to withdraw privileges for not eating dinner....?

(76 Posts)
fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 18:10:18 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?

nocake Mon 04-Feb-13 18:17:10

We have a toddler who eats a very limited range of foods (always has) and often won't eat anything at a meal. The best advice I can give is to stop making meal times a battle ground. Offer the food you've decided on and nothing else. Don't make pudding conditional on eating their main course but don't offer anything extra because you think they might be hungry. Offer normal snacks between meals but only at the times you would if they had eaten normally. Don't provide extra snacks if they haven't eaten.

Do not bribe, persuade, coerce or try and convince them to eat. Let them decide if they want the food.

nocake Mon 04-Feb-13 18:17:50

I should add... it takes time and effort to stop taking it personally.

MrsMushroom Mon 04-Feb-13 18:22:17


Don't you ever not feel like your dinner? Children are excellent self-regulators and don't need force feeding. You will create food issues if you lose your temper or remove privileges.

Just take it away! If they come saying they're hungry in an hour offer fruit or a sandwich. It's not a big deal.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:24:02

I don't know but DS goes through phases of this too and he is also sensitive to blood sugar changes. I don't want to make mealtimes a battle, but don't want to leave him hungry either because his behaviour becomes absolutely unmanageable.

One thing which has helped is giving him a meal in very small parts, e.g. half a sausage, then some veg, then a potato or two, the other half of the sausage, some more veg etc. Don't give him more until he's finished the first part but because it's a small portion it seems manageable.

Also picking battles and going with a very limited number of meals or even unconventional meals as long as the balance is pretty much there - if he goes off cooked veg you can always make up with fruit snacks at other times or things like cucumber etc with lunch. Sometimes he eats ham on bread for breakfast etc.

I'll be back after bedtime smile

amicissimma Mon 04-Feb-13 18:26:59

What nocake said.

I find it staggering how little food some small children seem to survive on, but we don't hear of children starving to death, in homes where food is available, on a regular basis.

Offer food, remove if/when lack of interest occurs. Clear table.

You might as well learn to remain calm in the face of intense provocation now, as it's a skill you will need by the bucketful when you have teenagers!

Good luck. This phase will pass.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:34:08

Oh ok... he decided he needed the toilet instead grin

Look at the balance of foods over a whole day rather than a meal. If his blood sugar dips, try to concentrate on protein and complex carbs rather than sugary foods (which includes fruit) and simple carbs (white bread, white pasta, possibly potato?)

Don't stress yourself out trying to get him to eat new foods, stick to what he likes, once you're in a good routine of him eating, then you can think about trying new foods as you know he won't be hungry if he rejects them (Or my other excellent technique which is to make your own food between his dinner and bed time, so he's not hungry - maybe about one time in four, DS will come up looking interested and ask to have a try, and sometimes he even likes it.)

Offer a boring but not usually rejected snack before bed, like toast.

Don't take it personally! Don't give him stuff you've lovingly created, unless you know he likes it. Always offer back up toast.

fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 18:35:10

Thanks for the replies. Bertiebotts has nailed it. I am much less bothered by 3 year old's disinterest as I know she will not be flopping around/going loco from not eating. It's much easier to relax about if you feel they CAN regulate themselves.

It's because he is like that it is so hard to manage. Hat off (even higher) to parents of diabetic children for managing their meals.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:35:49

Hmm the problem is though if you have a child who is sensitive to blood sugar dips, their behaviour becomes utterly irrational and impossible to deal with when they do get hungry, and then it's even harder to get any food into them even later. The secret is managing the hunger but not allowing them to think they're in control grin

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:36:07


KitchenandJumble Mon 04-Feb-13 18:37:07

I agree with nocake. (Fantastic username/post combination, BTW! grin)

Young children control very little in their lives. Sometimes they discover that food is a way to gain control, and they will seize the opportunity. Don't turn it into a power game. Remove the emotion from mealtimes as much as possible. Don't cajole or bribe, just offer what's for dinner and move on. What they eat and how much they eat is up to the children. Precluding any unusual circumstances, they really will eat as much as they need to.

Good luck.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:38:56

I have to feel a little bit of guilt TBH because given a chance I'm like this too - skip meals because I don't feel like eating and then flop about and get the shakes because I'm hungry hmm I try not to be like this around DS but it's obviously rubbed off - or maybe it's genetic??

I find (for me) that buying food I'm really tempted to eat helps me remember to eat. So I've tried that with DS too - I always get cereal he likes, spread that he likes on toast, we go through phases of ham for breakfast, substituting crackers or croissants or wraps for bread for lunch etc.

