Advanced search have put my 7yo on 'the step' for refusing to eat his dinner- with the threat of leaving him there til bedtime?

(71 Posts)
yosammitysam Wed 15-Jun-11 18:19:29

So I put down dinner: sweet and sour prawns and rice- ds2 covers his face with his t-shirt and says in panicked, cross voice "no way am I eating THAT". It's all things he likes- haven't had (homemade) sweet and sour sauce for a while though I did cut peppers and carrots up itsy bitsy so you could barely notice them (I have super fussy children sad sad) He refused to even try it and stamped his foot and left the table. So he's on the step and not changing his mind and isn't going anywhere. Been there for over an hour.

His dinner is in the fridge. I've said he can sit there til bedtime and theres no food except his dinner. Then he's going straight to bed. I've said it's because he was really rude at the table and wouldn't even have a tiny taste of the food so he couldn't rightly say whether he liked it or not. I think he gets this but simply didn't want it and now won't back down.

My mum always says I make far too much fuss about food and dinner-times and they'll eat if theyre hungry blah blah... But I'm sick of them moaning about perfectly nice, healthy food and sick of them saying they like something but only a certain way. FFS there are kids going to bed all over the world with empty bellies through no fault of their own.

Thing is if he sits there til bedtime do I just pretend nothings happened tomorrow? Is it just a battle of wills? Am I making too big a deal of it like my mum says? I've turned into a battle of wills rather than him eating cos he's hungry.

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!! I just want them to eat their f******g dinners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yosammitysam Wed 15-Jun-11 18:24:05

SOMEONE HELP......................PLEASE................His constant stamping and sighing is driving me mad

allegrageller Wed 15-Jun-11 18:25:35

this happens to me nearly every night yosammity, so I deeply sympathise.

it's only one of my kids, but he eats barely anything and whines appallingly at the merest sight of vegetables, pizza, blah blah sad *he's 4)

he will eat 2 bites and then expect pudding- I ASK YOU....

yes I agree your ds was rude and it's right that you should be showing him there are consequences to that.

i am at my wits end with my ds2 tbh.

TattyDevine Wed 15-Jun-11 18:26:19

Well, I don't think you should back down. You need to consider what you do if they "follow through" when you say this stuff.

If its any consolation, apart from the step all night thing which I probably wouldn't have done, I would have just done the "well there's nothing else, sit quietly with the rest of us till we finish", I agree with you.

allegrageller Wed 15-Jun-11 18:26:29

btw to be honest I'd let him off the step now just make it clear he gets NOTHING ELSE tonight. At all. No biscuits, no milk just water!!

allegrageller Wed 15-Jun-11 18:26:55

the step all night is just too much to 'police' iyswim.

ItDoesntBodenWell Wed 15-Jun-11 18:27:03

Yabu, if he doesn't want to eat it, fine he doesn't get anything else, but making him sit on the step for an hour as well? Completely unreasonable.
I agree with your mum, it sounds like you are making mealtimes into very unpleasant experiences.

cybbo Wed 15-Jun-11 18:28:14

an hour too long IMO

It has become a Mexican stand off, who will crack first

I think you could sit with him and say how upset it makes you that you cook him a nice meal and he refuses to even touch it

if it was something he has eaten before he is trying his luck , and the consequence is he will be very hungry tomorrow morning

FetchezLaVache Wed 15-Jun-11 18:31:02

YANBU to punish, follow through etc, but an hour is way too long! Isn't the rule of thumb one minute for every year of their age?

microfight Wed 15-Jun-11 18:31:18

I don't know whether I'm right or wrong but what I do is just remove the plate and say that's fine if you're not hungry you don't have to eat BUT there is nothing else. I also cut out any treats/snacks the next day and explain nicely that as he wasn't hungry yesterday for tea it's probably best not to have treats.
It definitely works with mine.

omnishambles Wed 15-Jun-11 18:31:38

I was going to come on and say what cyb said - the softly softly approach might be better if you are both very stubborn. The step isnt going to make him want to eat sweet and sour prawns.

Just send him to bed hungry.

When we go through phases of eating difficulty I make mine sit down with me and write down everything they will eat in every combo and then when one of the items appear they dont moan about it as they have said they like it in the first place iyswim.

