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Teatime tantrums

(7 Posts)
marylou242 Wed 20-Jul-11 14:34:57

We are really struggling with our almost two year old every day at tea time (sorry - this is going to be long....) He just doesn't want to eat and is obviously hungry as he's not eaten since his lunc at 12. He has a nap/rest from about 2.30-4ish. I start trying to give him his tea about 5.30, the tantrums can go on until almost 7pm. We are getting pretty fed up of this every evening and would appreciate any advice, I think we must be doing something wrong but not sure what.

The first problem is he's really fussy - survives on cheerios, cheese, bread, jam, bananas, strawberries, yogurt, cucumber, boiled egg yolk, carrots, sardines on toast, cereal bars and the occasional bit of pasta or ham. I'm very grateful that he'll eat fruit and veg but the rest of it is very limiting. I always try to give him a bit of whatever we're having but he is 95% likely to refuse it. By the time his dad gets home, the tantrums have started...

Obviously he doesn't want to eat what I've made so I make a back up of something he likes. He is then awkward about most of the following every evening: sitting at the table, sitting in a particular chair (keeps wanting me to swop - not allowed), wants to mess with his drink and have other cups to pour it in and out of (not allowed), wanting to eat off our plates or drink from our drinks (not allowed either), asking for food then not eating it when I get it for him, wanting to get down from his highchair even though he's eaten nothing, trying to get us out of our seats even though we are eating our tea.

One of the triggers seems to be when his dad arrives home from work about 6. He gets very excited and in combination with being hungry, this leads to more tantrums. If he has got down from his highchair by this point, he always goes and pesters his dad when he's eating his tea by trying to pull him up from his chair. I have explained that he should either sit nicely and eats his tea with daddy or he has to go in the other room. We have started putting him in the lounge if he doesn't leave his dad alone but I'm not sure if this is working. We have had limited success with him eating sitting on his dad's knee, but I don't want to do this every night.

We'd really like to have our tea together at the table but it just doesn't seem possible at the moment. He sounds like a nightmare reading all this, but he's not too bad the rest of the time, apart from the odd tantrum. We don't have much problem with breakfast or lunch.

Any advice appreciated!

marylou242 Wed 20-Jul-11 14:44:46

I meant to say, it makes no difference whether or not he's tired. Also, I've tried giving him a snack when he gets up from his rest but this means he eats even less tea and wakes up hungry in the night.

BoysAreLikeDogs Wed 20-Jul-11 20:01:00

Could DH eat later after DS has had Daddy Time (bleurgh but you get my drift) and you give DS his main meal at lunchtime. This takes the pressure cooker situation away. (I feel a bit prickly-eyed at the idea that he should leave his daddy alone when he comes home from work, this is not a criticism)

Not all families achieve the so-say Holy Grail of eating together, we certainly don't (the children have tea at 5ish and DH and I have supper at 8pm-ish).

My other thought is jiggle lunch times and snack times - insert a snack time mid morning, lunch an hour later, a piece of fruit, milk/biscuit on awakening

Any use ?

BertieBotts Wed 20-Jul-11 20:05:40

5.30 is quite late, I tend to give DS his tea at around 5. Might this work for you? Hopefully it would then mean that he has finished by the time his dad gets home which means they can have some time together without it being a big distraction from food. Perhaps him eating so close to this time is also not helping as he's connecting food time with daddy coming home and getting excited about that.

Is he still in a highchair? Or a booster seat with straps? I'm struggling at the moment getting DS to sit still when eating because he's used to not being able to move about. Also I did get into a habit of letting him eat in front of a TV programme which isn't great, but it did work when I was getting completely desparate.

JarethTheGoblinKing Wed 20-Jul-11 20:14:47

Something small and non filling to raise his blood sugar a bit at 5ish, might help a bit. Some dried fruit or similar

marylou242 Wed 20-Jul-11 22:33:36

Thanks for these ideas, we'll give them a try over the next few days.

Boysarelikedogs - I agree, we find it upsetting to stop him playing with DH when he first gets home. DH is normally really involved and happy to play, but we just tried out of desperation to try to sort the problem out. It's not worked and we were uncomfortable with it which is why we are looking for other suggestions. Strangely, DH came home mid-tantrum tonight and decided to take DS upstairs when he got changed. 10 minutes later he'd calmed down after a bit of playing and ate his pasta without fussing. It might have been a one off but we'll try it again. It's difficult for me to do his main meal at lunchtime as we're normally out until about 12 so I wouldn't get much time to make it.

BertieBotts - I tried earlier tea a while ago but he refused to eat anything, I'm not sure why because I'm sure he's hungry at 5. We'll give it another go and see what happens. We still have the highchair in the kichen but he doesn't always want to go in it. Sometimes he'll just go in a normal chair but like you say it's a problem because he can get down.

Jareth - I'll also give a later tea a try and give him a snack at 5. Perhaps if he can have a bit of a play then we could all try eating about 6.15.

Fingers crossed something works!

BertieBotts Wed 20-Jul-11 22:51:06

The other way sounds good as well - let him have some uninterrupted-by-food time with DH when he first gets home, and then he has dinner. I know DS always eats less when something happens in the middle of the time he's supposed to be eating, if someone arrives or knocks on the door etc. Or if he's excited about something because I've told him someone is coming round etc. So I think taking this out of the equation and getting the exciting bit done when DH first gets home is the best idea.

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