Did I handle this right? What would you have done?

(24 Posts)
sleepcrisis Tue 21-Jan-14 22:48:49

DS is 2.7 and always been a pretty good ester but we're pretty firm with our rules - I've never ever offered an alternative and he does almost always get fruit/yoghurt unless he hasn't at least had a couple of mouthfuls and tried everything on his plate. He's always eaten everything on offer but often doesn't finish - fine by me - and e has recently started mucking around a lot - waving loaded forks around or saying e's done after 2 mouthfuls then asking for more 5 mins later. Pretty standard I'm sure.

Anyway today he was a handful all afternoon. He was asking for snacks constantly from about 4 pm which I managed to avoid giving (he had something substantial at 330 and we don't usually give snacks after that time. Dinner is 530.) He was hanging off my legs by 5pm begging for dinner, he asked for noodles over pasta which i agreed to and then he spent the next 15 mins watching me cook and repeating over and over 'I want my dinner'. Drove me nuts. I did shout at him to stop whinging which I felt v bad about but apologised to him and explained why he made me cross.

Anyway he gets in his chair, has one bite and then tells me he's finished and wants his yoghurt. I give him a few mins and a few chances to change his mind ( no yoghurt unless he eats a little more). Am totally calm but eventually I just get him down and we carry on playing. Literally 5 mins later he asks for a snack. I laugh. Re offer his dinner which is still out. He says no thanks. I ask if he's really hungry, he says no. We carry on playing. At 630 I re offer his dinner and tell him last chance before bath. He says no.

We go up to bath, he plays, he starts to get out at 7pm (bedtime) and says 'mummy can I have my dinner now!' DH says firm no to going back down to table in pjs but I say he can eat his dinner cold, fed to him by me, before he gets dressed, up in the bathroom! God knows why i did this but I really didn't want to take him back down to get all excited again, on the other hand I couldn't make him go to bed hungry. While he was eating we discussed that it wasnt nice to eat cold dinner in the bath but he knew the reasons why and he said tommorrow he would sit nicely and eat at dinner time.

I really don't know how I should have handled it. It seemed crazy feeding him in the bath. He was shattered and I didn't want to prolong bedtime any further. I didn't want to offer an alternative, something quick and easy, as this would have given mixed messages. And tbh I couldn't be bothered to prepare something different. I need to go shopping and there wasnt much else around.

So, to cut that epic story short, what wld you do?! Thanks in advance, sorry so long!

cosysocks Tue 21-Jan-14 23:17:08

Sounds like you found a good compromise! I hate sending DS to bed hungry but would have refused the multiple snacking as you did.

LastingLight Wed 22-Jan-14 06:42:21

Sounds as if you handled it in a very pragmatic way. Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do!

AnaisB Wed 22-Jan-14 06:55:06

Sounds like you did great. I don't send dd to bed hungry, because it just means she wakes in the night.

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 13:19:03

Thanks for the replies. I often got to bed at night upset at whether I did the right thing. I think DS sensed I was really actually quite hacked off with him (for whining incessantly for food and then not eating it).

Its so hard to come across as calm if you're really bloody shattered, 7 months pregnant and pissed off!

Now I need to solve the breakfast conundrum (he just won't eat it. sigh. he's always been a main meal man but breakfast is just a waste of time, apparantly.)

TheUniverseIsInfinite Wed 22-Jan-14 13:47:12

I would send him to bed hungry, he must learn the consequences of not eating his meal at the right time. Not only that but he would also develop an internal clock for eating and he would soon be eating properly. My 6yo DD had the same problem, she would not eat her breakfast, lunch or dinner and expect to be fed hot dogs (advice from some dumbass foreign doctor) as an alternative to not eating. I soon put a stop to that, if she didn't eat, she would get nothing and within a few days she was eating 3 meals a day on time.

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 13:56:57

Would you send her to bed hungry even if it was a one off? Because it was the first time I've had to do this and it seemed a bit harsh as a first time 'punishment?'

In theory I think it has to be done if the child won't wat at mealtimes full stop, but like I said DS is a great eater he's just been testing the waters a bit recently. This is the first time he's refused dinner and then asked for it again.

Maybe if he does it again tonight I'll think twice...

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 13:58:06

And sorry, I can't help but pick up on this, but what relevence does 'foreign' have? A doctor is a doctor, right, British or not?

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 13:59:00

but yes, hotdogs is crazy advice

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 14:07:06

I think at 2.7 I would have given him food when he asked for it- it sounds to me as if he had gone beyond hungry when his dinner finally appeared.

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 14:10:50

hmm, I know that beyond hunger thing myself, you might be right. He was obviously pretty hungry at 4pm!

I know this is a small problem in hindsight but there are so many little things like this that you just want to get right and set a good precedent.

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 14:15:53

Oh, and I would never send a child to bed hungry- out of pure unenlightened self interest. They will only wake up howling!

I think I would just have said a cheerful(if through gritted teeth) "ok, then let's nip downstairs and you can eat your dinner before bed" rather than make more of it by doing the dinner in the bath thing. Although I can quite see why you did!

murphy36 Wed 22-Jan-14 14:58:34

Goes to bed hungry. Although I'd have made that consequence clear when scrubbing the dinner into the bin.

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 15:03:50

wow thats hardcore! I'd love to say I could take that approach, murphy, but I think I'm just a bit too soft. FWIW I do think thats probably the best way of managing a long term problem, but I don't think I could see it through. And like curlew, value my sleep too much (I'm massively Pregnant!)

