like banana flavouring.

The less fuss you make the nicer time you will all have.

DD2 is 12, very very slowly she is beginning to realise why I find her such a pain and very gradually she is adding things to the allowed list. But she's an instinctive control freak, she real finds it difficult to try new things.
In any case she finds eating rather dull and would much rather go and play (which is why I think she can be so fussy, not eating has never bothered her, she only eats because she has to, she doesn't much like it).

Helpfully she likes curry and she's discovered swede isn't scary, if you'll eat pasties, then it's ok in stew.

Startail Thu 28-Mar-13 22:22:04

But I think she'll be a awkward until she cooks for herself

PicaK Thu 28-Mar-13 22:22:37

My child would not eat chips. Well perhaps, if they were of x variety, there were no burnt or small pieces on his plate, you had the right tomato sauce, you replenished every dent made in the sauce with more sauce and allowed about 40 mins for 10-15 chips....

That's mostly beside the point but gives some indication of how it can .

The thing is OP the more you describe this child the more the alarm bells ring - needs constant attention, some degree of lacking social awareness of how she is perceived. Is she fidgety? Does she lack concentration (TV excluded)? Of course I don't know this child, and the behaviour IS irritating but can you step back from feeling irritated this visit and look properly at this kid.

Something is not right here.

Sirzy Thu 28-Mar-13 22:24:26

Startail - I was very much like your daughter sounds when I was younger. Although I am still quite fussy with textures and things I now eat a much wider range of foods than I did when younger. I think the no fuss (or as little as possible) helps because your not being scared off foods by being made to eat them and given time you want to try new things (if that makes sense?)

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Thu 28-Mar-13 22:36:18

Startail - I was like your DD. from the age of about 12, I gradually added more and more things that I eat.

I still have my foibles - If someone dishes me up tinned spaghetti, I will happily eat it, but ONLY if it has been put in a separate bowl. And if it hasn't, then I can't eat anything it has touched and made soggy. I still can't get over that one. I still can't tolerate ANYTHING with coconut in, or liquorice / fennel / aniseed flavour in. Can't cope with 'fake' banana, strawberry or mint flavourings, but love the natural versions of them. Can't eat eggs except fried - and it was only 3 months ago, at 31, that I managed to start eating the yolks! blush

There's probably other fussinesses I haven't mentioned too - but it's a far cry from when I was younger and my diet consisted of plain pasta, plain rice and plain chicken and sod all else.

I have serious issues with food, but they are improving year on year. Certain textures and tastes, though, I will never be able to 'get over'

Pushing me as a DC would just have left me hungry, and whiny and grumpy because of hunger. I was hospitalised rather than eat mushrooms, for example, as a 10yo DC - my mother insisted on cooking 12 dinners in a row with mushrooms in, and if I didn't eat them, she would store it, and serve it for breakfast the next day, cold, and lunch, and then a different dinner including mushrooms that night.

It didn't make me eat mushrooms - it made me malnourished.

I finally started eating mushrooms at age 18, when I realised that for DD to not have issues with them, I had to eat them. In front of her. And look like I liked them. It wasn't until I was about 25 that I would CHOOSE to eat mushrooms. I love thm now!

But as a 10yo? I would sooner have starved (literally) than eat anything a mushroom had even touched.

I have Autistic traits and severe sensory issues. Food IS a problem for me, but I am working on it.

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 22:39:02

Couthy you sound very brave and determined! Impressed you have massively increased what you eat.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Fri 29-Mar-13 07:52:03

Startail\ Couthy

Sounds like one of my sons. Eats because he has to really. Sensory issues. I worked tirelessy and systematically to get him to try new foods - there are threads on the things I did. Used to dread mealtimes at other people, especially a relative who has her own, different food issues and would take any rejection of her food incredibly personally.

Badvoc Fri 29-Mar-13 08:03:19

Couthy...I have most of those issues you mention (except the egg thing) and I don't not consider that I have ishoos with food.
I think that there are some foods I do not like.
Why when children are the same so we automatically lab,e them as "fussy" or "special"?
I am neither, but I would vomit if I ate coconut.
Ditto fish and shellfish (although I am allergic to shellfish)
Ditto cheese and yoghurt.
It's not done to annoy people to make their lives hard Ffs.

WhoKnowsWhereTheChocolateGoes Fri 29-Mar-13 08:17:41

My DS is like it too, we decided long ago to back off and never force things, I'd rather mealtime were relaxed even if the food is not great because of his limitations. He won't eat potatoes in any form including chips, or sausages, fish fingers, eggs, chicken nuggets, roast dinners. He likes curries, pasta, pizza, spag bol, basically saucy foods rather than plain. It is embarrassing for him and me, he knows its a problem, I am very grateful to other adults who take his preferences into account. If I was your friend and saw this thread I don't think we would be visiting again, I'd just feel awful.

thegreylady Fri 29-Mar-13 08:20:58

When our 5 were younger if they didn't like a particular meal dh always said," There's bread,there's cheese and there are apples in the dish. " Those were the only options apart from the family meal. If anyone opted for that it was fine . I think your friend (not you) should try a similar strategy at home with one food the girl likes. For the visit you should just let it be and let your friend handle the children's meals (all of the children) . In the short term it won't harm your dc and will take away the exclusivity of the girl's attitude without pressuring her. With regard to chocolate I would say,"If you don't want it that's fine but there is no alternative except apples."

