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DD's behaviour at the table

(15 Posts)
Earlybird Mon 07-Feb-05 14:10:07

Am at my wit's end about dd's bad eating habits. She will be 4 in a few weeks, so is old enough to know better. She has to be told to eat most every bite, told to chew with her mouth closed a dozen times a meal, and is very reluctant to try anything new. While at the table she squirms, delays and dawdles endlessly. We no longer have the telly on if we're at the table. I have now told her that after 20 minutes, I will leave the table and she will sit and finish her meal on her own (in case it's all motivated by attention seeking).

She has a friend over at the moment. The friend finished lunch 30 mins ago, and dd is just now finished. The easy thing would have been to let her get down, and miss out on yet another meal. It winds me up no end. Don't want to make meal time unpleasant for either of us, and also don't want to sow the seeds of an eating disorder. By the way, she has no problem eating sweets with great efficiency and speed. Help!

noddyholder Mon 07-Feb-05 14:11:59

my ds has always been like this and it drives us mad!Still doing it and he's 10 he has manners etc but takes forever and I am beginning to think he doesn't really like food.Dp stopped all tv etc at mealtimes and no difference

misspastry Mon 07-Feb-05 14:16:25

i think all kids are receptive at meal times to attentiiojn that this behaviour gets, my ds is a bugger at breakfast, i htnk i f you cn really try to ignore and just carry n with your meal and carry on other conversatins with them other than telling them to eat, humour is aso great, and i am a great believer in all meals being at the table and definatley no tv, did you see wife swap the other week, where they dindn't even have a table, the poor kids ate on the kitchen floor,

Miaou Mon 07-Feb-05 14:47:16

My dds are also appalling at eating - and are now 7 and 6! Even now we frequently have to tell them to take a bite, and then chew, otherwise they would just sit there with the food in their mouths!!! (yuk!). They are completely normal, intelligent kids, just seem to have very little interest in eating and very small appetites. We have got to the point now where dh and I will start them off first, eat with them, then leave them to it while they carry on (still supervising in the same room though). We find that otherwise we just get too wound up about it.

They have just moved to a school where they have school meals (used to have to take packed lunches), and have come home each day very proudly telling us how they both managed to finish their lunches at the same time as everyone else did, so the message is obviously getting through on some level, albeit frustratingly slow!

Earlybird, IME it may just be something that you have to accept - like you I'm very wary of attaching emotion to food because of the possibility of future eating disorders, so we found (after trying many different solutions) that the only way was to accept it and work round it. HTH.

sleepytinkerbell Mon 07-Feb-05 17:44:17

wow my ds is almost 5 and exactly the same i have been embarrassed and a bit ashamed by his (and my incessant nagging of him) at the table. It is great to know that he is not so odd nor is out situation but i do agree the more i relax and ignore the better behaved and more he eats without constantly been asked, i do think that it is tied up with the attention he gets!!! Does anyone have any good ideas on how to stop the vicious circle

Earlybird Mon 07-Feb-05 20:26:51

We have her friends over for playdates, or go to someone else's house, and the other children seem to sit down and get on with eating. No big deal. No prompting, nagging or encouragement from mum. DD eats enough to take the edge off, and then completely loses interest. Where have I gone wrong, and can I do anything to improve the situation?

motherinferior Mon 07-Feb-05 20:34:01

I think Cha's daughter is very similar - she's posted before about it. Do a check to see? Another RL friend of mine has a similar situation but, sadly, no solutions to it. It drives her mad too.

Earlybird Mon 07-Feb-05 20:56:56

motherinferior - thanks for the tip. I searched archives and found Cha's relevant threads. Also found that I had posted on several of them. It is reassuring to know that others experience this too, but so hard to know how to address it when nothing seems to be working!

whoopsie Mon 07-Feb-05 21:14:10

I know EXACTLY how you feel!!!!

I look after 2 children ages 4 and 2 and meal times are like feeding time at the zoo. Honest its awful!
And its a classic case of monkey see monkey do. They get up, they get down, they accidently(!!!! ) drop their cutley. They spill their drinks. They drop their food! I could go on.
No amount of nagging, begging, warning or threatening gets them to do any better. So now 2 weeks ago me and their mum devised these rules;

They get 30 mins to eat their dinner. After this time it is just removed from the table without comment. They are obviously not going to eat it , and its cold anyway.