TheUniverseIsInfinite Wed 22-Jan-14 15:29:06

Sleepcrisis, in my opinion, people who become a doctor in Africa or India for example just aren't up to British university standards.

murphy36 Wed 22-Jan-14 15:32:13

Not sure it's hardcore. I'd take the hit on a night or 2 if it went like that rather than be mucking about with meals not being eaten.

curlew Wed 22-Jan-14 15:34:52

"Sleepcrisis, in my opinion, people who become a doctor in Africa or India for example just aren't up to British university standards."

Good thing your ignorant opinion doesn't count for much, then, isn't it?

The go to bed hungry people- you have noticed that we are talking about an under 3 year old here, haven't you?

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 16:10:52

What a bizarre opinion. Your doctor was possibly a 'dumbass' but regardless of whether he was 'foreign' or not. I have seen plenty of English doctors who's opinions I'd query. I'd never feel the need to add foreign in my derogatory description of them, not being English myself.

Anyway back to DS. Here's hoping I don't have to face this predicament tonight but in the future I'll probably end up doing something equally adhoc but maybe dinner in the bath was making a bit too much of a deal of it. I maybe should have at least sat him at the table to eat his cold, congealed left overs. I feel cruel enough serving him that! At least he wolfed down his cold vegetables first. They could be described as semi palatable.

Thanks for all the comments. I'm less worried that I've totally screwed up my good eater now. Am prone to a bit of worrying. He's eating just fine today but I know fussiness might come as standard in the next few months/years. I will keep my cool.

Sorry for altering the tone, I can't help myself sometimes.

Alanna1 Wed 22-Jan-14 17:07:12

FWIW, when I have this situation I offer a glass of milk before bed.

murphy36 Wed 22-Jan-14 19:02:36

My DP says he wouldn't be allowed to leave the table until food was finished. On reflections it's better solution

Onesie Wed 22-Jan-14 20:18:56

I think you did the right thing. It sounds like he was tired or bored to nag for food so much.

Goldmandra Wed 22-Jan-14 20:49:07

Try to put yourself in his shoes.

He wanted his dinner but he wanted his yoghurt more. Once he'd had a mouthful of dinner he decided to have a go at getting the yoghurt. You said no. He stuck it out.

Later on his hunger became greater than his desire for yoghurt so he took what was available and ate it.

Tomorrow he might hang out for the yoghurt for a while again but it's less likely to be until bath time.

Eventually he'll realise that he's not going to get the yoghurt sooner by refusing most of the meal.

What would have happened if you'd given him the yoghurt and allowed him to get down? Would he still have been hungry at bath time? If so he could still have eaten the main course at that point but you wouldn't have been seen to withhold a sweet treat because he wouldn't eat the savoury. This sends out a much healthier message.

Could you replace the yoghurt (which is a very sweet treat) with fruit after his evening meal so he isn't hanging out for dessert so much? Also you might feel better if he's gone to bed having eaten a piece of fruit than if he's had nothing.

I wouldn't send a child to bed hungry so I would offer at least milk before bed. However, I'd be very happy to allow a child who is regularly refusing food that they definitely like to go without snacks between meals so that they are really hungry when the food is served. This isn't a punishment. It is because food is much more attractive and eating is far more enjoyable if you have a decent appetite.

sleepcrisis Wed 22-Jan-14 21:19:46

Thanks for that response Goldmandra.

Not sure if I made it clear in OP but DS doesn't have 'pudding' or sweet yoghurt, its only fresh fruit with or without plain greek yoghurt. Sometimes he has unsweetened stewed apple or blueberries. So not really a sweet treat like petit filous or something BUT he is utterly obsessed with fruit and would eat it all day everyday, so sometimes I do feel that I have to restrict it so he'll get more of a balance. Honestly he would eat any kind of fruit for breakfast lunch and dinner. He gets his sugar kicks from mango ffs.

You're right about giving healthy messages, I don't like withholding anything which is why I usually give him the fruit regardless BUT he does have to at least have a go at dinner eg 4 mouthfuls or trying everything once if its something new. Does that sound ok? I know witholding the second course is a really bad message and I don't want to get into that trap. So I'm going to really try hard not to let that happen again. Sould I offer fruit even if he doesn't even try dinner? TBH thats a very rare occurence so I doubt I'd be in that situation anyway.

As for offering milk, he still gets milk every night anyway with his story but I didn't think about that at the time - in hindsight yes, that probably would have been enough to keep him full til morning.

IN case you're interested, he did say no to dinner this evening but once I told him he'd probably end up eating it cold again later he sat down and had a good go at it. Then he ate a bowl of pineapple (He definitely ate more pineapple than he did main course!)

I'm also going to try bringing dinner a bit earlier again as I do think he was a bit over tired and over hungry both yesterday and today.

Goldmandra Wed 22-Jan-14 22:18:11

It makes perfect sense to restrict his fruit intake so he gets more of a balance.

As you're offering a healthy yoghurt option perhaps consider whether it matters what order he eats his food. We traditionally offer savoury then fruit/sweet but I'm not sure if it would matter for a child to eat fruit before pasta if that's what they really want. That's down to personal preference. Personally I wouldn't worry if he had the yoghurt/fruit (a reasonable amount) and returned after a while for the cold main course. He'd learn eventually that the main tastes better when it's fresh.

This evening's events sound like a good indicator that your instincts were right last night. He learned from natural consequences and made a better decision. You can't get much better than that.

If he had a substantial snack at 3.30 yesterday are you sure he will have been hungry by 5.15? I would imagine the snack was still in his stomach at that point and the fuss about dinner may have been more about tiredness or attention than food. That would also explain why he didn't want to eat it until later.

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