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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)

Lollydaydream Fri 29-Mar-13 09:37:19

There was a fascinating programme on last night (horizon?) on how we taste. Some people have alot more taste buds on their tongues and it was alot more and of course they taste things in a very different way. That's before you take into account issues of texture and control around food. It is vastly complicated. I don't really have an answer to the op but found this all so interesting and relevant. to how we think about children's eating.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 09:51:11

That's interesting, Lolly - maybe that's part of what we call 'sensory' issues - maybe to some people certain foods taste horribly strong.

The connection with SN is very interesting. My friend seems NT to my very untutored eyes, but has said before to us all that she thinks her siblings may have undx ASD.

megandraper Fri 29-Mar-13 09:52:31

I had a very fussy eater. I could tell other people were annoyed with him.

It turned out to be due to a medical problem (coeliac). Since diagnosis he has become a pretty good eater.

I wouldn't force anyone else's child to eat food they didn't want. It's just nasty. Fine to let the mum provide the alternative option for that child (I have to do this all the time now that DS is gluten-free). But don't attach any judgement (especially unspoken judgement that is harder for her to challenge!) to it.

Welove, that's very interesting. Girls with Aspergers or ASD quite often have associated eating disorders. High functioning girls present very differently to boys, they can often have much better social skills but can feel out of control of their own lives. Controlling what food they eat and having sensory issues around food is really common. With siblings with ASD traits, it sounds quite likely that your friend could be exhibiting some ASD traits herself.

Obviously, in her case that might be bollocks, but, still...

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 12:25:06

Really interesting, Ellen.

What I am taking away from this whole debate is that with seriously fussy children, like the one in the op and my friend is that I guess we will never know why the individual child is like that, so as host//friend in future I am going to focus on doing whatever accommodates the child, makes the parents feel welcome and that their child is accepted.

Ie I am going to do what I didn't do before I realised my friend really wasn't just being capricious. She has had a tough time - including as a teen people (not me or our friends) throwing the food she is terrified of at her and laughing when she ran away etc etc sad

I particularly didn't comment on this with regard to the girl in the OP, as we obviously have no idea about her and shouldn't jump to conclusions, but it instantly struck me that there might be more to her 'fussiness' than meets the eye and the term 'special' in inverted commas was entirely inappropriate.

I'm sure you have more than made up for any teenage lack of empathy, Welove smile Your posts on here are testimony to that.

TheNebulousBoojum Fri 29-Mar-13 14:09:40

DS has Asperger's. Which is why we used to only visit the houses of friends.
We also used to take a packed lunchbox to avoid any possible host stressing.
His life is so much less complicated now he's a teenager, he doesn't have to put up with adults getting their knickers in a twist, and his mates don't care what he eats.
And no, he's never coped with chips, or MaccyD or curry. It would have been quite useful on occasion.
Let the mum sort her DD's food out OP, and if you really are her friend, you won't judge.

My ds is the opposite. He has adult tastes. The few times we have stayed with relatives they have complained that he won't just eat peanut butter sandwiches but devours the smoked salmon and olives.

The complain he is expensive to feed. I think they would far prefer someone who will be satisfied with a tin of rice pudding.

FannyBazaar Sun 31-Mar-13 21:51:23

I have a friend with a fussy DS. It used to stress me about the fussiness especially because my DS would copy the fussiness and expect his own separate meal too. When this child came round I did try to accommodate his fussiness within the realms of what I already had in the house and have since made a point that I will not go out and buy anything special. The fussy DS was bought up with ready meals and things from packets and jars, so although happy to eat pasta in tomato sauce, was concerned that homemade sauce was not going to be suitable. He would come into the kitchen and get worried that it had onions in.

When I serve up meals with other kids around I tend to put everything separate in serving dishes so if it is pasta and sauce, those who don't like the sauce can have plain pasta. Boring, but their choice.

I often do a meal of lots of different things on a platter or little plates for kids to chose, no one has to eat everything and even the fussiest find something they will eat.

If fussy child hands me back a chocolate bar, biscuit, muffin etc and says he don't like it, I say 'fine, just leave it', no further reaction and no offer of an alternative. If hungry and not getting a reaction, the fussy kids often come back to the rejected food.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 07-Apr-13 22:15:29

Gosh. DS2 has a friend who panics about food. He is 6. He quite seriously said to me that he is frightened of strawberries. I wouldn't dream of trying to make him eat something he doesn't like; it's not my place. When he first started coming to play I asked his mum and she said he should be OK with a cheese roll, but it turns out he can only cope with his mum's sort of cheese roll and not ours. He will drink milk and he will eat custard creams. So when he comes for tea I give him a glass of milk, a cheese roll (on the off chance he might decide he fancies it after all) and 2-3 custard creams. And when his mum picks him up I make sure she knows he only ate biscuits so that he can feed him something else if he's hungry or she is worried by the lack of nutrients. This little boy is very, very sweet, and very literal. I once said "What's your mum up to this afternoon, X?" and he looked confused and said "We don't know, we can't see her!". I don't know the mum well enough to ask, and the info has never been volunteered, but I am thinking he may have some form of autism or aspergers. Isn't it possible the child in the original post may have a similar issue (and perhaps the parents have not wanted to discuss it with the poster) and what is being construed as 'spoilt little miss syndrome' is actually a condition?

Devora Sun 07-Apr-13 22:33:26

I was a very fussy eater as a child, back in the days when nobody pandered to such nonsense. I wouldn't eat meat or vegetables, and spent many afternoons staring into a cold plate of liver and cabbage when all the other kids were back in class. I spent a week in hospital and didn't eat all week (they didn't cater to vegetarians in hospitals then - hard to believe now). At home I would just get bread and apples as an alternative, so that is what I lived on. I was always tired and pale and had started a 20 year battle with anorexia at the age of 12.

I'm now the mother of a super-fussy eater, and it makes me hot with shame. So many people are impatient with it and openly critical of my parenting. My eating problems - and my daughter's - are my job to deal with. All I ask of others is that they don't make a big deal of it. Don't pander to my child, don't make me feel guilty and ashamed: she can either eat what you serve or go hungry. Up to her if you offer her bread or not. But getting irritated and stressed by it (which will nearly always be picked up on) is giving a child too much power in the realm of food issues, which is incredibly unhelpful.

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