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Being sent to psychologist for fussy eating - anyone had experience of this?

(9 Posts)
marykat2004 Tue 04-Oct-11 23:38:49

DD, now age 7, has always been a fussy eater. For school nursery, reception and year 1 I insisted she have school dinners so that she would try new foods, eat with other children, etc, even when she cried for a pack lunch.

Near the end of year 1 I got called up on her not eating her lunch at school. Her teacher sent me to see this assistant at the school who said we needed to go to some mental health center.

Every time we have had any 'help' over the years, it has always made me feel an even bigger failure. I'm really scared about this psychologist. My father-in-law just passed away, and DH is out of town for the week. I'm feeling really low any way, but that assistant at school today told me I have to see this psychologist on Friday. I feel singled out as a 'problem family'.

DD has packed lunches now, by the way, and at least she is eating. She has a 50/50 white/brown bread jam sandwich, chicken pieces, smoothie, fruit bar, and yogurt. There is no variety but at least she is eating. At home she has broccoli or carrots, and chicken nuggets or pizza. She has shreddies in milk for breakfast.

When i was growing up all we ate were hotdogs and hamburgers and it didn't kill us. My siblings and I all eat fruit and veg now, really healthy diets, nuts, seeds, fish, etc. Should it really be such a big deal if a child doesn't want to eat cous-cous or curry or other adult-themed Jamie Oliver dinners?

cory Wed 05-Oct-11 08:34:00

Otoh seeing a psychologist is not something that should be seen as a failure and you should be careful not to project your own childhood feelings onto your dd's situation- just in case she ever does need to see one. (dd does and is fine with it- I am sure that is because I don't have any hang-ups about it)

Otoh it does sound a bit as if the school is using the psychologist as a bit of a disciplinary measure rather than because your dd is desperately in need of help. Which seems like a waste of resources to me.

Her diet doesn't actually sound that bad, and if her behaviour is bothering the school you could always switch back to packed lunches to make things easier for them.

Still, if the appointment has been made I would go along with it, be very calm, explain the real situation to the psychologist and make it clear that you think your dd's problems are manageable by you as a family.

I have got dd discharged from a psychologist before by simply managing to show that we were coping as a family.

marykat2004 Wed 05-Oct-11 09:23:06

Yes, I think they are short of 'problem' families at DD's school and might be making a big deal of nothing. I put down the highest ranking local school as first choice, thinking we might not get in because it's so small and popular, but we got in. Most the children have 2 parents working and nannies, and many go on to private school after infants. We are the only family in DD's class who live on a council estate.

There are other children from the estate in other classes. One of my neighbours, a single mum, has started to feel looked down by the other mums. Another story entirely I guess.

I also grew up in the 'poor' family in a rich school, but am still grateful for having a good education, although I have never fit in socially anywhere. And when I started to have problems, my mother flat out refused to see any psychologist, instead opting for detentions and other forms of discipline - but that was when I was 14! Not 7. Isn't 7 awfully young to be branded as having problems?

eaglewings Wed 05-Oct-11 09:27:13

Having seen families where they have not had help be controlled by a preteen's food issues, I'd accept the referal and see what good advice they can give you

It's a sign of strength asking for advice not faliure

AnnaFalactic Wed 05-Oct-11 09:27:45

Is that the entire limit of what she eats? Does she ever try 'new' foods?

Speaking as an adult who is a very "fussy eater", I would really urge you to go ahead with the psychologist. It is so so difficult having such a limited diet. I don't know about your DD obviously, but for me, it is more than being fussy, it's a phobia, I cannot physically try new things, as much as I have come to wish that I can.

Socially,, it is awkward - there is usually only one thing on an entire menu that I can eat if we go out, I get people who don't 'get' it and think I'm just being silly who keep going on at me to try new stuff as they think I'm just being silly or awkward or childish.

I have had to overcome many issues with food in order to feed my own child a proper diet (Luckily through my hard work, DD will eat pretty much anything, but I had to overcome certain phobias with food in order for her to be like that eg I cannot stand pasta, particularly the texture - before DD I would not go anywhere near it, now I have built myself up to the point where I can touch it briefly!)

It has such a big impact on my everyday life. Before I wasn't so bothered, but now I find myself looking at the food on other people plates in restaurants, able to appreciate that it looks nice, thinking I would like to eat it, but not physically being able to sad

I wish my parents had done something about it when I was younger. It may feel like it is manageable and not a big deal at this stage, but as I have said, if you leave it as it is, it is likely to have a great impact on her as an adult.