There is no chivvying along , no asking, begging them to eat it. If they complain they dont like it , we just respond with 'try your best'.

Unacceptable behaviour , such as throwing food is responded to with removal from the table.

We have tried the 'no dinner no pudding' route and it doesnt work - they just wont eat. So they always get pudding - fruit. If they eat up a satisfactory amount , they get to choose their pudding.

We have put less on their plate so its easier for them to finish it all and then they have the feeling of being proud of themselves that they ate it all.

We try to put one thing on their plate we know they love ,one thing they thinks ok and one they usually refuse.

Lots of praise when they do finish a meal.

We've had great results - tea - with pudding is usually over in 30 mins! Now they now theres no audience and they dont get any reaction from us at mealtimes, they eat up. The game's no fun with no one to play.

I hope this helps

Earlybird Tue 08-Feb-05 11:32:55

whoopsie - thanks for sharing your experience and for your practical suggestions. Hoping that either we can exit this phase soon......or that I learn not to get so wound up!

alison222 Tue 08-Feb-05 17:51:12

Whoopsie, if they are still hungry and you have removed them from the table, are they allowed to come back when they have apologised?
I'm very tempted to try this (Yet again) with my DS (4) as he eats but very slowly - usually because he is far too busy talking,singing or generally entertaining everyone. He likes his food cold anyway.

LittleMissShy Tue 08-Feb-05 18:07:51

don't want to rock the boat but isn't everyone different when it comes to food??

I'm married to a chef who loves food, my ds 3 1/2 loves food and eats almost everything (he does go through phases where he sometimes doesn't eat very much) whereas I can take it or leave it and I'm almost 40!!!

Somebody once made a comment to me that she loves to eat whereas her other half eats to live (he eats because he has to in order to survive)

this probably isn't much help and my eating habits have changed since having ds

ElectricBlue Tue 08-Feb-05 18:48:13

My ds has been like this ever since we lived abroad with relatives for many months who gave him too many sugary treats against my wishes (and behind my back!). He learned to love sweets and resist savory things. He is 6 now. I've tried all sorts of things over the years, treats, rewards, stars, stickers, etc - with no great result really until lately. I realised that mealtimes were getting very tense and had to be lightened up otherwise there'd always be an assocation between meals and moods.

Recently we bought junior scrabble. I don't play the actual scrabble with him yet, but I give him a number of tiles on the table next to him and ask him to spell a specific word by unscrambling it. It helps his spelling, he doesn't have to talk, he loves it and he's brilliant at it! I realise now, he found it monotonous sitting there doing nothing except eating - he wanted to do something. I give him loads of praise and I won't give him another word to puzzle out unless he takes 3 more mouthfuls on the trot. This always works!

He doesn't realise it's an educational thing - he thinks its a brilliant game and he loves all the praise (praise for eating up too). His sightreading is racing ahead. Some of you might not think it's such a good thing to do at mealtimes, but now we have so much fun - I never get exasperated anymore and he even gets the box out for me!

whoopsie Tue 08-Feb-05 19:09:17

yes when they have apologised they are allowed back up to finish the meal. Obviously we cant keep gettting them down, so if they have got down once already, and their behaviour is still unacceptable, their dinner is taken away regardless of whether the 30 mins is up. They are then offered fruit for pudding.
I know that they are getting what they want by taking their tea away, as they dont want it anyway, but this route is about self preservation - the meal obviously isnt going well , theyre not going to eat it , so lets get it over with as quick as poss.
HOpe this helps.

alison222 Fri 11-Feb-05 14:59:23

Just got a timer to put on the table. DS is starting to realise I mean it. We did this once bafore and it worked but then things slipped gradually back to how they had been. He always wants me to feed him when he can't be bothered too, because I still help DD(2). she eats better than him to be honest. But he is quite thin and prone to getting really ratty if not kepts topped up with food, hence my reluctance to remove food if its not eaten. BTW he is fairly thin too.

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