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Help! DD just had a huge tantrum over food- I feel like a nervous wreck (long!)

(46 Posts)
RinkyDinkyPinky Thu 05-Feb-09 14:22:11

DD1 has just had a huge tantrum which lasted an hour. I cooked lunch for DD1 and I- pasta and red peppers with cheese and she picked out the pasta/ cheese and refused the peppers. I suggested that she try some pepper and she cried (I'm sure she's eaten red pepper before) so I said that there would be no desert (little cakes we cooked yesterday) until she'd had some pepper.
She cried more and more and started to scream. I just got on with cleaning the kitchen and calmly reminded her that she just needed to try some and that I love her very much and I want her to be healthy and strong etc. She continued to cry/ scream for nearly an hour and I tried to keep calm and kept reassuring her that I love her and it's ok, but I wanted her to try the pepper.
In the end I threw the little cakes in the bin and said that I was very disappointed that she wouldn't try the pepper. She just kept on crying and I felt so worn out that I shouted at her. Which of course made her cry more, so I hugged her and tried to explain why it's so important to me and that I love her very much etc. But maybe that was too much because she crawled onto the kitchen floor and sobbed and then closed her eyes as if she wanted to sleep/ pass out.
I picked her up and took her to her cot and gave her a big hug and told her that it's all ok.

I am a trembling wreck now and on the verge of tears myself

The tantrum was about an hour long (she has v few tantrums- not used to this at all)
I don't want DD1 to distrust me (because I lost my temper/ shouted)
I do want her to eat properly/ try foods (she's tried a few times in the last week to avoid eating her veg, but has always eaten it when she sees that I'm serious and that she won't get a yoghurt unless she finishes her peas etc.)
I don't want to turn food into a battle ground

What should I have done differently?

TIA
I may not be able to answer posts straight away as DD2 is waking up now...

RinkyDinkyPinky Thu 05-Feb-09 14:24:53

Sorry- DD1 is 2yr, 4months (DD2 is 7 months)

ilove Thu 05-Feb-09 14:26:48

She is far too young to sit there for an hour over a piece of pepper!

You will give her a huge complex about food if you carry on this way with mealtimes.

Habbibu Thu 05-Feb-09 14:28:54

Oh, it's hard, isn't it? And after it's all over all you can think is Shit - handled that badly...

From my own point of view, I wouldn't make cakes/pudding/treats contingent on eating anything else, as you're setting up the pepper as something to be endured, got through, etc. I think you maybe have to look at the trying veg as a long-term haul, rather than something you can get her to do at one meal.

How old is she? dd (2.5) is not too fussy (yet!) - days where she's a bit awkward she can respond to me just nicking stuff off her plate, and she'll nick stuff off mine (even though we have the same thing). Keep offering the same dish, show her how much you're enjoying it, talk about how things taste, how they feel, what colour they are, etc - try to develop a general enthusiasm for food, rather than focussing on "eating veg".

I didn't like cooked veg as a child, and so ate raw veg from the sink as mum was washing and chopping it - win-win for both of us at the time.

Were the peppers cooked, btw? I hate raw peppers...

Habbibu Thu 05-Feb-09 14:30:08

Agree with ilove - if it's not resolved after 5-10 mins, eat yours cheerfully, shrug your shoulders, smile, say "another day, then", and change the subject. And keep serving them up...

TheProvincialLady Thu 05-Feb-09 14:31:00

Sorry but you did turn it into a big battle. Personally I don't agree with witholding pudding as punishment for not eating but if you are going to do it, you can't make a drama out of throwing cakes away that the child has madesad Encouragement is fine but 'making' children eat things does set up these situations IMO. And some of what you said verges on emotional blackmail - I know that's not at all what you meant but honestly, what pressure for both of you just over some pepper!

I think I would have left it after she cried at your suggestion and just offered peppers next time, and at other times, without fuss. Or do what I do with things DS isn't keen on and puree it into the dish so he learns to like the flavour.

1sadmummy Thu 05-Feb-09 14:31:31

tbh, and I am not a perfect shining example of motherhood as you will see from the other thread, I would have let it go. It can take several attempts for a child to try a new food and even then they may never like it, and it's best not to create lots of tension around meals. My dc (6 & 4 ) have refused certain foods and I've never pushed it - they now eat just about anything and sometimes, especially if they see me eating something, they will eat a food they had previously refused. She is too young to understand your motives and meals are best kept fun. That said, I do remember how hard and tiring it is at the stage yours are at so you have my every sympathy.

