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to withdraw privileges for not eating dinner....?

(76 Posts)
fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 18:10:18 screaming 'RIGHT THAT'S IT! NO TV OR WII TONIGHT' so loud my throat hurts.

I've only been on mumsnet a couple of weeks, but am thinking maybe IAMBU.

My kids are 3 and 4.5. Tonight, as usual, they both sat staring at their dinner (chicken fried rice, from last night's leftover roast). The 3 year old tried to get down from the table after 1 minute. The 4 year old, who is particularly bad at this, sits sucking his fingers, looking knackered and saying 'I don't like this it's yucky'.

This happens almost every night, and most lunchtimes, unless it is fish fingers or fish n chips.

I know this is pretty common, but it is SUCH an emotive issue isn't it. The 4 year old has a fast metabolism (like me), and I know if he doesn't eat regularly and a decent amount of protein his energy slumps and he flops about all over the place. He has real spikes and dips of energy.

He's tested negative for anaemia, diabetes etc, so it does just seem food related, and I try and give regular small protein snacks to keep him going - but so he definitely still has room for meals.

We've tried bribes (eat up you'll get your yogurt), ignoring, letting him go to bed hungry, involving them in the cooking process, spoon feeding (!) and nothing seems to work. Stubborn little sod.

FUCK SAKE it's SOOOOOOOOO ANNOYING. And tonight I let myself get proper angry blush.

So withdrawal of TV/WII privilege. Bad move on part? Unreasonsable as fuck?

How to keep calm? And what in all that is holy will encourage them to eat?

nocake Mon 04-Feb-13 18:17:10

We have a toddler who eats a very limited range of foods (always has) and often won't eat anything at a meal. The best advice I can give is to stop making meal times a battle ground. Offer the food you've decided on and nothing else. Don't make pudding conditional on eating their main course but don't offer anything extra because you think they might be hungry. Offer normal snacks between meals but only at the times you would if they had eaten normally. Don't provide extra snacks if they haven't eaten.

Do not bribe, persuade, coerce or try and convince them to eat. Let them decide if they want the food.

nocake Mon 04-Feb-13 18:17:50

I should add... it takes time and effort to stop taking it personally.

MrsMushroom Mon 04-Feb-13 18:22:17


Don't you ever not feel like your dinner? Children are excellent self-regulators and don't need force feeding. You will create food issues if you lose your temper or remove privileges.

Just take it away! If they come saying they're hungry in an hour offer fruit or a sandwich. It's not a big deal.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:24:02

I don't know but DS goes through phases of this too and he is also sensitive to blood sugar changes. I don't want to make mealtimes a battle, but don't want to leave him hungry either because his behaviour becomes absolutely unmanageable.

One thing which has helped is giving him a meal in very small parts, e.g. half a sausage, then some veg, then a potato or two, the other half of the sausage, some more veg etc. Don't give him more until he's finished the first part but because it's a small portion it seems manageable.

Also picking battles and going with a very limited number of meals or even unconventional meals as long as the balance is pretty much there - if he goes off cooked veg you can always make up with fruit snacks at other times or things like cucumber etc with lunch. Sometimes he eats ham on bread for breakfast etc.

I'll be back after bedtime smile

amicissimma Mon 04-Feb-13 18:26:59

What nocake said.

I find it staggering how little food some small children seem to survive on, but we don't hear of children starving to death, in homes where food is available, on a regular basis.

Offer food, remove if/when lack of interest occurs. Clear table.

You might as well learn to remain calm in the face of intense provocation now, as it's a skill you will need by the bucketful when you have teenagers!

Good luck. This phase will pass.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:34:08

Oh ok... he decided he needed the toilet instead grin

Look at the balance of foods over a whole day rather than a meal. If his blood sugar dips, try to concentrate on protein and complex carbs rather than sugary foods (which includes fruit) and simple carbs (white bread, white pasta, possibly potato?)

Don't stress yourself out trying to get him to eat new foods, stick to what he likes, once you're in a good routine of him eating, then you can think about trying new foods as you know he won't be hungry if he rejects them (Or my other excellent technique which is to make your own food between his dinner and bed time, so he's not hungry - maybe about one time in four, DS will come up looking interested and ask to have a try, and sometimes he even likes it.)

Offer a boring but not usually rejected snack before bed, like toast.

Don't take it personally! Don't give him stuff you've lovingly created, unless you know he likes it. Always offer back up toast.

fizzykola Mon 04-Feb-13 18:35:10

Thanks for the replies. Bertiebotts has nailed it. I am much less bothered by 3 year old's disinterest as I know she will not be flopping around/going loco from not eating. It's much easier to relax about if you feel they CAN regulate themselves.

