Do you make you child eat all their dinner before allowing a pudding?

(43 Posts)
Florencejane7 Tue 03-Jun-14 09:50:41

So this question has come to me after numerous comments from my parents and the in laws. If you don't eat all you dinner then you don't get a pudding. Well that's all very well if you have presented your child with something that you know they like and have eaten before but what if you have tried something new and they really don't like it but eat everything else on the plate or what if you gave them too big a portion? I remember as a child having to eat all my dinner and it was nearly always meat. I hate meat now and maybe that is why?! I ate it to get a nice pudding. This was in the 70's when vegetarianism was practically unheard if. If my children dislike a dinner I will never make another meal (although they will ask for one). Instead I make them eat all of what I know they like before having a pudding and if they don't do very well with their main meal then I still give them a piece of fruit because surely that's better than sending them to bed starving hungry. What does anyone else do?

GooseyLoosey Tue 03-Jun-14 09:55:09

Not big on puddings, but it would depend on what I had given them so no hard and fast rule.

Some things I insist they finish - mostly veggies. Could not generally care if they don't eat all pasta or spuds and certainly would not force them to eat more than they wanted.

If I can see that they genuinely do not like something I have made, I would not force them to eat it. They do however have to try it and more than one fork full. However, this is on the basis that I know what they hate and would never present them with something comprised of ingredients they do not like.

Would always let them have fruit or a yoghurt after a meal if they said they were hungry.

We don't expect (although we do encourage) DD to eat foods she doesn't like. She's 2, so if she doesn't like it, were very aware we are likely to just set up food problems for later, & we don't want it to be a battleground.

However, if she's been presented with a plate of food she does like & has enjoyed many times before, & decides she isn't going to eat it/throws it on the floor etc, no pudding. On the basis that she is clearly not hungry. We don't want to encourage her to think that the way to get to eat only pudding at every meal, is to misbehave.

Caveat: she is healthy & generally a good eater, & tall & heavy for her age.

RosesandRugby Tue 03-Jun-14 09:58:58

My children when at home have to eat everything on their plate before they get pudding but that also goes for the adults. I generally serve small portions anyway as I consider pudding to make up part of the size of the meal. If they are still hungry they can have fruit/carrots/celery etc later.

If we eat out and the portions are huge then I don't mind them leaving some of their main meal so they can have pudding.

RosesandRugby Tue 03-Jun-14 10:01:33

Forgot to say, if they have new foods I generally let them try it before I stick it on their plate so that way we don't get an entire plate of wasted food. I can box it up and freeze it for my husband to take to work if they don't like it. If I boxed it up off the plate then it would be wasted as the children often mix their food with all sorts of junk (tomato sauce/mayonnaise/mustard etc)

CarCiKoTab Tue 03-Jun-14 10:01:44

Our children have to eat all of what's on their plate otherwise they won't get a pudding but, we don't MAKE them eat it they know if they eat it all they'll get a pudding, if they don't they won't.

Can I say, I was always made to eat all my dinner, whether I liked it or not. I had to sit at the table for hours with a plate of cold stew or similar, many times. It would then go into the fridge for the next evening if I didn't finish it. I would get stressed about mealtimes & have IBS. I don't know which started first.

I don't have an excellent relationship with food, I don't think this helped.

However, small portions, of food that is known to be liked (and a tiny amount of a new food perhaps) sounds reasonable to ask a child to finish.

ChunkyPickle Tue 03-Jun-14 10:05:27

No, I don't.

I will say that I'm very lucky though - 3 year old DS is fine about trying new things, and be honest about whether he likes it or not, so I can trust that if he says he doesn't like something, then he really doesn't, and that if he's had enough then he's really had enough.

He eats a wide variety, so the fact that he doesn't like lettuce or peppers for instance, or leaves half a sausage but still wants ice-cream isn't an issue.

He's also not a gorger - he'll happily eat only a few sweets, or reject pudding in favour of something else if that's what he fancies.

If I had a child who was fussier, or inclined to stuff themselves on biscuits then refuse dinner I would probably act differently though.

Naicecuppatea Tue 03-Jun-14 10:06:46

No, I don't believe in forcing food when it is not wanted or when my children are full. However, I want them to give their dinner a fair go and encourage them to eat an extra spoonful of dinner when they mention that they want some pudding. But they don't have to clear their plates. If that makes any sense at all! I do give them healthy portions so I don't expect them to always finish it all.