HTH

TheProvincialLady Thu 05-Feb-09 14:32:54

Oh I seem to have a talent for putting things badly today. Didn't mean to sound so judgey, sorrysad Am far from perfect myself!

ilove Thu 05-Feb-09 14:35:42

I hide veg in everything...blended home made pasta sauces contain allsorts, I even put finely chopped spinach in chocolate cake.

It is NEVER, EVER worth causing such a battle over food.

Throwing away her cakes was really mean

jeanjeannie Thu 05-Feb-09 14:50:01

My DD1 is 2yr3mth and exactly the same. She went from eating everything to virtually nothing about 6 mths ago after a bad bout of flu. Yes, it's frustrating but I'm working on the premise that kids won't starve themselves.

I'm all for hiding food like ilove - it's amazing the amount of carrots and courgettes that'll go into a tomato sauce grin I've even made courgette muffins - they're fab!!

Try to work on what she will eat and make food around those ingredients. For example - my DD1 will eat pasta with tomato sauce - so now I do small bits of puff pastry (pizza style)with the same sauce and cheese topping - almost the same ingredients but it looks very different. She likes a crunchy texture so I do bubble and squeak cakes and that's one way of getting veg in her! It's making her more adventurous - without taking huge steps!

DOn't panic - once she gets a bit older and sees her friends starting to eat other things she won't be able to hold herself back! Well, that's what i'm hoping. Don't panic - it's not worth it smile

RinkyDinkyPinky Thu 05-Feb-09 14:50:13

Yes, I do feel like I handled it all really badly.

I so despeartely want my DDs to have healthy lives. I lost both my parents to cancer as a kid and it frightens me so much.

I know i got it wrong which is why I'm posting here and I do appreciate advice becuse I really don't want to make this kind of mistake again.

Mimia Thu 05-Feb-09 14:54:30

That was a bit battle over a little bit of red pepper, but I can understand how these things come about. You tried to encourage her to try it because you want her to eat lots of different foods that are good for her by saying that she couldn't have her cakes until she had, it sounds like you didn't realise it was going to turn into such a big thing for her and then you end up in the situation where you have said it and you don't want to back down in case said toddler then thinks they can get their own way and a battle of wills results.

Give her a hug, make some more cakes with her or give her one if you have any left and put it down to experience. Keep offering veg, hide veg (butternut squash muffins are fab, my DD still thinks they are cakes) and encourage, be a good role model and keep being a fab mum smile

Mimia Thu 05-Feb-09 14:54:30

That was a bit battle over a little bit of red pepper, but I can understand how these things come about. You tried to encourage her to try it because you want her to eat lots of different foods that are good for her by saying that she couldn't have her cakes until she had, it sounds like you didn't realise it was going to turn into such a big thing for her and then you end up in the situation where you have said it and you don't want to back down in case said toddler then thinks they can get their own way and a battle of wills results.

Give her a hug, make some more cakes with her or give her one if you have any left and put it down to experience. Keep offering veg, hide veg (butternut squash muffins are fab, my DD still thinks they are cakes) and encourage, be a good role model and keep being a fab mum smile

Habbibu Thu 05-Feb-09 14:55:19

Oh, you poor soul. I'm so sorry. I can see now why it stresses you so much. You are going to have to find a way of putting this anxiety to one side, though, as it will colour how you deal with her.

Look - when she gets up, do something fun with her, have a lovely evening and bedtime, and put lunchtime behind you. In a couple of days, present her with something else with peppers in, eat it yourself with enthusiasm, talk about the nice bright red colour, steal bits from her bowl and make her laugh. Focus on mealtimes being lots of fun, for now, and let the rest come slowly. It will not hurt her just now not to eat all veg, though I absolutely understand that that's very hard for you to accept, given your situation.

And keep posting for support - you'll get lots of help and advice here. And shoulders to cry on for the days when everything goes wrong!

Mimia Thu 05-Feb-09 14:55:29

oops!

jeanjeannie Thu 05-Feb-09 14:56:47

Awww bless you - I can totally appreciate how frustrating it is.

