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)

HildaOgden Thu 28-Mar-13 20:37:52

I think I'd discuss it with the Mum this week (before they arrive).If you are good friends...and she herself gets annoyed at the 'fussy' one...I'd bring it up in a tactful way.Mention that you're getting the shopping list sorted,and wondering what to do about her dd.Tell her your own kids are starting to kick up about the dinners when she comes,and can she think of a way around it??

Alternatively,you could try explaining to your kids that her dd is being a PITA,and that they will just have to humour her they are so much more 'mature' than her (even though she's older).

I understand how it irks you,it does seem like she is being spoiled,for whatever reason.

You aren't going to change it in one weekend. Especially as the DM sounds like she indulges it. Can you do fish cakes with boring stodge and she can just eat eat that?

Sirzy Thu 28-Mar-13 20:41:45

Its not up to you to tackle the problem its up to her family.

However you could send her an email saying you are cooking the same meals for everyone and what you are planning on doing - ask her if that is ok with the majority and then she can always prepare for the fussy child herself.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Thu 28-Mar-13 20:42:59

Not your place to change someone else's child, however annoying the behaviour might be.

Cook what you want and offer sarnies for the fussy one, or let mum deal with it.

When I cooked for lots of kids I used to do a load of bits and let them pick what they wanted. Why make your weekend more stressful than it needs to be by going to battle with someone else's kid?

TeggieCampbeggBlegg Thu 28-Mar-13 20:50:11

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

I would do what you want and just do plain buttered pasta as the carbs part of the meal. Don't sweat it - you'll face enough challenges parenting your own kids without trying to 'fix' anyone else's

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 28-Mar-13 20:53:13

You don't have to live with this child, and it doesn't sound like you have thought about the reasons behind the fussiness. It really isn't much skin off your nose so i would just try and be a good host.

Mumsyblouse Thu 28-Mar-13 20:54:23

You won't break it at all but it is up to you if you don't want to cook two meals, so I might let the mum deal with it. We have friends whose child has never eaten anything I cook ever, he eats bread and jam instead but I don't fuss over it, it's mortifying enough for his mum and I just let them get on with preparing something different.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 20:55:42

There is a fine line between giving your guests what you think/know they'd like and everyone having to pander to the food thing the girl's got going on.

For a 4/5 YO who's going through a stage of trying it on and only eating one thing, then maybe, but a 10 YO should have learnt a few manners to not make a fuss and get on with it.

I feel sorry for her mum who obviously would have sorted it if she knew how to, it must be awful to know it's coming and want to come and visit but know this must grate on you.

Just give everyone what you want to cook and let her mum sort her out, if she gives her something different then that's her business, just look away and try to keep the steam from coming out of your ears grin

OhDearieDearieMe Thu 28-Mar-13 20:57:13

Rather rude Teggie don't you think? What's with the reaction? Special is a word you know. You don't own it. HTH.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 28-Mar-13 20:57:25

Good post agent

Now i have calmed down a bit I agree.

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 20:58:24

My school friend was like this as a child. As an adult she has had hours of therapy for her food phobias which include a fear of lemons. It makes it very hard for her to travel and go out for meals, so she has tried really hard to work on this.

As kids everyone used to say she was just applied. Now she has been treated in an eating disorder clinic I realise there was a lot more to it blush

SnotMeReally Thu 28-Mar-13 20:58:25

unless there are serious sensory or dietary allergy type reasons for a child being "fussy" I firmly believe that they should not be indulged when they are guests in someone elses home - a 10 yo is old enough to know she should be POLITE about the food you have been kind enough to prepare - in fact being among other children who are not fussy eaters can often be a mini breakthrough for fussy children who WILL then try somehting different

as a small compromise, can you serve crusty bread & salad or something with the meals, so she can choose to just eat that if necessary. I certainly do not think the mother should be expecting you or herself to provide an alternative - if she is hungry she will eat whats available!

VenusRising Thu 28-Mar-13 20:59:13

Just prepare whatever most of the kids and adults will eat.

Let her mum know you're not cooking anything special for her fussy eater, and she can bring some food for her.

Sounds like this little girl may have allergies, but that's not your problem.

Enjoy your week!

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 20:59:46

Bit OTT Teggie, the OP was explaining how she felt the child was controlling the visit and everyone was pandering to her as though she was more special than anyone else.

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 20:59:49

Spoiled not applied blush

TeggieCampbeggBlegg Thu 28-Mar-13 21:00:39

It was the "" and the insinuation that a child who quite obviously has massive issues with food and eating is simply fussy. And the snide way in which 'special' was used to describe her.
Also the idea that one relative stranger would even consider cuting her of her food issues by forcing her to eat what the OP thinks she should eat.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:00:58

Thank you Jamie, your post was very measured by Teggies standards grin

anonymosity Thu 28-Mar-13 21:04:26

I agree you should just not let it bother you so much and allow for them to manage it as they see best / and be helpful with that.