StinkyWicket Mon 04-Feb-13 18:40:46

It is annoying isn't it? I reserve my own meltdowns for when my 4 year olds poo their pants because they're too lazy to get up <<screams in frustration>> grin

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:41:43

And ketchup - ketchup on everything.

TheMaskedHorror Mon 04-Feb-13 18:43:13

What time do they have dinner? Are they too tired? Could they have their dinner earlier?
Mine used to be too tired to eat by 6 sometimes so I now give them dinner at 5-5.30 and then a snack before bed.

I don't blame you for going crazy. I regularly do this if mine don't eat. I'm not sure about self regulation but if mine don't eat properly, they're coming down at 10-11pm saying they're hungry!

skullcandy Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:07

what the others have said.. DO NOT turn mealtimes into a battle ground. try and persuade them with a bit of bribery, but dont get emotional, if they still refuse, just remove it, dont offer an immediate alternative.

if it can reheated, offer it later if they complain they're hungry, if it cant, then by all means offer something else, but toast or cereal or something similar, nothing exciting!

my ds is food phobic, we had SO many battles, but taking the stress out of it makes it much easier, he cant use it as a control to upset me!

Getting mad, making children eat things they don't want, and turning meals into a battle ground is a guaranteed way of giving children an eating disorder. I'm not trying to be rude, but I speak as someone who grew up in a house where this happened. Both my sister and I developed eating disorders, which lasted until we left home. Once away from our parents we both were fine.

If they won't eat it, just take it away and don't give them anything later. They'll eat the next meal. The odd floppy scenario is far better than the alternative - a child that becomes scared of meals, and scared of you.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:28

YY dinner needs to be at least 2 hours before bedtime in my experience. Hence offering snack before bed too smile

piprabbit Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:58

My DS is irrationally fussy (the hate foods vary from day to day) and he s completely uninterested in food. We went down the route of serving him the same food as the rest of us, but making sure that we always included something he would eat. So every meal came with a side order of sweetcorn or orange pepper or raisins. That way at least a little food would be eaten which helped break the cycle of not eating>no energy>too tired to eat>not eating etc.

piprabbit Mon 04-Feb-13 18:46:50

Stinky DS also experiments with "Saving Poo" ie. leaving it too late to get to the toilet in time.

NopeStillNothing Mon 04-Feb-13 18:50:06

I was ready to come on here and say yadbu OP but having read the details I'm starting to feel for you. It is not in your best interests to turn dinnertime into a battle and it wasn't the right way to handle it but still, I completely understand your frustration. Not very helpful I know, here have a wine

ukatlast Mon 04-Feb-13 18:50:42

YABU and possibly cruel - at that age you have to serve what you know they will eat with new stuff as an added extra...they get there in the end. I wouldn't fancy a fry up of yesterday's leftovers either I don't think.

Don't make an issue out of is not worth it. There's nothing wrong with fishfingers and oven chips with some steamed veg alongside etc etc

Flobbadobs Mon 04-Feb-13 18:52:21

Whatever you do don't let mealtimes and food in general become a battle ground, that way madness (yours) lies!
Pick your battles wisely. YABU this time, food is not something to make an issue of unless you are a glutton for punishment!

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:58:07

From the OP I don't think this is a regular occurrence, more a one off. I think it would be unreasonable to impose regular punishment for not eating, but as an end-of-tether desperate outburst I can understand how it happens.

MrsMushroom Mon 04-Feb-13 19:19:37

I can't. I also can't see how a child is "sensitive" to blood sugar lows...unless the Dr told you that? ALL children are sensitive to that. Which is why a healthy snack offered later is a good idea.

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 19:36:51

I would take all emotion out of it. At the moment they are getting a lot of attention.
Serve the meal. They either eat it or don't eat it. If they don't eat it-take it away without comment. Don't comment if they do eat it. Serve pudding the same. Do not serve snacks or alternatives. If they say they are hungry say in a bored, mildly surprised voice 'well you would-you didn't eat dinner'. They won't starve.

Yfronts Mon 04-Feb-13 19:53:22

No, you need to take stock and stay calm.
Stop the snacking in between meals.
Or give them much much much smaller snacks two hours before a meal.
Also stop the negative attention/punishments for not eating.
Chat about every bodies day and enjoy their company whilst eating.
Keep everyone at the table for social reasons.
Don't pass comment on the food intake or make food a battleground.
If they don't eat say 'it's fine, your dinner will be here if you feel hungry later'
Don't offer alternatives but do point them in the direction of the left meal if they are hungry later.

Yfronts Mon 04-Feb-13 19:54:54

ps - children generally eat as much as they need.

