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Are these reasonable expectations for a 3-yr-old at the supper table?

(18 Posts)
thatsnotmybelly Mon 17-Aug-09 19:01:13

I would like her to come to the table.
I would like her not to be naked.
I would like her not to shout yuck before she even knows what we're having.
Actually, I would like her not to shout yuck at all.
I would like her to sit on her chair.
I would like her not to lean and lounge all across the table.
I would like her not to keep getting down.
I would like her to be relatively pleasant company for about 10 / 15 minutes.

She does not have to eat anything (although obviously it is great if she does and I heap praise upon her if she tries something).
She gets pudding whether or not she has eaten the main course.

I think all of the above is reasonable. We are calm and consistant about it, but MY GOD it's a battle. Makes me wonder if we're expecting too much?

I really am relaxed about meal times and I don't feel inclined to battle. As far as I'm concerned my job is to provide her with nutritious food and we sit down as a family to eat it. Whether or not she actually eats anything is her lookout.

Why is she being such a ratbag about mealtimes? <sob> <wail>

Mealtimes are nice family time for chatting about our day and eating things I have cooked that I know everyone likes. [delusional emoticon]

The only things I do get cross about are if she does silly smearing of food everywhere, if she throws food on the floor, or if she grabs food off other people's plates or spits things out for effect or is generally deliberately obnoxious. Is it even usual to still be dealing with these sorts of behaviours at 3?

What do you think?

colditz Mon 17-Aug-09 19:06:04

Perfectly normal for them to want to do that, perfectly normal and acceptable for you to try to stop them!

waitingforbedtime Mon 17-Aug-09 19:07:36

what colditz said. Also, you are not alone!

TheGreatScootini Mon 17-Aug-09 19:14:09

Certainly you are not alone.My 3 year old has eaten nothing but bread and ham for aprox 3 days, turninf her nose up at Lasagne,fish pie and even ruddy scrambled eggs, all lovingly prepared from scratch by moi and has variously done all the things on your list.She is now being copied by my 2 year old.
Repeat after me 'this too will pass, this too will pass'grin

fruitstick Mon 17-Aug-09 19:21:26

This makes me feel better that my 3 year old can't eat rice o couscous without getting half of it on the floor.

But it does pass. Yesterday he asked me if he could get down from the table. shock

I nearly fell off my chair grin

thatsnotmybelly Mon 17-Aug-09 19:24:55


So the Mumsnet diagnosis is that I am a parent to a 3-yr-old?


This too shall pass. I am not alone. This too shall pass. I am not alone....

meep Mon 17-Aug-09 19:25:56

having just put my 2.3 yo in bed after the great nightly food battle you have my sympathy.

She's not been naked yet but screams, crie,s shouts "no", shouts "yuck", wrenches her bib off and will take herself off to sit in the hall rather than eat her tea (I tried it once as a naughty punishment which completely backfired grin)!

My lovingly home cooked pasta and veg was spat out. Mr Sainsburys cottage pie (I know I shouldn't give her something different) was eaten

And I thought it might be better when she reached 3.........

..........and breathe.............

UniS Mon 17-Aug-09 21:09:28

all reasonable wishes, but maybe don;t tackle them all at once...

Not all 3 yr olds are like it all the time, but a dare say most of them do some of it some of the time.

I think we had 4 of those behaviours tonight, and it was a good family mealtime.

We have chosen to use pudding as an optional extra only for those who eat enough veg and carbohydrate. Amazing how quick a 3 yr old will eat his 10 peas if there a yoghurt on offer. ( we started with 3 peas with a meal, now up to 10. If they are frozen and served as a snack he will eat LOTS, he likes peas. )

PinkyRed Mon 17-Aug-09 21:18:06

Glad to hear we're not alone in this.

I seem to spend most mealtimes repeating 'Bottom on the chair!'

Our rule on pudding is that you only have pudding if your tummy is still hungry after the main course, and if you're not hungry for pasta, then you're not hungry for ice cream (this is another phrase I find myself repeating over and over)

danthe4th Mon 17-Aug-09 21:27:48

I don't do a family mealtime every night I just think its not worth it with young children. I suppose we do 3/4 out of 7 the rest I feed them earlier and we eat later when they are all in bed. The older children are fine but the 4 year old can not sit still is up and down like a yoyo, must go to the toilet 3 times during the meal etc. On the nights they eat on their own I do easy food that they can eat quickly, pasta bake, shepherds pie with the veg in it. They seem to eat better around 4.30/5pm but its too early for me.Tonight they had hot dogs and they ate the lot, I try to make healthy versions of the food they like, my own chicken nuggets with potato wedges and because they can eat with their fingers they just seem to get on so much better.Try something different and see how you get on.

idontbelieveitifitsinthemail Mon 17-Aug-09 21:35:47

sounds normal to me. My 3 year old is pretty good in that she will eat most things but we get at least one of the behaviours you describe at every mealgrin.

chichichien Mon 17-Aug-09 21:43:34

You have a lot of items on your wishlist for a 3 year old. I'd pick two to focus on. Or one

Sidge Mon 17-Aug-09 21:45:27

My very nearly 3 year old does most of the things on your list hmm

She prefers to be naked.
She would prefer to eat in the lounge sitting on the floor whilst the rest of us are at the table in the dining room. (Don't know where she gets the idea that this is going to happen, we always eat at the table).
If she does come to the table she lasts about 48 nanoseconds before legging off.

