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Rules for the Dinner table?

(13 Posts)
cori Thu 17-Feb-05 21:48:41

My 3 year old DS has always been a fussy eater. We seem to be going through a bad patch at the moment. He eats no vegetables at all, we had some success late last year in introducing them but he has reverted and now when I try to get him eat them he gags, he has even made himself throw up on a couple occassions. Obviously I dont want to scar him by forcing him to eat veg so I have almost given up on this. Any other suggestions.? He has also practically given up on trying to feed himself with cutlery, even easy things like pasta. So we end up feeding him, this is a bad habit we are getting into. I often will put the food on his fork and then into his hand and then let him put it in his own mouth, but half the time he will take the food off the fork and eat it with his hands. How can I get him to start using cutlery again.?
The other question I have is when he absoutley refuses to eat anything should I let him leave the table to go off and play, or should I make him stay at the table whilst we finish our meal.?
Any advice appreciated

paolosgirl Thu 17-Feb-05 22:21:58

I'm probably stricter than most when it comes to eating, so I don't know how much this will help, but I really wouldn't carry on with feeding him yourself. It sounds as if mealtimes are turning into a bit of a control thing for him.

I'd simply tell him that you are not feeding him, because he is a big boy now, and that if he doesn't eat with the cutlery, then he gets down from the table - that it is his choice to make. Then very calmly take away the food - no big deal. You'll have a few mealtimes like that, but as long as you stay calm, he'll very quickly realise that you're not bending on the issue.

Re the veg - again, throwing up and gagging seems a bit like trying to get a reaction. I'd wait til you get the cutlery business sorted, then start with the easy things like carrot, sweetcorn, peas etc and have a tiny bit for him to eat, then build it up. Again, if he doesn't eat it the tiny bit, then no pudding (or whatever you have), no big deal. The thing is for him to try a bit, and give him the same thing for a number of nights to get used to the taste.

Sorry if this sounds a bit preachy - I'm not sure if I'm being any help at all, but good luck with whatever you do!

polly28 Thu 17-Feb-05 22:57:37

cori,sounds a real nightmare,I really feel for you.
How about making him sit on the "naughty step" if he won't behave at the table.I do this with my ds who is two and it works a treat.He has been on the step twice in all and now eats whatever we eat without a fuss .He does occassionaly want to leave the table after only eating a bit and I do allow him to get down ,more to avoid a ruined meal for the rest of us,but he is made to go into the sitting room away from the action.
As for the vegetables ,I would try and disguise them if poss in dishes such as mince or soups but I'm afraid I haven't any great ideas on this front,maybe someone else has been through this.I know I have a few friends whose kids of 11 years still won't eat veg!

He definately sounds like he is attention seeking with the gagging etc so the naughty step may work.Oh yeh and the age old "praise the good ignore the bad"

easier said than done I know.

Good luck

KBear Thu 17-Feb-05 23:00:34

I agree, don't feed him. My DS is 3 and now eats much more and stays at the table because after being all stressed out about it, we took to completely ignoring him. I put the plate of food in front of him with cutlery, everyone just tucks in and takes no notice of him. No reaction at all. It doesn't take long to twig that eating is good!

cori Fri 18-Feb-05 15:34:40

I think the 'refusing to feed himself' might have something to do with the childminder. I know her own 6 year old daughter wont feed herself, so he is probably picking up bad habits.
I will have to talk to her about it.

Polly, we dont have a naughty step ( live in a flat) The only alternative is to make him go sit on his bed, (or couch). I am worried about psychologically scaring the poor lad, by punishing him when he is being sick. I dont know if this issue is just aboout control or he just hates the vegetables so much. ( I remember my brother used to gag over peas)

Bribery doesnt work with our boy (dam). We dont usually have puddings any way. I suppose I could cut out his bedtime milk if he doesnt eat his dinner.