I wonder, if she were an adult friend visiting who made a fuss, would you also be seeking to break her, or would you be more accommodating?

Badvoc Thu 28-Mar-13 21:04:40

Does this woman know how you refer to her child?

TeggieCampbeggBlegg Thu 28-Mar-13 21:04:43

True agent. Jamie put it so much better.
Sorry. Lack of sleep and 15 years of people helpfully telling me how to cure my special child of her fussiness.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Thu 28-Mar-13 21:04:50

I also interpreted "special" as very sarky, not very kind.

Yfronts Thu 28-Mar-13 21:06:27

In your shoes I'd cook one meal for everyone and let the mother know what you are cooking. Don't ask her opinion but tell her you are doing one very nice meal for everyone and if she thinks her 10 year old won't like it, then can she bring something extra along for her/let you know what extra to provide. I wouldn't let one child dictate everyone elses meal though.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:06:32

I read 'fussy-britchiness' as 'fussy-bitchiness' and was going to lay into ask the OP about it grin

Putting 'special' in inverted commas is a little inflammatory, though, isn't it? A bit like saying this 'vegetarian' child. The implication isn't nice, but may have been unintentional?

Yfronts Thu 28-Mar-13 21:07:24

Or don't discuss food beforehand. Cook one lovely meal and have some fishfingers (or whatever as back up for the fussy child

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 21:07:31

I remember my poor school friend being reduced to tears once when people tried to force her to eat one of her no go foods.

As an adult I am really ashamed of our comments about her sad

Hopefully I have made up for it by being very supportive of the therapy and going with her to restaurants to help her try eating out etc.

In my defence I honestly had no idea this kind of thing could be an eating disorder - now I know, though.

My nephew is a fussy eater. My kids are not now that they are a little older. If, for example, my in laws are coming over and I plan to cook a roast lamb, which I know he won't eat, I will do carrots and broccoli within the vegetable selection and roasties. That way, we all eat the same meal but there's a bit of a compromise?

It blooming annoys me too tbh but I guess there's many ways of parenting. I usually grumble to dh afterwards!

Good luck.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:09:44

The girl does sound as though she's been made to feel as though she's somehow special in the scheme of things.

That people will put themselves out in order to bend to what she will/won't eat, that it's OK to expect people to do that for her, and her mum doesn't seem to discourage it.

That's not being sarky, it's describing how some children can be if their parents don't bring them down a peg or two pick them up on it.

Khaleese Thu 28-Mar-13 21:10:20

I think it must be awful for mum, if you make a fuss she will feel even worse :-(

Don't be so quick to judge. (you don't know the details)

If the child only eats "pasta" just cook her pasta! If she was a vegan or veggie you would accommodate her wouldn't you?

Yes, but to put 'special' makes it sound more like you are taking the piss.

HollaAtMeBaby Thu 28-Mar-13 21:12:04

Does the "special" child eat bread and butter? If so I would just bring out a big plate of that a couple of minutes after the children's dinner has gone on the table and cheerily say to all the children "help yourself to bread!"

Alternatively, what about giving the DCs buffet/picnic style dinners? e.g. jacket potatoes with different toppings in bowls in middle of table?

TeggieCampbeggBlegg Thu 28-Mar-13 21:13:47

You really think it's that easy Agent? Really?
You think 'bringing a child down a peg or 2' will cure 10 years of eating problems?

You sound as clueless as the OP.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:14:31

Welovegrapes, I know you can't tell whether a child has got deep seated issues with food which will cause them problems in the future, or whether they're using it as a way of manipulating and controlling their environment, but wouldn't the mum have mentioned it to the OP at some point if it was the former?

She might not if she sees it as a private thing, but the 'whining' about it not being the right kind of chocolate points to the latter.

And how might her mother know?

TeggieCampbeggBlegg Thu 28-Mar-13 21:16:37

No. 'whining' about chocolate being the wrong sort points to deeper, more involved issues with food, and perhaps other aspects if life.

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:16:55

I'm not clueless about eating problems/disorders at all Teggie, but a child making a fuss about their food doesn't necessarily mean they've got a problem with it.

A problem with the adults around them not doing as they're told maybe, but that doesn't automatically add up to long term problems.

Or maybe get some pizza bases, lots of topping and let them have fun making their own. Then adults can have a meal of your choosing and kids enjoy it too but feel in control of their own food?

Used to do this a lot when kids had mates over. When all the ingredients melt in the oven its bloody hard working out whose is whose!!

Not automatically, no, but perhaps best not to assume the OP knows better than her parents.

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 21:20:50

I don't think the mum would know tbh. I was really good friends with this girl for the whole of our 10-18 school years and still am now. I am now almost 40.

Then, all our mums and dads and most if us kids said:

Why is this being pandered to?
The mum is spoiling her
It's just ridiculous
It's not genuine food intolerance

Now, I realise that if someone almost 40 is prepared to spend a week long business trip eating only bread and the crackers they brought with them, there is a serious issue. The eating disorder clinic obviously think so too.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Thu 28-Mar-13 21:22:26

I think too many outsiders do dismiss any fussiness as just that, they have no idea what is going on and should stick to supporting the parents.

