Worn down by DD, 3 years old(10 Posts)
My dd is 3.5 and is very head strong,inquisitive and a handful.
Food is becoming a bit of an issue which is wearing me down. From morning till night all I hear is moaning and whining that she is hungry and wants a snack yet when I give her a meal she screams and cries and has hysterics.
At the moment her diet consists of milk, squash, yoghurt, bread, dry cereal,cereal bars and a little fruit and cheese
She actually looks repulsed at her plate. We can't eat as a family because she causing such an issue nor can we go to a cafe, restaurant etc.
I cook from scratch mostly and sometimes for speed give her chips fish fingers, even treated her a MacDonald etc yet all of it is rejected very loudly.
I include her in making the shopping list, watches me cooking and seems to enjoy it yet won't even try a taste.
I am fed up with hearing her whining about being hungry yet she won't eat. I have tried ignoring her, not giving snacks,begging her, conjoling her. Rewards of pudding and asking her what she wants, she chooses then rejects it.
She is 75th centile for both weight and height. I am worried about her health and creating food issues.
Please can anyone help.
Sounds like my son, 3yo.
Have you tried just sitting and eating your own dinner at the table? Usually when I do that son will get over his tiff and sit and nibble a bit. I try not to push it in his face, because there's nothing more annoying than being told to "eat your dinner, eat, dinner"... Have you tried a relaxed approach? My mum of 5 has always said that a kid will never starve themselves, if they're hungry they will eventually eat. Also they will go though phases of not eating, then start eating normally and eat everything.
Sounds like she is looking for a reaction and being very successful in getting one. Have you tried just ignoring her, serving one meal for everyone and never ever giving in and definitely never using food as a reward for good behavior. It may take a few days or even a few weeks, but she will not starve herself to death.
I think you have to try very hard to take all the emotion and upset out of the situation.
So, plan what meals you are going to cook, which should include an element that she is usually ok with. If you can, serve the same thing to everyone. Plan if there's going to be a pudding, and plan what snacks you will give in between meals.
Serve everyone and then get on with eating your food. Don't ask her to eat, don't comment on what she's doing, whether she's eating or not. If she whinges or complains, have a standard response ready such as "if you don't like it you don't have to eat it", and then leave it at that. Don't engage in any discussion about the food. If she behaves badly (throwing food, or whatever) then deal with that but don't comment on whether she's eating or not.
After a reasonable amount of time, warn her that it's nearly time to clear away, and then clear away. Give the pudding (if planned), irrespective of whether she's eaten the first course or not. Again, don't engage in discussion about the food. If she doesn't eat it, clear away and move on.
In between meals and snacks, if she asks for food repeat that it will be snack/lunch/tea time soon. Offer her a drink of water, as sometimes children mistake thirst for hunger.
Don't ask her what she wants to eat, beyond a choice of two things that you're happy with both. Don't use food as a reward or a treat, and try really hard not to talk about some foods being good and others bad.
It may well take a long time to resolve this, as it's taken a while to get to this point. She may be hungry between meals for a while, but that isn't the end of the world. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to turn it around.
I agree with the above posts, and not using either attention or any type of food as a reward, and not being drawn into the cycle of pleading with her to eat something and letting her make all the choices.
We seem to have developed a culture of snacks between meals as the norm these days. When I was a kid (more years ago than I care to remember, really showing my age!) we didn't have snacks between meals built into the daily timetable at all, other than maybe milk and a rich tea biscuit for elevenses and the occasional apple mid-afternoon.
Does she do any physically demanding exercise/play outside/go for walks etc? Fresh air is great for developing a good appetite.
I agree too. No more begging, cajoling or rewards. Cook a healthy meal, sit down with her, let her choose whether to eat or not. She's a healthy weight so don't stress if she eats very little. If you persevere I believe you should see an improvement using this approach.
I'm absolutely with Culture here. A very very wise post.
I'm hoping JiltedJohnsJulie will be around soon. She has excellent advice and helped me a lot. We're just coming through this with DD1 (4.5).
The main thing that helped was consistency.
She was offered a meal and if she rejected, then fine, it was taken away with no drama or shouting. I think a lot of it was control and wanting a reaction from me.
I allowed some compromise, say half a meal earns a yoghurt and a whole meal something a bit nicer. But whinging and whining meant nothing. I tended to keep the food on the side in case she changed her mind though.
Keeping calm and not showing worry or anger was the trickiest part but it was worth it. I only cook one meal for us all and everyone has the same thing. DD1's still pickier than her sister but the drama and tension is out of the equation.
Whatever rules you apply, stick to them and one day, one day this annoying phase will pass!
Oh and just read Culture's post again. Definitely agree with a calm, consistent approach whether you choose to give puddings/snacks or not.
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