Tailtwister Fri 29-Mar-13 08:25:10

You're not going to make any difference to her eating habits in one weekend OP (as you've already acknowledged). If I were you I would speak to her mother beforehand and see what she wants to do. I second the idea of having a general meal with components in it which you know she will (or usually) eats. That way she can pick and choose what she wants, but you're not cooking her anything separate.

I can understand you wanting to help your friend so she has a nice relaxing weekend and your intentions are obviously good. Imo the best way to do that is to make a plan together beforehand, with a back-up plan just in case it all goes pear shaped.

mummytime Fri 29-Mar-13 08:27:50

Sorry YABU!!!

And not a very good friend. Your friends probably think of your home as one of the few places they can take this child, a sanctuary.

If they have other children who are not "fussy" then you cannot think her behaviour is the result of their parenting.

I strongly suspect that she (I think it is a girl for some reason) has an undiagnosed SN. However you could also be describing my middle child, who when young didn't eat Ice -cream, and now is vegetarian.

However what happens when the child isn't "pandered" to? Do you know? I would wonder if she has a melt down, or otherwise loses it.

If so you trying not to "pander" to her "fussiness" may ruin the weekend, at least for her parents if not everyone.

Dinkysmummy Fri 29-Mar-13 08:51:59

Wow, you say she is your good friend yet you come online bitching about her kid? It's true, you don't have to like her child, you are friends with her, but why make her stay uncomfortable by doing food you know full well the girl won't eat. It won't kill your kids to eat "stodge" for a short period of time.
If I was your friend and you purposely didnt cater for dd knowing she can be difficult I would be deeply offended and either leave, or end up feeling uncomfortable the entire visit.

I have a dd who was fussy from a baby with food. Everyone knew better than me and got covered in sick or had to listen to dd scream for ages while they forced her to eat food she didnt like.
My dd is now going to be assessed for autism spectrum disorder which can include sensory issues. My dd will only eat rubbery food, no sauce and chews toys which are made from rubber like materials.

This girl may or may not have an issue, but she will almost certainly have an issue comming to your house in the future and kick off at the mere prospect of going to your house again

Backinthebox Fri 29-Mar-13 08:56:19

I clicked on this thread because I thought someone was going to have some really clever ideas about fussy eaters and that I might get some useful advice. Instead I discover it's been posted by some rant-a-mum with perfect children who are going to be devastated they have to eat boring stodge and not the exotic fishcakes they were so looking forward to, all because she can't bear the fact that a friend of hers has a very difficult child. OP, do you really think the mother of this child - your so-called very good and lovely friend - is pleased with how her child eats, or so you not think she might actually be really, really frustrated? A lot more frustrated about it than you are, because she has to live with it and you have only got to deal with it when they visit.

I am really unsure as to how my children have ended up such fussy eaters when I am such an adventurous eater (the last dish I ordered in a restaurant was pig's trotter. It was delicious!) My daughter is just beginning to realise that lots of things taste nice if you give them a try, but comes out with bizarre things like 'I can't eat tomatoes, I'm scared of them.' My son, who is 2, is currently living on a diet of toast and milk. I have tried all sorts of food, all kinds of ways to get him to eat. As someone else pointed out, you know you are onto a loser when they turn down chocolate. Last week he was given a little bag of sweets at toddler group which included about 3 Mini Eggs. He tried one and gave the other 2 to me - what kind of a person doesn't like Mini Eggs?

If I were visiting you, I would be thinking 'fucking hell, I hope she doesn't go on again about my child's fussy eating!' Maybe if you tell her how you feel you could get out of dealing with the problem of what to cook by ensuring that she feels too uncomfortable to come to dinner?

Tailtwister Fri 29-Mar-13 09:06:23

What we do when we're having friends with children over is to do a sort of buffet type thing. I ask for a couple of 'sure things' which are included, have stuff like baguette/bread sticks, maybe little pizzas, cut up veg, quiche, dips (hummus and the like), some meats (ham, salami etc), just a mix. Everyone is so busy picking bits and pieces that if any of the children are fussy it's not noticed as much as if you served up a meal on a plate. The adults have some wine, a chat, the children just stay at the table for a reasonable time but we don't fuss too much.

That's what works for us. Occasionally people bring their own bits and pieces for their DC which is fine and just goes onto the table along with everything else.

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