And stop being so judgey.

Hear, hear.

Welovegrapes Thu 28-Mar-13 21:23:38

Btw because of my experience with my friend, this is what I would do. I would find out from the mum what the child likes and I would serve various children's options including enough things she would eat that the child will have a decent meal. I would not only serve what the child will eat - reasonable compromise.

That will enable your friend to really enjoy herself free of worries about her daughter not enjoying the meal. The dc will enjoy herself too.

Everyone happy!

PicaK Thu 28-Mar-13 21:25:03

Sorry but in a world where most kids devour chocolate of any kind, one who won't eat it because it's not the 'right' kind sets bells ringing for me as one with a genuine problem.

There are two issues here - first any whinging and rudeness the child shows is unacceptable. The parents should be tackling this. But equally unacceptable is to cold heartedly refuse to prepare food this child can eat.

If you went for days to a house where they were serving slugs and worms to eat every day, how would you honestly feel? - especially if served with the smug 'I'm going to get you to eat this' sneer that comes across strongly in your post. It's the same thing.

Please just be thankful you have kids without eating issues. As you can see - those of us who do (albeit of the politely refusing variety) tear our hair out on a daily basis. It's not like we haven't tried your approach repeatedly and with no success.

Are you sympathetic to your friend - would she confide in you if there were a problem or have you made your feelings abundantly clear?

theoriginalandbestrookie Thu 28-Mar-13 21:27:35

Seriously why is this even bothering you. My DS is fussy, I don't pander to him as much as this mother seems to and I try to minimise the inconvenience to others, but he has a fairly limited diet.

I want him to eat protein at meal times to stop him filling up on snacks therefore if its something I know he won't eat I'll try to get him something else such as bunging a couple of fish fingers in the oven. Luckily he does eat a lot of the stables i.e. pasta, rice, pizza, most vegs it's mainly mixed meals with a sauce or roast dinners that he doesn't like.

This wouldn't apply if we were there for one meal only - I'd just make him make do, but not so much for a weekend or longer.

Just let the poor child be. If you don't want to cook your children whatever it is she eats - what does she eat btw - then just do it separately for her presumably it's something easy like plain pasta.

HollaAtMeBaby Thu 28-Mar-13 21:28:15

By the way OP, why are you cooking separate meals for the adults and children? Even if you don't want to all eat together, why not make large quantities of things like lasagne/cottage pie/other dishes not based on mince confused that will do for children and adults? Then when it's time for grown up dinner, all you'll need to do is open the wine which you will need after putting up with the inevitable whinging of Special Princess Fussybritches

AgentZigzag Thu 28-Mar-13 21:30:47

That's very true Welove, and I can see what you mean (because you've explained it rather than having a bit of a rant like Teggie).

There are some things you just don't talk about to people outside the family.

I was just thinking that because the mum was as annoyed as the OP at her DDs eating, she could have said they were having problems with her whenever it came up, which a lot of people would naturally do with friends.

Of course, and possibly what you're saying, the mum might not know a problem is developing that might dog her for the rest of her life. Would that be unlikely though these days with the amount of information floating around about eating disorders? Might be difficult to apply to your own situation I suppose?

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

I am the mother of a very fussy eater (now 16). Quite frankly, if I thought a good, longstanding friend thought they could 'break' her in one weekend of her fussiness I would have asked a long time ago.

Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as that. As others have said, just make something that everyone else will eat and make sure there is bread and butter/cheese/salami/whatever she eats available too, and dont make an issue of it. It wont help, and it will only make your friend feel worse.

Heinz55 Thu 28-Mar-13 21:39:37

I never said I would "break" her!!!!! I said: I'm hardly going to change her fussy-britchiness in one weekend, am I??
My own children and pretty much every other child I know has their own foibles where food is concerned. I cook serarate dinners because MOST of the children wouldn't eat what we're having - and they (being children) have a more limited list of what they will eat but they will try stuff and will eat a reasonable variety. I'm not clueless about this child - I've known her all her life (and her parents most of theirs too), and the fussiness is about everything - not just food. It is about demanding attention ALL the time. She will eat bread and butter but not if I prepare it and sometimes not if I bought it.OF COURSE I know I am not going to change her but because it irritates me I needed a bit of feedback to remind me that it is not my problem and I probably should just suck it up on behalf of my friends. Do they know how I refer to their child?? I sincerely hope not because THEY are my dear friends but that does not mean I have to adore their child all the time (just do my best not to show it which hopefully I will manage this visit because I have let it out here a bit)
The mum gets very stressed about her attention seeking so no, I wouldn't like to draw attention to it - and yes, I do think she'd tell me if there was a specific problem with this child. So yes, to all you nice posters and all of you more agressive ones, I will shut up and put up becuae I suppose that's what you do for your friends and loved ones! blush

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.

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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