Imnotaslimjim Wed 15-Jun-11 18:31:39

I don't think there is anything wrong with making him do without tea if he's refusing to eat it. But leaving him on he step til bedtime is unfair. And let him have supper (just a plain piece of toast) otherwise he'll likely be awake at silly o clock with belly ache cos he's hungry

Food refusal is a tough thing to get through, but there is ways round it. I've never had to deal with it, but I know a few people who do. Ask your HV or GP for some advice

yosammitysam Wed 15-Jun-11 18:34:48

Oh god I'm clearly just a total meanie. I have sat with him and said that I was upset he wouldn't try it and that he was rude and that it would be nice if he came and said sorry (said he could get off step to do this) but he hasn't. Usually I do make him just sit til we've all finished but I just snapped tonight. And usually he cracks at some point and eats it and enjoys it. I'm just sick of it being such an episiode. I do try and make mealtimes nice- we all sit together etc and I usually make a firm favourite one day and something (healthier) more popular the next eg pasta bake yesterday, fishfingers tomorrow- prawns today (which they all think are ok). The thing is, they will mostly eat it in the end. But to get to 'the end' it's pure torture.

Thanks Allegragellar- nice to know I'm not alone!

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Wed 15-Jun-11 18:35:05

I think the step was unnecessary. Surely going without a meal is in itself the consequence?

I'm not eating that

<shrug> fine. go without then. Your choice.

I just think that it is never a good idea to make food a battle. If they refuse to eat their meal, then they go without their meal (and no snacking!). That's enough, imo. Being hungry because they refused to eat is the natural consequence and the best teacher. You've turned it into a battle of wills when it really didn't need to be. You would be better served by seemingly not giving a damn.

Mine are buggers for this. I put food into serving dishes, so if they refuse to touch it (to put any on their plate) it's not wasted because it can just go in the fridge and anyone can have it.

Soups Wed 15-Jun-11 18:35:41

I think you're a little UR, not for getting angry him being rude, but for putting him on the steps all evening. I can understand as meal time issues can be very frustrating and its very easy to get into stalemate situations. On the other hand I do think it's often the case that more debate and fuss is made about food, the worse things get.

I'd have put him on the steps for 7 minutes for being rude, then let him back in if he can remain nice. With the food I'd make him sit there until everyone has finished or give him 20 mins, clear the plates and then nothing for the rest of the evening. If he did at least try, or eat the rice, I'd have been happy to let him finish off with some fruit or bread later.

Not sure how you get out of the situation. With my 9 year old I'd probably have a quite calm chat with him, explain he really frustrated me, you both got wound up, it's not acceptable to be rude, it's best if he goes up to his room for the evening, tomorrow is a new day.

Sounds like you need a glass of wine smile

wineandroses Wed 15-Jun-11 18:36:42

I too thought 'the step' was supposed to be used for 1 minute for each year of a child's age - not for hours! that's really harsh. IMO you are also being very unreasonable making food a battleground; children get the message that they can use their refusal to eat as a way of asserting their independence - with the added bonus of winding you up. And I really hate the idea of food somehow being used to punish/reward.

defineme Wed 15-Jun-11 18:44:12

You are doing what lots of other people do so I won't say your wrong.
I can't be bothered with this battle and with ds1 he has autism and i suppose I'm sympathetic to his fear of things.
Mine (I have 3) are allowed a cou[ple of dislikes that I work around eg ds2 retches at egg so he has beans/cheese on toast if we have omlette. dd doesn't like pesto so I leave it off her pasta and she just has the cheese/peas/pinenuts on hers.
With super fussy stressed ds1 I have just always put out a couple of fishfingers for him, put new stuff on a plate near him, never told him he had to try it, but lots of praise if he did. Fill up with bread and butter/fruit + yog for pudding. He spent maybe 3 years eating a very limited range and now eats lots of things-all him asking to try or me saying do you want to try that?I never cooked a separate meal-I don't consider putting a fishfinger in/doing some bread difficult.

