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mealtimes

(34 Posts)
davyatsea Tue 09-Oct-12 10:58:46

Here's one that I think will provoke some debate. DS, aged seven is fussy about his food to say the least. He doesn't like our choice of food at tea time despite trying to offer a varied diet. We eat around 5:30PM when we come in from work. DS doesn't always eat his tea whether we prepare something different for him or not. One hour later, just we as have cleared up from tea and getting ready for bedtime routines, ds announces he is hungry. The other night, he tried to help himself to sausage rolls from the fridge without asking. Some of his tea was still left uneaten on the plate as I hadn't yet cleared it away. When I asked him to place the items back in the fridge, I had a major tantrum. To cut a long story short, he helped himself behind my back. Now, I know you shouldn't let kids go to bed hungry, but when he is snacking and I am throwing good food away, I cannot let this go. Interestingly enough, I was advised to let somethings go after previous posts about his behaviour, and his behaviour is generally much better.

Last night, he asked for tinned rice, after not eating all his tea, and dw gave it to him just before his bedtime routine. After she took him upstairs for bed, he came down three times for the toilet. Question I have to ask, was he genuinely hungry, or was this an attention thing. As I said, we cannot let him go to bed hungry, but this habit has been occuring every night for quite some time. DW always gives into him. I dissagree with this, but then it is dw who gets most of the shopping despite working every day as well as me. Just wondered what you all thought? I suspect it is typical seven year old, but not entirely sure.

FredFredGeorge Tue 09-Oct-12 11:03:25

When does he eat his lunch? 5:30 is pretty early eating if he's having lunch.

GoSakuramachi Tue 09-Oct-12 11:04:46

wtf is tinned rice?

Why can't you let a 7yo go to bed hungry? IMO you can.

Give them a warning if they do not eat they will not be getting anything else before breakfast. Then 10/15 minutes later remove their plate.

Unless a child has a huge phobia of food they will not starve themselves. A few nights of being hungry in bed and they will soon buck up their ideas.

And any child in my house taking food behind my back would be in for serious punishment.

WitchesTitWhistles Tue 09-Oct-12 11:07:02

I agree with Fred.
If he's having a school lunch at 12-1 then it's an awful long time to wait for dinner. It can cause a sort of hunger confusion, if he's not eating at regular times. Does he get a snack on his return from school?

Kalisi Tue 09-Oct-12 11:13:11

Whatever you choose to do, don't make a big deal out of it That should make sure that any 'attention' reasoning will be taken away. Can't you just take what he doesn't eat at tea time (without a response) and put it on the side/in the fridge and he can have it later if he wants? It's entirely plausable that his bodyclock means he may genuinely not be hungry at that time but if he's a fussy eater anyway it may be a control thing. Doesn't have to be a battle.

nokidshere Tue 09-Oct-12 11:14:22

I think that you need to sort out mealtimes with a consistant and united approach.

If your child isn't hungry at 5:30 then move the mealtime to 6pm. Serve dinner and tell him what is for pudding. But make it clear that dinnertime is 6-6:30pm and anything that is not finished by then will be taken away and no more food will be on offer for the rest of the night. And stick to it. Serve him food that you know he will like and eat (you can address the wider issue of adding more foods later) and don't make a fuss.

While you are eating, do not discuss food or cajole him to eat, if he hasn't touched the food remind him that dinnertime is only till (whatever time). Praise him if he finishes but ignore and remove if he doesn't.

This will work in a week or so, but you have to remain consistant and stick together.

Hope this helps smile

Dahlen Tue 09-Oct-12 11:15:14

Well how anyone else organises their mealtimes and how they raise their child with regard to food is up to them, but my 'rules' are as follows:

1. No force feeding. If you don't want to eat it, it's fine.

2. However, if you don't eat a proper meal, there will not be any other food until the next proper meal time and I will not be offering alternatives.

3. Everyone sits down to eat the same meal - we do not have different meals for different family members. However, only food that the whole family likes is offered.

4. Fruit can be eaten at will and taken without asking.

5. Other snacks (e.g. cheese, cold meats) must be asked for first - purely so I'm not taken by surprise by a vital missing ingredient when it comes to cooking dinner later in the week. The only time I will say no is due to point 2 or if dinner is about 20 minutes away from being served.