It's because he is like that it is so hard to manage. Hat off (even higher) to parents of diabetic children for managing their meals.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:35:49

Hmm the problem is though if you have a child who is sensitive to blood sugar dips, their behaviour becomes utterly irrational and impossible to deal with when they do get hungry, and then it's even harder to get any food into them even later. The secret is managing the hunger but not allowing them to think they're in control grin

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:36:07


KitchenandJumble Mon 04-Feb-13 18:37:07

I agree with nocake. (Fantastic username/post combination, BTW! grin)

Young children control very little in their lives. Sometimes they discover that food is a way to gain control, and they will seize the opportunity. Don't turn it into a power game. Remove the emotion from mealtimes as much as possible. Don't cajole or bribe, just offer what's for dinner and move on. What they eat and how much they eat is up to the children. Precluding any unusual circumstances, they really will eat as much as they need to.

Good luck.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:38:56

I have to feel a little bit of guilt TBH because given a chance I'm like this too - skip meals because I don't feel like eating and then flop about and get the shakes because I'm hungry hmm I try not to be like this around DS but it's obviously rubbed off - or maybe it's genetic??

I find (for me) that buying food I'm really tempted to eat helps me remember to eat. So I've tried that with DS too - I always get cereal he likes, spread that he likes on toast, we go through phases of ham for breakfast, substituting crackers or croissants or wraps for bread for lunch etc.

StinkyWicket Mon 04-Feb-13 18:40:46

It is annoying isn't it? I reserve my own meltdowns for when my 4 year olds poo their pants because they're too lazy to get up <<screams in frustration>> grin

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:41:43

And ketchup - ketchup on everything.

TheMaskedHorror Mon 04-Feb-13 18:43:13

What time do they have dinner? Are they too tired? Could they have their dinner earlier?
Mine used to be too tired to eat by 6 sometimes so I now give them dinner at 5-5.30 and then a snack before bed.

I don't blame you for going crazy. I regularly do this if mine don't eat. I'm not sure about self regulation but if mine don't eat properly, they're coming down at 10-11pm saying they're hungry!

skullcandy Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

worsestershiresauce Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:24

Getting mad, making children eat things they don't want, and turning meals into a battle ground is a guaranteed way of giving children an eating disorder. I'm not trying to be rude, but I speak as someone who grew up in a house where this happened. Both my sister and I developed eating disorders, which lasted until we left home. Once away from our parents we both were fine.

If they won't eat it, just take it away and don't give them anything later. They'll eat the next meal. The odd floppy scenario is far better than the alternative - a child that becomes scared of meals, and scared of you.

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:28

YY dinner needs to be at least 2 hours before bedtime in my experience. Hence offering snack before bed too smile

piprabbit Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:58

My DS is irrationally fussy (the hate foods vary from day to day) and he s completely uninterested in food. We went down the route of serving him the same food as the rest of us, but making sure that we always included something he would eat. So every meal came with a side order of sweetcorn or orange pepper or raisins. That way at least a little food would be eaten which helped break the cycle of not eating>no energy>too tired to eat>not eating etc.

piprabbit Mon 04-Feb-13 18:46:50

Stinky DS also experiments with "Saving Poo" ie. leaving it too late to get to the toilet in time.

NopeStillNothing Mon 04-Feb-13 18:50:06

I was ready to come on here and say yadbu OP but having read the details I'm starting to feel for you. It is not in your best interests to turn dinnertime into a battle and it wasn't the right way to handle it but still, I completely understand your frustration. Not very helpful I know, here have a wine

ukatlast Mon 04-Feb-13 18:50:42

YABU and possibly cruel - at that age you have to serve what you know they will eat with new stuff as an added extra...they get there in the end. I wouldn't fancy a fry up of yesterday's leftovers either I don't think.

Don't make an issue out of is not worth it. There's nothing wrong with fishfingers and oven chips with some steamed veg alongside etc etc

Flobbadobs Mon 04-Feb-13 18:52:21

Whatever you do don't let mealtimes and food in general become a battle ground, that way madness (yours) lies!
Pick your battles wisely. YABU this time, food is not something to make an issue of unless you are a glutton for punishment!

BertieBotts Mon 04-Feb-13 18:58:07

From the OP I don't think this is a regular occurrence, more a one off. I think it would be unreasonable to impose regular punishment for not eating, but as an end-of-tether desperate outburst I can understand how it happens.

MrsMushroom Mon 04-Feb-13 19:19:37

I can't. I also can't see how a child is "sensitive" to blood sugar lows...unless the Dr told you that? ALL children are sensitive to that. Which is why a healthy snack offered later is a good idea.

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