2rebecca Mon 04-Feb-13 19:56:26

I agree with exotic fruits. We also have a "you don't get down from the table until everyone has finished" rule which means they can't go and do something more interesting (which means you finish your dinner without wondering what they are up to) and learn to sit at the table for more than 5 minutes. They usually eat more whilst hanging around waiting. Also no alternative food if they don't eat their dinner. No emotional blackmail re eating dinner, the adults make positive comments about their food and get on with eating it.

Imsosorryalan Mon 04-Feb-13 20:08:29

This post came at the right time for me! Again, dd1 has been refusing to eat dinner. Normally, I don't make an issue and just give her pudding. However, I'm finding now she is deliberately not eating a reasonable amount of dinner and just wanting her pudding!
She has a very sweet tooth. Should I stop pudding altogether?
<sorry to hijack your thread op;)>

skullcandy Mon 04-Feb-13 21:03:33

i would stop offering pudding, separate it from the meal time by 30 mins or so or something.

fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 21:13:16

Ok, thanks folks. Quite a range of advice from: I am being cruel and potentially giving my children eating disorders to I serve manky fried chicken to helpful practical suggestions and even empathy. Oh, and serving up fish fingers EVERY night is ok?!

Guess that what happens when you post here! Cool.

Some great advice, I'll definitely aim to stop focusing on it, have us all sit at the table till adults are finished, offer dinner in smaller portions and include something he likes in each meal.

I will attempt to not take it personally (love the teenager comment amicissimme ! I'm sure you're so right).

And MrsMushroom, yes I do always want to eat my dinner for I am a greedy stuffer.....and yes a GP, paediatrician and nutritionist have confirmed to me that some children/people do just have more sensitive blood sugar levels.

I'm not one for namby-pambying children or looking for issues that aren't there, but when the nursery staff, extended family and many friends all point out DS's extreme energy spikes and dips I'd be doing a pretty crap job as a parent NOT to try to address it. Non?

TeWiSavesTheDay Mon 04-Feb-13 21:20:23

People talk such bollocks about food and fussiness, ignore them.

I find it extremely annoying too, and have been trying to do the at least one thing they like technique.

I also try and serve at least two meals a day that they definitely will eat. This means that currently breakfast is very big and lunch is very limited but no one is going to bed hungry if they don't eat their dinner.

Twattybollocks Mon 04-Feb-13 21:21:45

Yabu to punish for not eating. I have 2 picky eaters and I feel your pain but it won't help you in the long run. My tactics are these. First, offer at least one thing on the plate that you know they will eat. Second, do very small portions so they aren't outfaced. Third, never ask for a clean plate, only that they have a good attempt. Fourth, if they are refusing to try something, ask them to have just one mouthful, and if they don't like it, they don't have to eat it.
If they mess about with their food, give it 15 minutes and remove plates. It's then tough titty if they are hungry, offer fruit only until the next meal.
Re the getting up from the table, that's a separate issue to tackle, I would be using the naughty step or similar to enforce sitting at the table politely and nicely.

Mumsyblouse Mon 04-Feb-13 21:30:15

I found serving the food in dishes and just leaving them to help themselves worked very well to avoid food battles.

I get what you are saying about the blood sugar, except you've taken your child to three different medical professionals and they are all saying they are fine, so ultimately a bit of a flop here and there is nothing, and may be part of his/her personality (extreme activity then flopping). I think your concern about blood sugar is letting them lead you a merry dance, and it's better to reestablish a calm uninterested exterior, otherwise this could go on for years. That's not to say they don't have up and down blood sugar, but it can't be that extreme, and you stand more chance of getting what you want if you downplay any such thing, show a lack of interest in what is eaten, and stick to your guns (so what isn't eaten is re-presented later, or they are given a choice but no pudding til eaten or whatever).

2rebecca Mon 04-Feb-13 21:31:52

We don't always have pudding and when the kids were young if there was pudding I often wouldn't mention it until main courses were finished and not put out spoons, although if serving pudding I did smaller main courses so they weren't too full for pudding. No pudding unless dinner finished (unless something new they haven't liked) was always a rule.
I'm amazed at the number of families who regularly have 2 course meals.

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:18:54

Withholding puddings gives the idea that they are nicer!
Serving food in bowls and helping themselves is a good idea- it makes them feel they have some control.

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:22:18

It is far more difficult when they are your DCs because they pick up on body language and they know that, whatever you say, you are very anxious about it. If they came to me they are more likely to eat because they would tell that I have done my bit by serving it and I'm really not bothered if they leave it or if they are hungry- that is the difference!

xamillion Mon 04-Feb-13 22:27:22

You don't need pudding every day surely?

