Snacking at neighbours is driving us mad(9 Posts)
We are having a real problem with getting our 3 ½ year old son to eat. Hes never been an enthusiastic eater, and mealtimes have sometimes been a battleground. Our problem at the moment is snacking just before the evening meal. This usually occurs at our next door neighbours house when the three girls there come home from school. During that time he is either offered or helps himself to biscuits, crisps, chocolate milk, etc and then refuses to eat the meal weve prepared. We used to drop hints to our neighbours (who we get on with very well) but had to finally resort to my wife going round there one evening and laying the law down. But yesterday he came back home with that tell-tale chocolate-ring around his mouth, and threw a wobbler when his dinner was offered. Are we being too uptight about proper nutrition and establishing healthy eating habits? We dont want to prevent him playing with his friends (weve already blocked the gap in the fence between our back gardens to stop him sneaking in that way), but cant think of any other alternative
I wouldn't worry too much about this, Rick. It's great that he's got such good friends just next door. I do know how frustrating it is when they won't eat lovongly prepared healthy food, though. Sometimes I feel like flinging my boys' dinners all over them! Why don't you try feeding him something healthy before he goes out to play and then offering a top-up healthy snack that doesn't need too much preparation at dinner time?
I dont think your being to uptight. No one wants their child eating a bunch of sugar and snacks before they have had their dinner. If their always snacking their never going to eat. My daughter used to come home and want to eat the house out. She just about stopped eating her meals each day. I decided she could have one tiny snack until dinner. Nothing sweet before. Maybe the mom of the kids can send your child home until after they have had their snack each day. Then he can go back. Then maybe you can give your ds a small snack that wont fill him up. Are the kids next door aloud to help themselves to food whenever they want? That might be a problem if your ds is around their alot.
I think you should reiterate to the neighbors that you don't want your child snacking on anything but fruit or vegetables (or whatever you deem appropriate) and that you don't want him to snack within X number of hours before his mealtime. If your neighbors cannot repect your dietary wishes for your son, I think you should consider whether you really want your child playing there unsupervised by you. Also, I don't think it's appropriate for a 3 year old to be helping themselves to any kind of food unsupervised. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but I find it amazing that any parent would not respect the dietary wishes (within reason) of another parent. And I absolutely hate what seems to be the current trend of allowing children to eat unlimited amounts of unhealthy snacks and then skip meals.
Thanks for the tips. Sobernow's idea of giving them some healthy food to give him when he's around there is a good idea. Mind you if I was three I think I'd prefer chocolate biscuits to fruit anyday! Especially when my friends are eating them too. It's the timing more than anything else, just before dinner time he's obviously hungry, and will eat whatever he can find. Once he actually said "I want to go next door because I'm hungry". We run the risk, like most issues of parenting, of becoming the bad guys compared to indulgent neighbours, grandparents, friends and neighbours.
Rick, just want to add my sympathy here. I try to get ds (4.5yo) to eat healthily most of the time but don't view the odd junk food tea at a friends house as the end of the world.
However, if my ds only had to go next door to snack on junk then I would be mightily fed up too if it was not occassional, in danger of becoming a habit and spoiling his supper.
I agree with whoever said to fill him up with something good before he goes on the basis that a) he's starving, so will eat whatever you give him and b) he might not ask for junk round there if he's already eaten, but if he does, not much damage done.
Or maybe you could make a rule that he only goes round after tea time? AND give him healthy stuff to take with him. You could always tell the neighbours that this is because you don't want him to eat them out of house and home. Disingenuous maybe, but what the hell if it works.
I also know what you mean about becoming the bad guys. My mum never had any junk in the house when I was a child and I really envied friends who had such a thing as a biscuit tin but I'm exactly the same now. Ds completely accepts it and doesn't ask for crisps/chocolate/whatever at home because he knows we don't have any. He will still ask when we're out or at a friends though and I do let him have them since I don't want to give him the idea that any food is inherently Good or Bad, just everything in moderation. Good luck.
My sympathies! My boys - just 3 and nearly 5 - don't eat between meals, but I'm sure they would if they could. We eat three meals a day sat at the table together, and they are exceptionally good eaters. I would be disappointed if they started snacking at a friend's house.
Just one thought though. Have you considered having a main meal at lunchtime? Then teatime isn't so important? My boys are usually pretty shattered by teatime, and tend not to have the energy to eat a main meal at that time of day. So whenever we possibly can we have 'dinner' at lunchtime.
Rick, I agree with the most of the things said here. I think tackling the neighbours and asking them not to let your ds have any snacks is a bit like flogging a dead horse really. If they are giving snacks (in this case unhealthy ones) to their kids, it's unrealistic & almost impossible to expect them to refuse your son some (he will almost certainly ask if chocy biscuits are being handed out) and also unrealistic to ask your young son not to take them. (It would be different if there was another issue eg allergy here but although good nutrition is impoprtant, lots of parents just don 't see the harm in sweet snacks)
However, if this is affecting his eating every (or nearly) night, then you're right to be concerned and you need to do something. Like others have said
1. not let him go there, but that's be a shame
2. Bring his dinner time foreward so he's already fed before he goes
3. Stuff him full of the healthy snacks before and offer him a simle healthy supper when he gets back
4. Have all the kids round your for a change (I got the impression from your posting that he goes to them rather them coming to your house) and give them all healthy stuff. Like you said in your 2nd message, not many little kids would choose an apple over a chocy biscuit, but especially not if their friends are allowed them
I have gone through a very long fussy spell where the meal was rejected nearly every day, so I empathise with your frustrations and concerns. Good luck
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