They usually eat whatever I give them with no problems but if they really don't like whatever it is after trying it again I wouldn't force them and I would probably give them something else.

If they totally refused their dinner that I am sure they like then they would not get pudding either, because I would assume they're not hungry.

Nope. Never.
Ds eats pretty much everything, likes most things, and I don't give him too much on his plate - I'd rather he have more than get used to leaving food if it's too much or he didn't like it.
Dessert is dessert and has nothing to do with whether you've eaten or enjoyed your main dinner.
But we don't have dessert every day, maybe a couple of times a week at the most. I tend to bake quite a lot though, so we'll have cake in the afternoon quite often.

HavannaSlife Tue 03-Jun-14 10:12:48

I wouldn't but we don't really have puddings. Ds3 is going through I difficult food stage, sometimes he will eat and try new things and sometimes he wont. They van have fruit later on if they are hungry, even if they havent eaten much dinner.

CMOTDibbler Tue 03-Jun-14 10:14:55

We don't have pudding. Theres a meal and thats it.

TitsCrossed Tue 03-Jun-14 10:18:49

Absolutely not in this house. I hate the idea of using food as a reward/threat/battle ground. Ds will often go back to his main course after he has had a bit of pud. Children need to learn when they are full and to self regulate intake.

I feel strongly about this as someone who was made to eat it all up, and sweets were a reward. I still have an unhealthy relationship with food now and spent some years under an eating disorder clinic.

They never have to clear their plates but, if they are faffing about or haven't touched their food, we might set them a target of 5 more mouthfuls or just clear a small defined part of the plate.
There is a difference between finding a food too repulsive to eat (which is fine, everyone has their dislikes) and wanting to get back to playing.

They know that they won't get pudding if they haven't had a reasonable stab at their main course - because if you aren't hungry enough to eat the main course then you don't need any pudding. But it isn't something we talk about.

IKnowAMouse Tue 03-Jun-14 10:22:57

No never. I let them make up their own mind when they have had enough to eat and when they are ready for pudding. Although if they don't finish their main meal it goes in the fridge in case they are hungry later on. I have never in my life said "just eat a couple more forkfuls".

No. I feel compelled to clear plates even when I'm full to bursting and am trying to train myself to leave it if I'm full.

mousmous Tue 03-Jun-14 10:26:29

my dc have to eat a 'good portion' and try (=have a spoon full) everything on the plate. in case they haven't eaten much, the mains plate stays on the table so they can finish it after pudding if they are still hungry.

andsmile Tue 03-Jun-14 10:30:55

I do the same OP - if I think my 8 year old is just rushing to get back to a game or whatever then I encourage him to eat some more.

Sometimes I think oh, did put a bit much on.

But on the subject of puddings generally..i went through a phase of makig hot puddings, suppose it was the winter. Now I am back to just offering yoghurt and fruit - usually after a little while as part of a snack plate for supper. This depends on if they had a snack at about 4pm which I sometimes give them if we are eating later with DH at about 630/7.

SilveryMoon Tue 03-Jun-14 10:35:40

I don't. I didn't want to promote one food is better than the other. We don't have pudding every day and sometimes is just yoghurt or fruit anyway, but even if it's a cake, they can have it regardless.

DaVinciNight Tue 03-Jun-14 10:47:27

That's why I never serve the dcs but the dish is on the table do they take what they want to eat rather than I want them to eat.
I also always ask them to try and eat a small portion of food, even if I know they aren't keen because by experience, most things that are new aren't nice but after a few goes, it's acceptable and then becomes good.
I would refuse to make them a separate meal though.

Fwiw my MIL has the same attitude and it took us a long time to make her realize we don't agree with it, mainly because I believe it teaches children NOT to stop when they are full.
Also 'pudding' at our house is more or less always a fruit and I am struggling to be upset that dc2 wants to 'keep some space' for dessert when he is going up eat an apple!

Ragwort Tue 03-Jun-14 10:52:39

Never have puddings so it just isn't an issue. Is it common to have puddings these days?

hedgetrimmer Tue 03-Jun-14 10:58:52

I dont make mine finish their dinner,esp not to get a pudding,i also dont use food as a bribe or a punishment.