Food is a valuable commodity and is becoming scarce. I believe that our children will grow up worrying about the cost of feeding themselves and their own families far more than we have ever had to. I want them to grow up knowing about the importance of nutrition, where food comes from, and its effect on the environment and economy. I want them to learn how to use cheaper, simpler ingredients to make healthy, nutritious and tasty meals while wasting as little as possible.

Regarding your own situation, it's something you need to discuss with your DW since you have to come up with an agreement that both of you can live with and implement consistently. However, it does sound like attention-seeking behaviour to me, and it's worth bearing in mind that a well-cared-for child in the UK is not going to come to harm from going to bed hungry on a few occasions while you try to establish more sensible eating habits and a better bedtime routine.

DS has his tea around half five but he always has a snack before bed, something like toast or cereal.

DS is also very fussy and mealtimes used to be a battleground but now I make his tea, if he doesnt eat it all (which he normally does) fair enough, but he knows he wont get anything till his normal snack.

dexter73 Tue 09-Oct-12 11:17:27

If my dd was still hungry before going to bed the only thing I offered was a weetabix with milk. If she was actually hungry she would have it but quite often decided that she wasn't that hungry!

I find with DS if he has a snack before bed he goes to sleep so much better than if he is a bit hungry. Routined for it now I think but yeah something like weetabix or toast.

Myliferocks Tue 09-Oct-12 11:26:42

Because of clubs there are some nights that my DC have to have their tea at 5pm as it is to late when they get back.
On these nights they will also have a snack before bed. It's nothing fancy just some bread/ crackers and butter or yoghurt or breadstick and a glass of milk.
If I think they are trying it on then I offer a breadstick. If they have one of them then I know they are still hungry.

ethelb Tue 09-Oct-12 11:28:23

i think that is v early for dinner. can he have a 'supper' before bed? or a snack when he comes in and dinner later?

I don't think there is anything wrong with not giving him any food if he refuses to eat a meal, he's not going to starve to death if he misses one meal. If you cave in and allow him to pick and choose what he eats of course you're going to have a fussy child.

impty Tue 09-Oct-12 11:35:38

I would let him go to bed hungry. I wouldn't make him a separate meal. I wouldn't allow snack between meals. I would try and enforce this all calmly (!)

And once in bed you stay in bed (unless there's a real emergency/ toilet needed/ nightmare).

If you suspect it is attention seeking then don't forget to go over the top with all the stuff ds is doing right. That does really work.

However, I do think you and your dw need to come up with a plan and stick to it together. Kids love to divide and conquer!

timetosmile Tue 09-Oct-12 11:37:41

DCs are now 12,9,5 and I have come to a middle ground on this.
Yeah, routine and boundaries are really important, but sometimes we as parents find ourselves locked into disputes which can affect the 'bigger picture' of the loving relationship we want with our children, But I'm no pushover!

Tea is at teatime (whatever it may be that evening due to clubs etc). If it's early, they haven't had an after school snack, and if not overly hungry they are at liberty to say 'can I just have a small portion?' However, they do sit up at the table together and must have decent manners <aspirational>.

They all have different lkies and dislikes, so I will do slightly different meals, as long as it 'fits' eg DD will have a chicken breast with the veg as she really doesn't like sausages. Or they can have a yog for afters if they hate my puddings sad I also put the veg in bowls and as long as they have a decent portion of one sort I'm not too bothered about individual veg preferences I don't go mad, but would offer e.g.carrots and/or sweetcorn and/or peas

No pudding unless a good amount of 'firsts' is eaten, I don't like the 'totally clear your plate' approach as that's the start of battles!

The older ones are sometimes hungry before bed so would have cereal/toast/yog/fruit.

They've got a 'food as fuel' approach to my lovingly prepared meals so loitering over tea is almost unknown, as they want to be down and on with the next thing...but no-one gets down until everyone's finished their 'firsts' otherwise DS2 will just scarper, full or not, to play with the others!

Kingcyrolophosarus Tue 09-Oct-12 11:44:35

Some people saying 5.30 is early, some saying it's really late!!

I think if you have a rule, that there is no other food if he doesn't have his dinner, he will soon learn

Is he having too much fir snack after school maybe?

Tinned rice, I assume is rice pudding?

