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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)

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

mummytime Belgium 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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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?)

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.

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

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

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