Try her on stuff you don't mind eating yourself if she won't touch it. I did really thin veg crisps in the oven the other day - loads of root veg about at the moment. Thought I'd end up having the lot - fat chance as they genuinely looked like crips and she actually liked them!

We also got some small bear-shaped vitamin gums -just in case she wasn't getting enough from food. Makes us feel a little safer. BTW I've also got a DD2 (8 mths) and I don't want her to see too many tantrums over food - so that's another reason to just say 'c'est la vie' and take small steps smile

Habbibu Thu 05-Feb-09 14:57:50

Get her involved in cooking - give her a table knife to "chop" mushrooms and courgettes, etc, and let her eat raw veg in preparation. Get her to choose veg when you're shopping, and discuss what you might cook with her. None of this means that she'll necessarily eat pepper (!), but it does build up an enthusiasm for cooking and eating fresh food, and that has real long-term health benefits.

Habbibu Thu 05-Feb-09 14:59:09

jeanjeannie - can you do those with swede and parsnip? We keep getting so much swede in our veg box it's making my brain hurt. How do you do it?

RinkyDinkyPinky Thu 05-Feb-09 15:01:21

Mimia- It's true I didn't see it coming- especially after DD insisted on holding the pepper in her pram all the way home from the supermarket, and stood on a chair in the kitchen to "help" me chop it up and cook it.

That's not excusing my mistakes but I'm not used tantrums- we always seem to resolve things by gentle explanation.

Mimia Thu 05-Feb-09 15:01:45

Another thing I have just thought of that DD 2.7 and her friends enjoy when they come for lunch is doing what we call a picnic lunch. We usually have some hummous and some tzaziki for dipping, carrot, cucumber, pepper and courgette sticks, baby tomatoes and mushrooms, breadsticks, apple slices and grapes, a little selection of cheese bits, olives and teeny toast triangles. Adults joining in is compulsory and they have a great time and generally eat quite a variety because it is not on the plate in front of them they get to choose.

Habbibu Thu 05-Feb-09 15:03:06

Ah. dd just refused the whole omelette we made together at lunchtime. They do rather lull you into a false sense of security, don't they?

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 05-Feb-09 15:04:28

Maybe I am making a rod for own back but my DD is the same age and doesn't like peppers, she spits them out, I just accept she doesn't like them and give her other stuff she does like. She actually eats pretty well. If she refuses food it is because she is not hungry usually. I hope that is because I haven't made it a battle.

I do also believe that a lot of tantrums can be avoided by not engaging in battles of wills with your child (although I hope my DD is not spoilt) if it isn't something dangerous to them.

Just MHO though! smile

Mimia Thu 05-Feb-09 15:04:35

Habbibu's idea is good too, I get DD involved in cutting up the veg for dinner etc and I always joke and say now don't you eat any, its for dinner! That always makes her eat some smile

Your DD sounds like mine in temperament. She is not prone to tantrums, you cannot see them coming but when they come they are huge and usually over something I didn't even realise there was a problem with!

tomate Thu 05-Feb-09 15:04:46

I relate to this - had ds (3.5)on naughty step once because he wouldn't eat the apple in his pudding (he usually loves it) and then felt like crying because I had totally over-reacted. If it happened again I would let it be. We all learn from our mistakes and all that!

It's one of those 'pick your battles' situations and I am terrible at dropping a fight when it's not worth it.

I agree with the others over hiding veg - whizzing sauces up so they can detect the things they don't want to try. DS turns down all fruit apart from bananas (except on that occasion) and apples and just says 'I don't like it' so I'm afraid I've pretty much given up on trying to get him to eat others for now. I always offer but he always refuses so I concentrate on veg instead, because it's a waste of time and fruit otherwise!

JiminyCricket Thu 05-Feb-09 15:06:47

agree with other posts - and have been there too, in the 'handled that wrong' stakes - just wanted to add, that tantrums might get worse if you try to explain or make it better - explain once, then ignore, i would.Maybe she was having a bad day/not feeling that great. Kids pick battles over food because it pushes our buttons. These days I try to go more for praise but then mine drive me mad not eating stuff I know they like and they are pretty good eaters. We do claps/stickers/pasta in treat jar etc for trying veg (on and off, not obsessed with it all the time..), so its more a fun thing than a 'you must thing' and we act all amazed and thrilled when they do eat their veg, oh dear, sounds silly but they like it

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