Ragwort - I think a lot of families finish a meal with yoghurt or fruit.

voodoochimp Tue 03-Jun-14 11:07:30


I also don't make myself eat all my dinner before having pudding!

ouryve Tue 03-Jun-14 11:11:04

During one of his worst food refusal stages, I didn't care what order DS1 ate his main course and pud (usually fruit or yoghurt) in. What mattered was that it got eaten so he didn't spend the evening hungry.

Even now he's 10, if for some reason he can't eat his main course (usually anxiety related - he has ASD) I'll not prevent him from having the dessert he was going to have, anyhow, if he asks for it later, when he's a little calmer.

ouryve Tue 03-Jun-14 11:16:51

And our experience was the same as titscrossed - when he'd had something extremely appetising, it often stimulated his appetite and he went back and ate some of his main course.

I have vivid memories of being made to sit and eat food I hated. My brother could keep the same piece of food in his mouth all evening and not bring himself to chew and swallow. It didn't work. Turning all those ingrained "rules" on their head did work for us and made mealtimes much calmer.

lynniep Tue 03-Jun-14 11:30:17

My two love sweet stuff, they love puddings, and I do say they have to eat their main meal before they have a pudding.

Puddings vary - can be a yoghurt, jelly, an ice lolly, fruit (my littlest loves fruit but my eldest not so much) or sometimes a 'special' pudding (like trifle or a crumble) or even cakes/biscuits if we've been baking them.

I don't mean they have to eat everything on the plate. I mean they have to make a reasonable attempt at eating their dinner. This means trying everything on the plate. If they don't like it, I won't make them eat it. It also means eating enough to fill them up which I can usually gauge by what they've already eaten that day, and how much running around they've been doing. I vary what I put on the plate based on that too.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Tue 03-Jun-14 11:33:56

No I don't. For me, it comes from my own childhood where we were forced to eat every scrap on our plates (not physically forced, but not allowed to leave the dining room until the plate was empty - how ever long that may take). I totally understand why they did it - money was tight & they couldn't bear to see money being wasted.

Whilst I don't blame my parents at all for my obesity as an adult, I do definitely think that the idea of "everything must be eaten" has become so ingrained in me from childhood that it has clearly become a contributing factor throughout life.

I also feel that taking the "your plate must be cleared to have a pudding" stance, places emphasis on the sweet pudding being the 'treat' element of the meal. The prize for enduring a mammoth plateful of fish pie & cabbage. As an adult, I have always used sweet foods as treats - even though, bizarrely, I prefer the taste of savoury food - which has meant that every time I think I deserve a 'treat' (bad day, good day, boring day, upset etc. etc.) I turn to cake, chocolate, ice cream etc. I put this down to having been taught that these things were ultimate treats as a child.

We don't have pudding as such in our house (unless we are eating out & then the DCs will choose whether or not they want one). We will have dinner & then people will ask for something else later if they are still hungry. This is just as likely to be a bowl of cereal as a bowl of ice-cream though.

MillionPramMiles Tue 03-Jun-14 12:07:08

We don't offer puddings generally. If dd (aged 2) has her dinner relatively early then I'll offer her fruit/yoghurt later on. I offer her fairly big portions of her main meal and let her eat as much or as little as she wants.

Puddings are occasional treats (like ice cream in the park or afternoon cake at GPs), not part of regular meals. They're not about satisfying nutrition or hunger.

MilkRunningOutAgain Tue 03-Jun-14 20:20:57

I was always relaxed about DS who ate a good variety, doesn't overeat and generally treats food sensibly, so I often let him eat pudding half way through his main course, frequently he then finished the main course after the pudding. But once DD was weaned, I've had to toughen up, or she'll not eat main course and eat lots of pudding. I give her a small main course and provided she's finished most of it, particularly the veggies, she gets a pud. To be fair, I now do the same for DS too. If either of them dislike something, or if I spoil a meal (I get distracted and burn things) then they do not have to eat it. DD nags incessantly for treats, though I only serve them once or twice a week, tbh it's a real issue.

The puddings are often fruit and yogurt, though I do rice pudding and stewed fruit and custard quite often, and usually a treat cake, pie or biscuit at the weekend, but eating purely fruit and no carbs gives dd a bad stomach and sometimes diahorrea.

Florencejane7 Tue 03-Jun-14 23:27:55

Well thanks for that. Given me food for thought so as to speak!