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:45:06

I like pudding everyday! Generally yoghurt or fruit.

SirIronBottom Tue 05-Feb-13 02:17:06

I don't have any experience of this but all I can say is that I used to live with a friend who had regular battles with her DF as a kid over food - and now she is the second-fussiest eater I know (the most fussy being my MIL).

CheerfulYank Tue 05-Feb-13 03:09:34

I think there are some kids who really will not eat much...they will make themselves sick first. And in that instance I'd say feed them whatever they will eat.

But a lot of kids are picky because they are allowed to niece and nephew for example. EVERY family gathering turns into a monologue from their mother on what they will or won't eat, how they are soooo picky, etc. She's been bringing chicken fingers and yogurt tubes everywhere since they started solids, they've never had a chance to eat normally. Arrgh! OK, sorry.

Anyhoo, of course you are not being cruel, you just lost it. It happens. I'd go with the good advice here...serve small portions, with something alongside that they will eat.(Tonight we had pork chops with peas and rice, which DS was unsure about, and strawberries, which he loves. So he ate the berries first and asked for more. We just said 'in a few minutes, eat a few bites of your other things first." He ended up with seconds on everything so it worked out smile )

Keeping them at the table til everyone finishes is a good one - it's just polite, and also they may eat out of boredom. Forcing, bribing, or making a big fuss is not a good idea.

Good luck! Can be sooo frustrating, can't it?

Morloth Tue 05-Feb-13 03:16:16

It is my job to provide my kids with healthy nutritious food in appropriate amounts.

I do so, what they put in their mouths is their business.

No battles, no struggles for control.

So you cook dinner, you place it in front of them and just let them do their thing. Just try not to worry about it. Barring any SNs they will eat when they get hungry enough.

HollyBerryBush Tue 05-Feb-13 06:43:16

Not everyone, children included like massive meals.

Children, IMHO should be fed and watered like horses, little and often. Smaller meals, more frequently.

themaltesecat Tue 05-Feb-13 07:07:06

No advice, just sympathy. My toddler barely sees to eat anything some days, but remains as delightfully well-rounded as ever. They do seem to know how much they need. Heart-breaking when salmon and lovingly steamed veggies are rejected in favour of those awful little wrapped cheeses and minuscule portions of bread and butter, but the ungrateful little bastards seem to flourish nonetheless.

BlackholesAndRevelations Tue 05-Feb-13 08:43:01

My sixteen month old regularly only has about three mouthfuls of his dinner before deciding that's enough. It doesn't worry me but seems to worry/annoy (?) my childminder.

Twattybollocks Tue 05-Feb-13 11:56:47

And yes, they seem to grow up fine regardless. My younger sister survived on a diet of chicken in plum sauce and rice, pizza and Spag Bol until she was about 11, she grew up just fine. It is incredibly frustrating, especially when the amount eaten seems to be inversely proportional to how long it took to make!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 05-Feb-13 12:09:38

OP I do feel for you. DS1 goes through phases like this and I do worry about him - although most of the time he self-regulates very well.

It is all very well to say 'take it away if they don't eat it and offer a sandwich later'. If I did that then some weeks he would only eat sandwiches, because he would know it was coming later if he just sat tight long enough - and he would never try anything new.

MrsMushroom Tue 05-Feb-13 12:17:44

Well you don't only offer sandwiches offer fruit, vegetables cut up with some peanut butter, yogurt or soup etc.

Small children don't need massive hot meals ALL the long as they have a good varied diet....even 4 year old survived on cucumber and bread for a week once...she was fine and still is.

MrsMushroom Tue 05-Feb-13 12:19:11

Yank eating out of boredom because you are trapped at the table is NOT a good thing.

Lueji Tue 05-Feb-13 12:41:29

Yes, definitely some good advice there.
Some great advice, I'll definitely aim to stop focusing on it, have us all sit at the table till adults are finished, offer dinner in smaller portions and include something he likes in each meal.

There are many strategies to get toddlers and older children to eat.
Make it a competition.
Share food between you.
"Let" them steal food from you.
Even have a reward chart for eating.

I even let DS eat something before dinner (he's a good eater, BTW), as being too tired and with low sugar levels, can cause eating problems too.

But mostly, make table time a fun and enjoyable activity. smile

BTW, one BIL once suggested that I hit DS for not eating his soup. I wanted to throttle him myself just for that. angry

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.

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.

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

please dont withdraw priviLges over food

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.

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?

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.

Seriously? That's your argument?

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

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

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.

What Amanda said!

It's not just about the'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.

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.

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.

Yes! What she said again! grin

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?

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.

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

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,

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

I live there too AliBaba smile

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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