Even things like here on mumsnet - adult fussy eaters are seen as silly and awkward and need to grow up and get over it - if a dinner party is being thrown, the don't invite the fussy eater, or don't cater specially for them as "they're an adult and should be able to eat like a 'normal' person". And then you get someone with that attitude who you end up having a meal with, you tell them you don't/can't eat certain things but get given them anyway, and then when it's left on your plate as you can't physically eat it, you get judgemental looks, sly comments and lectures about starving children in Africa who would be more 'grateful'
Sorry for rambling, it's just so so hard as an adult with a limited diet, not through choice, I really feel that if you deal with this now you will prevent a lot of problems for her in the future. Sorry if you're having a shit time at the moment, feeling low doesn't help with anything but please don't feel singled out as the problem family - it's really great that the school are helping with this and giving time and resources to help your DD.

marykat2004 Wed 05-Oct-11 10:01:17

She eats pasta but only with cheese, not sauce. She eats rice with popadums but not curry. Sometimes DD will request something like salmon - she did that on holiday - but when we went to visit someone a few weeks later and I suggested salmon as the only food everyone would eat (there were pescaterians so so meat, and DD won't eat things with sauce, and most vegetarian food has sauce), DD has a huge tantrum at the table in front of 10 people. It was truly awful and embarrassing. I then had to go out and buy her chicken nuggets. I can't stand to let her go hungry because she is very thin already.

Tantrums were a daily occurrence at the table until DH went into hospital and I couldn't deal with tantrums on my own. So she ate in front of the TV, the horrible forbidden TV meals.

After our summer of staying with normal families, we started eating together as a family but with DD getting to choose her meal before I cook. At least she eats and we have a fairly stress-free dinner.

DH is ill and we really have to minimise stress.

My sister was a fussy child, and also skinny, but is fine now, eats everything and is very athletic, still slim but fit, not sickly.

AnnaFalactic Wed 05-Oct-11 10:34:34

For all I know, she could turn out like your sister, fussy now, but grow to an adult with no issues............or it could go the other way and she could end up like me. There's no way of telling, which is why you need to at least make an attempt to deal with the situation now.

It doesn't sound like you've ever made any great effort to combat the food issues, preferring to just give in to her so that it is less stress for you. You seem in denial that this is even an issue that needs dealing with, and place a lot of importance on how you are percieved, rather than putting your DD first and helping her.

The tantrums could well be a result of a food phobia, when I am faced with trying something new, I physically cannot do it, get very stressed out, start gagging/wretching at the thought of it, hyperventilating and very panicy. I imagine this is the adult version of the "tantrum". Yes it is embarrassing for you, but it's also not very nice for her.

There are so many things that parents of "fussy" eaters try with their children before they even have a chance in hell of getting an appointment with a psychologist - and believe me, they go through a lot of stress, embarrasment and hard work for example, putting up with the tantrums dealing with it in order to try and help their child, because that's what parents are supposed to do. The fact that you have been offered a psych appt without even asking for one is like frigging gold dust to some parents - they would give their right arm for one, yet you're 'scared' and don't even want to take her?!

I'm sorry, but you are being incredibly selfish here, while I can appreciate you want life to be as stress free as possible, it doesn't always work like that. Yes, some 7 years olds have issues. If it was a behavioural or special needs issue that she needed help with, that the school had flagged up, would you deny her help for that aswell, because you don't want to be seen as the problem family, because it's too much for you to deal with?!

MmePamplemousse Wed 05-Oct-11 13:21:10

I think 7 is very, very young to be taking formal action about fussiness in eating.

My son's diet at that age was very similar in terms of variety and content. He is now 9 and I'd say that his eating habits are now perfectly normal amongst his peers.

Perhaps you could see the psychologist without your daughter in the first instance? That way you can discuss the extent of the problem without giving her attention for the behaviour? (I know that sounds harsh, and I don't mean to. A child-psychologist friend of mine informally advised me about my son's eating and his view was always to give absolutely no attention for the behaviours you want to discourage and lots and lots of praise for those you want to encourage. In other words: don't comment if the child refuses food, but equally don't offer preferred alternatives. If you can ever get the child to eat something new, however small a mouthful, go overboard with praise and cuddles.)

Good luck!!

marykat2004 Wed 05-Oct-11 17:52:05

@Anna - we did years of trying new foods. We had years of tantrums every night. DD has school dinners until this term. We only just gave up. She is 7 not 3.

As for stress avoidance, my DH has a heart condition. He is meant to have as stress-free life as possible. Perhaps the best thing for DD would be that he doesn't live with us, so I can confront her problems and deal with the stress of her fussiness. I'm not thinking of myself when I say we have to avoid stress, it's DH, because the more stress he has the shorter his life will be.

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