Florencejane7 Tue 03-Jun-14 23:32:10

I don't know. When mine were really little it was always fruit or yoghurt but the last couple of years have ended up being fruit plus treat related pudding. Now they fuss if only get fruit. They have yoghurt as part of breakfast now instead. I never have pudding myself though.

WorraLiberty Tue 03-Jun-14 23:35:21

We only have puddings on special occasions like Christmas/Easter/Birthdays.

I don't consider a piece of fruit to be a pudding, because it isn't.

And no, I don't make my kids eat all their dinner in order to have a pudding.

They'll mostly leave it half an hour or so before they're ready to have pudding anyway.

CheesyBadger Tue 03-Jun-14 23:39:35

Never. Food is not something to be earned in this household. Pudding is not s treat, it is part of the meal.

I just hate the idea of rewarding with food in any sense. Children need to learn to regulate their appetites and dd is very good, refusing pudding if she is too full. She is relaxed about trying things and being honest about what she likes, doesn't like.

AdoraBell Tue 03-Jun-14 23:40:25

Mine are nearly teens now and I have begun to relax about this. It depends on why they haven't finished the main course. If I think they can't be bothered but want to wolf down something sweet before hurtling towards the TV then it's tough luck. If I've tried some new fangled way of cooking, or it's my favorite but defo not their favorite dish then I'm more lenient.

I've never felt the need for them to clear the plate completely like my PILs. If they have eaten say, 90% of the food I'm happy. I didn't follow DH's suggestion of giving them pudding first while on holiday when they were toddlers. That way madness lies, IMO.

elfycat Tue 03-Jun-14 23:46:31

No. My 3 & 5 have learned to stop when they want to, something neither DH or myself know how to do. We're both overweight.

To be fair DD1 stopped eating halfway through a portion of chocolate ice cream a few weeks back, because she was full. I'm not interfering with that level of control.

I also allow snacks before dinner (much to MIL's horror) but only fruit and veg - so tomatoes with cucumber and carrot slices, or apple and pear. Or all of the above depending on any delay to main meals.

AllDirections Tue 03-Jun-14 23:49:45

No never. I have issues from childhood resulting in me not recognising when I've eaten enough. I only feel I've eaten enough when I'm stuffed so I wanted my DC to regulate their own food intake. I don't encourage them to eat more once they say they've had enough and I let them have pudding if they want it. They all eat quite well.

I don't insist on anything being finished. They eat what they eat and that's fine. Pudding is usually a yogurt anyway, sometimes ice cream, sometimes a home made cake. We often have main meal, then fruit, then 'pudding'.
I want my children to see sweet things as ordinary and non-special. I grew up viewing sweet things as treat foods and still 'treat' myself with unhealthy foods. I don't think it's a good way to view food.

lljkk Sat 07-Jun-14 08:48:22

They have to finish their veg to get pudding. I know which veg they'll eat & don't apply the rule to veg they'd never encountered before.

Pudding is usually biscuits (their choice).

TroyMcClure Sat 07-Jun-14 08:50:39

We don't do puddings

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 07-Jun-14 10:08:33

I would give pudding if my 3yo doesn't finish her food. Sometimes she doesn't even touch them. Just a yuk and go away. However like many here I don't do puddings really. It is a very rare thing. We do have fruit but we have them as snacks at any odd time. And she always have a yoghurt with her sandwich (tea is always sandwich). The yoghurt is given at the same time as the sandwich.

It just seem wrong to me to bribe a child to eat her main with the promise of cake or icecream.

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 07-Jun-14 10:11:32

When I do bake, biscuits and cakes are eaten at any odd time too. When I feel like a biscuit I will ask DD if she fancies one.

crabwoman Sat 07-Jun-14 14:55:10

No. Sweet food in out house is a yogurt or fruit. But in my opinion that is classed as food, not a treat.
I do dessert on a Sunday, and if we go to family then there's always dessert. But again that's usually a crumble or some stewed fruit/rice pudding.
Anyway.....I don't make a big deal of DD finishing a meal. She has no issues with food and I may have misjudged her appetite/portion size on that day. etc. I'm certainly not going to encourage her eating until she's stuffed, and I neither want to make eating a battle or an endurance for my kids.
My gran was a bugger for it though, and I wonder if it's left over from WW2 and rationing (not being allowed to waste food, however grim).
However they maybe have not taken into consideration that portion sizes are now significantly bigger than they were in 1942?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now