ThalianotFailure Tue 09-Oct-12 11:48:06

I read on a thread once that if a child refused what was offered for a meal bread-and-butter was the only other choice (oh, and rude comments about the food offered were not permitted). That seems to me a good compromise, child not going to be hungry (though I agree that won't kill him) but you not pandering to his fussiness. Him going behind your back does need to be dealt with though.

Beanbagz Tue 09-Oct-12 12:04:46

You and your DW need to sit down and make the rules that you will both stick to. Then tell your DS what they are. You need to be together on this one rather than one of you laying down the law and the other giving in.

Does he have a snack after school? Maybe he's just not hungry enough for dinner at 5.30pm?

My own DC (10 & 7) have a snack when they get home from school - either fruit/biscuit/bakery item but then we don't eat dinner until 6.30/7pm.

Maybe you should plan your meals together? So that your DS feels he has a say in what's offered? Maybe he could help cook too? Does he have a limited diet (lots of food he doesn't like)?

I'm not sure what you describe is typical 7 year old behaviour. I know older children often want a bit more control over their food but i think at 7 this might be just attention seeking.

SooticaTheWitchesCat Tue 09-Oct-12 12:16:50

I don't think 5.30 is too early to eat, my children eat anytime between 5 and 6 and they are always ready for their dinner.

I don't let mine get away with leaving their dinner and then having something later. I wouldn't give them anything they didn't like and if they say they wont eat something they do like then I tell them they wont get anything else. I don't usually have a problem. I have actually given them bread if they were kicking up a fuss but that is very rare.

You need to get together with your DW and agree on no snacking and no pudding if he doesn't eat his dinner. Just a small snack when he comes in from shcool and nothing else.

If you stick to your plan he will get the message soon enough.

lynniep Tue 09-Oct-12 12:19:24

Kind of what others said -firstly - is he having snacks at after school club?(presumably thats where he is until you get back from work) DS1 (5) often eats a lot at his school club, and isnt that hungry at dinner time (about 6-15pm) I always get DH to ask them what he's eaten there - if it seems like a substantial amount (its only things like beans on toast, but they give them as much as they like) then we reduce the portion of his tea.

If not, its likely he is hungry, but he only wants what HE wants which clearly isnt acceptable. My DS's have to eat a reasonable amount of their tea/dinner before they get a sweet/pudding, which is what rice pudding is. They know they can't have it alone.

If DS1 is hungry later, which is rare because his bedtime is 7.30, he is offered dry bread and water. Not sausage rolls. Not rice pudding. And only if he's made a reasonable attempt at his tea. Otherwise he's offered his tea again.

At 7, I think its acceptable to let them go hungry. Its just hungry. Its not starving. Let him have water, and let him eat the tea he rejected. Refuse any other requests.

SadPanda Tue 09-Oct-12 12:19:25

Our rules were the same as Dahlen's

davyatsea Tue 09-Oct-12 16:09:27

Quite a variety of comments here. Need to have a think about them all. DS often has a snack after school (3:15 - 3:30). Tea is often around 5:30 and ds does have a say in whether he wants the same as us, ot something different. Whether he eats his tea or not, he is always given a yoghurt as pudding (as we all do). However, he is always looking for yoghurt, cheese strings, dairylea dunkers, suasage rolls or whatever is in the fridge. If I'm around, I offer him fruit, but he refuses that, much preffering the other options. Problem is that I am not always around to voice my opinions (working away 2-3 days per week. DW does most of shopping, moans about how much snacks ds is having, but wont stop this happening - all for an easy life in my opinion. Maybe I am just being OTT, but when stuff is so expensive, I find it hard to bite my tongue. Shopping bill for all 4 of us, myself, DW, DS, and DD aged 20 month is £100 per week mimumum.

FWIW there is only me, DH and DS and our shopping is more than £100/week. To be honest, your DS sounds like a typical kid...my DS is often on the look out for a snack and I never refuse him although sometimes give him a choice of stuff he isnt keen on. Fruit is never refused in my house.

catgirl1976 Tue 09-Oct-12 16:17:47

I think you can send a child to bed hungry if they have refused the food you have offered

Maybe do move the mealtime back a bit though

My mum used to offer an apple if I said I was hungry outside of mealtimes

Most usually I would decide I wasn't that hungry after all

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