We reached a significant milestone yesterday at Sunday dinner when we completely ignored her, moved her dinner back into the kitchen out of her sight and reach then all sat down and tucked in to pur roast beef. After she got a good ignoring for 5 minutes she slunk back to the table and scoffed the lot grin

BiscuitStuffer Mon 17-Aug-09 21:51:13

- We generally don't have pudding but if we do it's just fruit and / or greek yoghurt

- any prolonged messing and the yoghurt / fruit stops happening for a couple of nights without any discussion - it's just 'oh we don't have any tonight darling, sorry, this is all we have for dinner tonight'...

-We have fruit & veg sticks for snacks - free access to at all times.

- This is dinner, you don't have to eat it but you must behave if you're staying at the table or go away and play - I don't care which.

- Are you sure you've finished dinner because it's about to go in the bin...and it does. (only happens a couple of times!)

- You don't smear food everywhere/spit it out etc and if you do it gets taken away. immediately, with no warnings.

vinblanc Mon 17-Aug-09 21:53:09

LOL about not coming to the table naked!

I think we have probably been fairly lucky in that they have all tended to sit down for at least 10 minutes when we will let them get down.

I also zone out any mentions of yuck. It does go on, but I can never remember which child likes carrots and which doesn't, so I just ignore.

When ours were little, we had most success with putting all the food in serving dishes in the middle of the table and let them choose. I know it is a pest for washing up, but on the other hand, it does make use of the wedding china. I find that when little ones get to choose, they choose more than you would think. I would also steadfastly put the uneaten (unchosen) food into storage containers so that I was not totally demoralised by the waste of effort.

I think you also need to be reassured that they won't starve themselves or end up with a deficiency disease. If you were to keep a diary over, say, 2 months, you will find that they do eat a balance diet, but just not in each day.

mathanxiety Tue 18-Aug-09 03:48:44

BiscuitStuffer, I like your moxie. I am seriously outnumbered by my DCs and I realised that unless I took control of the dinner thing it would dissolve into the chimpanzees' tea party and I would never eat peacefully again. And I would end up cooking something separate for each one. I followed your plan of campaign, pretty much. Plus 'catching them being good' and complimenting good behaviour. I also have the DCs help out with setting the table every day -- each one has their own job, such as forks, knives, plates, glasses, so dinner time is understood to be a team effort, not just an opportunity for the attention hog to put on a show. Also, I ask them all to do something to help me prepare dinner, even if it's just handing me the wooden spoon or fetching an ingredient from the fridge. As they get older they will have more to do with the actual cooking. It's just too easy for someone to flounce in naked when everything is ready and make a circus out of something you work hard at getting together. Also, when you're done, you bring your plate and anything else you used to the kitchen sink. And then you leave the other diners in peace until dessert, which is served when everyone has finished dinner and the table is cleared. DCs also help set out dessert bowls, etc. I like to have a bit if sanity at least at dinner, so the team approach appealed to me since I didn't have to spend my whole time yelling at people who didn't appreciate the amount of work it all took for me to get it on the table.

3littlefrogs Tue 18-Aug-09 04:15:08

What time is supper?

Are other meal times just as bad?

I ask, because I wonder if some of this (normal) behaviour is exascerbated by tiredness?

We didn't have family evening meals when mine were this age because DH didn't get home till after 7pm. So mine were given lunch as their "big" meal of the day at 12, then tea at about 4.30, then bathed by 6, and a bowl of cereal or similar if they were hungry. They were always up by 6 am, so needed to be in bed by 6.30.

Don't know if any of that helps - just my experience.

Old fashioned, maybe, but a lot more peaceful!

normanthehairdresser Thu 20-Aug-09 23:07:21

DS is 3.3. I feel much better just reading your list!

We have a 'pants on at mealtime' rule, mostly enforced! If he keeps getting down we ask him if he's had enough and we should put his tea in the fridge (not throw it away cos that creates meltdown). He can get down when he's finished but Mummy and Daddy stay at the table until we've finished (variably enforced!)

I think I'd struggle with 10-15 minutes if he didn't want to eat iyswim - if he is engaged with the food then fine.

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