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Mealtime behaviour - advice and support please

(9 Posts)
blankiesandunicorns Wed 21-Dec-16 19:08:16

Hi all,

My post is about my 3.5 year old DD and her evening meal. She is pretty good generally with food, eats lots of fruit, veg etc, although doesn't like trying new things and is quite particular about certain foods (just normal for her age I think).

My issue is with the evening meal which we have about 5pm. She can be in a wonderful mood, but when we get at the table it changes. Attention seeking behaviour, immediately attempts to bargain about which bits she is going to and not going to eat and eventually cries and tantrums. It's got to the point now where even her favourite meals dont guarantee a stress free mealtime.

Iv tried insisting she's eats and stays at the table til she's done, taking her away from the table and up to her room, punishments such as no tv, dessert etc after tea. Tonight I ignored the behaviour completely and took her plate away which she hated. But generally, nothing bothers her and she's quite happy to go to bed with no tea as early at 6pm.

Generally she is well behaved, good manners etc and there are no other issues. It's just teatime at the table and after months of thinking it was a phase I'm trying to tackle it head on. Also, I'm a single mum and although she sees her dad I can't rely on support from him. She has always been a very headstrong little one, almost like a teenager in a 3 year olds body, so when I try to punish he I get 'I don't care mummy I don't want tv/toys/dessert anyway'

Any experiences anyone would like to share and advice would be much appreciated. Thanks

LapinR0se Wed 21-Dec-16 19:13:00

She just sounds really tired by tea time. Could you do a heart breakfast and lunch, healthy snack at 3 and just make her a little sandwich and cup of milk before bed?

blankiesandunicorns Wed 21-Dec-16 20:25:41

Thanks for your reply. I thought that to begin with, but I don't think it's down to tiredness as this happens even on days when she isn't at nursery and has had a nap. Her mood switches back to normal as soon as tea is cleared away

SpeakNoWords Wed 21-Dec-16 23:14:33

I would just be very non-committal and neutral. Don't get into any discussion about what she's eating or not. Just reply with "oh ok" if she says she's not eating x/y/z, or "I don't mind what you eat" if she tries to bargain. Then get on with eating your food and talk about other thing. After a reasonable amount of time, tell her you're going to clear away in 5 mins, and then do so. If you're doing a pudding then give it irrespective of what she's eaten, don't make it a special prize for having eaten the main meal.

Don't threaten or cajole or punish. Just offer the food and then clear away. It takes all the emotion, attention and control out of the situation. She'll soon learn there's no extra attention or control to be got out of the situation ant she'll eat to her appetite.

blankiesandunicorns Thu 22-Dec-16 09:35:31

Thankyou speaksnowords that's an interesting approach and I kind of tried that last night but maybe still gave her too much negative attention over it.

Am I expecting too much for a 3.5 yo yo sit at the table and eat well behaved?

Astro55 Thu 22-Dec-16 09:39:40

I agree - give her her dinner - she'll either eat it or not

Same with pudding

Her 'punishment' is a natural one of hunger

Do not put any other consequences on that - she'll associate punishment with food

Keep doing the job committal stance for the time being

Do you sit and eat yours with her?

Is she in a chair or high chair?

Special plate or cup?

LieInRequired Thu 22-Dec-16 09:52:32

I have very similar with DD (4). It is frustrating because I know she sits nicely at nursery and eats whatever is provided. At home she wants to sit on my lap, then wants to go and play and expects her food to magically reappear whenever she decides she wants it.

As suggested by speaknowords, I am trying to take the drama out of mealtimes. I am sure it is all about attention. She gets worse if I am talking to my other DD. So I ignore a lot of the bad behaviour, praise the good bits and let her know clearly when food will no longer be available.

blankiesandunicorns Thu 22-Dec-16 12:09:49

See what you mean about associating food with punishment astro55. Thanks for all your replies.

I eat at the table with her, always have done and she sits on a normal chair from a children's sized plate

It's frustrating isn't it, I know she eats well at nursery too. It's like any attention is good, she even says to other people 'I was naughty with my tea wasn't I mummy' confused

Astro55 Thu 22-Dec-16 15:37:16

Have you tried anything fun at the table - to take the pressure away?

Eye spy or a game? Maybe you ask her some fun or silly questions?

Ignore any talk of eating or not eating - missing a meal won't do her any real harm and it's short term

She'll forget she played up in a week -

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