I will start with tackling the cutlery issue first. Will speak to childminder.

mrspink27 Fri 18-Feb-05 16:10:15

Hi Cori,sorry to hear mealtimes have been so stressful. I agree with KBear, you have to make the whole eating thing a non issue and not one of punishment etc.
with my dd1 it was a complete control thing and my dh and i realised that we were dancing through hoops to try and get her to eat. She has days when she'll eat loads and days when she eats enough to keep a flea alive! We have tried to make mealtimes a family affair, not easy i know, and then offer really small portions... and i mean small...she can always ask for more. nothing more disheartening if you are having an off day than to put a piled up plate in front of her, and then it does turn into a battle. And no snacking in between, if she does ask then its a piece of bread, fruit or a yoghurt. Have you tried any of the Annabel Karmel books? she gives really easy to prepare recipes that all the family can eat, and the best one is the vegetable hating vegetable sauce, where she makes a pasta sauce which is full of veg and just liquidised so you cant tell what you're eating. gradually you liquidise it less and less and hey presto!
granted that does sound a bit far fetched butit does work. I think i read somewhere you have to offer foods atleast 8 or 10 times before they were added to the childs repertoire. I think you have to keep offering and like i said not make a big deal out of it. As far as the cutlery goes I'd ignore that to. Just set the example and be prepared for a few fireworks. If our dd1 has finished eating then we make her sit with us until we have finished ( not hours though!) after all mealtimes arent just about eating they're about sharing info about our day and talking to each other.
A child wont starve themselves and if you keep that in mind it takes the pressure off you a bit. I wouldnt cut that evening milk out either, thats part of a whole different routine connected with bedtime and comfort and IMHO might interfere with sleeping patterns.
And do talk to the child minder, explain your concerns and ask her to be consistent with whatever approach you choose.
Hope this makes sense and it helps. Good luck

Ameriscot2005 Fri 18-Feb-05 16:16:03

I've never been one to feed my children - they've all been very good at foraging for food

What I find works best for us is to put the food that's on offer into serving dishes - I know it's more washing up - and then the child can select what they want to eat. Some meals a child is willing to eat veggies, other meals he's not, and it all balances out over the course of a week.

We have most success with traditional foods - meat & two veg where the food isn't mixed together.

cori Fri 18-Feb-05 16:41:38

His evening milk is part of his bedtime routine, however I do feel that he knows he will have another oppurtunity to satisfy his hunger even if he chooses not to eat at dinner time.

The one veg he will eat is cauliflower cheese. Whenever we have had any success with veg, is when it is mixed into something else so the taste is disguised.
I might give the serving dishes a go, makign the meal more interactive.

What is the consensus about letting him leave the table if he is not going to eat at all, make him stay or let him go?

polly28 Fri 18-Feb-05 22:58:13

i would let him go if he has eaten something.That way he is being rewarded for eating .But don't lavish attention on him while you are still at the table,make the table the fun place to be.

God isn't parenthood a psychological minefield!

You can still use a naughty step by putting a little stool in a corner and making him sit on it if he is naughty,this seems to work with some kids better than others though

Rarrie Sat 19-Feb-05 19:07:37

At a School I know near here, the dinner ladies were reported to have pureed the veg and hidden them in the other foods like mash. The kids never knew! Maybe something devious like that might work to help avoid the battles?

Catan Sun 20-Feb-05 19:00:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cori Sun 20-Feb-05 19:08:29

Never thought about his Tonsils. Am going to take him to the Health Visitor tomorow so may mention it.
Success today at Lunch. No veg eaten , but did feed himself.

cupcakes Sun 20-Feb-05 19:17:59

As far as staying at the table goes I would make him wait until everyone has finished. If he doesn't want to eat that's up to him but he needs to learn good manners. And he may well start picking at his food if he no longer has the option of going off to play with his toys (which is probably always going to be more attractive than eating!).
We had major problems with ds's eating for years as a toddler. Just before he started school he finally started to relent and try new things.
My big rules at the table are:
If you don't want to eat it that's ok - just do not fuss or moan about what you are given.
No getting down till everyone has finished
No pudding till everyone has finished their first course
No pudding at all unless a reasonable amount of food has been consumed.
Am a bit flexible on cutlery at the moment as I am still just relieved that he is eating. He can use his cutlery just sometimes needs reminding to do so.
And trying something new will reap lots of praise, even if he doesn't like it and doesn't want any more.

I always make sure they have a certain amount of food that I know they do like - at least then they are enthusiastic about coming to the table. And I am flexible with which veg they eat: dd likes cooked carrots and peas so she generally has those whilst for ds I do raw carrots and broccoli.
I try to talk about anything other than food whilst we're at the table. Going on at them to eat up is really tedious and draining for everyone. And it keeps the power with them!
Good luck!

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