My twins eat every veg, try new things and encourage their brother-I think it's being relaxed and not making a fuss. I'd never insist they finished their tea before we had pudding- as long a sthey try a bit and my puddings are an important part of their nutrition!I appreciate that some days they're too tired to be hungry/want to talk about something first. I do expect them to behave at the table so I keep them talking with the 'tell me a good thing and a bad thing that happened today'

Rewards are good-my dd hates reading her school book so she gets pasta in her jar for it and she's going ice skating when the jar is full-she's never been so keen on her reading!

I did give ds1 vitamin sweets and huge amounts of the healthy stuff he's always eat like like nuts and berries. I also did mad things like baked bread made of courgette and gave him carrot juice to drink! He thought all of this was funny!

As for the step-what's the point?
Discuss it/apologise/move on quick is my policy/ You've been angry for an hour now? That's not good for your blood pressure.

yosammitysam Wed 15-Jun-11 18:45:38

seven minutes on the step would be a breeze for him! That's no time and I don't accept that 7mins time-out balances out him being totally rude and obnoxious! He properly stamped his foot at me! It's not on. I'll ignore it if they just pick or grumble but shouting at the dinner table is surely in need of a punishment. I do a minute per year for my 3yo. But I had explained to 7yo he could get off the step if he wanted to come and talk to me/say sorry for being rude.

Anyway, I have let him off the step now- will teach me a lesson not to dole out stupid punishments in heat of the moment.

Yes I guess hunger should work as lesson in itself.

I don't want to make food a battleground but the range of foods they'll eat gets narrower all the time. DS2 would very happily live on dry bread and dry cereal, honestly.

I despair

defineme Wed 15-Jun-11 18:46:41

That's a good idea-my dc help me meal plan some weeks.

bellavita Wed 15-Jun-11 18:46:49

That is way too long on the step.

Just say he will not get anything else, end of.

sarahtigh Wed 15-Jun-11 18:52:54

I did think it was 1 minute per year but there has to be an apology then cuddles if no apology another 7 minutes OP had said he could come off step if apologised and he is off now, missing one meal he will not starve and almost certainly sleep until normal time tomorrow

on a previous thread i remember someone saying each child is allowed 5 things they really don't like and she does not give them that, not sure whether there is an alternative though, although you said lesson learnt re punishemtns you do have to be very careful about backing down

dearprudence Wed 15-Jun-11 18:58:00

I'd sit on a step all day rather than put a prawn in my mouth.

An hour is too long, never mind until bedtime. You're focusing on the rudeness and the need to punish it, but IMO you need a totally fresh start with regards to eating.

I've struggled with DS too, so I sympathise on that, but surely it's better to focus on getting a bit better each day/week and praising the effort. Once the child is shouting and being punished, the situation has broken down and you're not moving towards anything positive that day.

omnishambles Wed 15-Jun-11 18:58:33

yosammitysam - I am trying to be much calmer in my house over things - not easy as I am a shouter and bloody hell they wind you up.

I just didnt want them to look back and remember us arguing every night over this sort of thing - I would rather I fed them fishfingers everyday or didnt do their spellings etc - lifes just too short sometimes.

Easier said than done though.

redexpat Wed 15-Jun-11 19:03:56

I think I saw a supernanny episode once where the parents made paper plate menus, and let the kids pick one for every evening. Would that be something?

TattyDevine Wed 15-Jun-11 19:04:19

He's probably getting a bit old for the step. I don't really do the step but correct me if I'm wrong, if they start doing standoffs and their age is too short etc its probably time for something else.

I might be crap but I like to let the natural consequence be the "punishment" for want of a better word. Often the reason why we don't want them to do something (or do want them to) is because we are trying to protect them from the consequence. So in this case that is him being hungry and going without dinner, and dinner going to waste.

Well, you've got the consequence anyway, which is the real "punishment" really, you did the step thing because he was rude but probably also because you were hoping it would jolt him into trying his dinner but it backfired.

Sorry if that sounds trite. Natural consequence will teach them "why" something is bad quicker than the step if there is a natural consequence, if there isn't or it goes way above their head, sometimes a withdrawal of privilige and a chat is more effective.

Bloody kids and not eating it does my head in. I do think generally if you go down the hard-ass route of giving meals and that's that, there shouldn't be too much stress to go with it in terms of sulks and cajoling and negotiation and all that jazz...its a simple I provide the food you eat it or don't, suit yourself type situation...

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