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"I don't like this" ... rant to follow ....

(87 Posts)
Millie1 Tue 02-Aug-05 14:01:29

I am so so sick of hearing those words from DS1 aged 3 and 3/4. Every blooming night, it seems like no matter what I put on the table, I hear those 4 words before he even tastes it. Then there's a full-blown row because he won't eat it. If it's a stage it's just getting worse by the day.

Meals refused/picked at in the last week inc ... where do I start? I'll work backwards from last night - sweet 'n sour chicken and rice (new recipe from Jeanette Orrey's bk); lamb shanks & potato and parsnip mash (another new recipe for us); sausage casserole and mash; pasta with jar of tomato & basil sauce (lazy night!); pasta bake; chicken wrapped in bacon with mash and veg ... I could go on but you get the picture.

He's getting plenty of variety but refuses just about anything. Yes he's probably getting enough through breakfast and lunch but he's a lean little chap anyway and I'd rather fatten him up than have his ribs stick out any further.

Any words of wisdom or ideas? I've tried the naughty step, taking his dinner away, telling him to leave the table and come back when he's hungry, withholding pudding (no more excting than a yogurt), not giving snacks between meals .... now I'm just pulling my hair out. Worse still, his brother is a great eater but is getting to the age where he's following his big brother's example.

Thanks!

Gobbledigook Tue 02-Aug-05 14:06:04

Millie1 - are you me? Ds2 who is 2.9 is a great eater but has started saying 'I don't like that' just cos ds1 does (4).

Nothing works.

Oh, except the other night I got an alarm clock down from the bedroom. I told them they had 15 minutes and then the food was going and they'd get nothing else. I set it to ring after 15 mins and all the while as they slowed down I'd be saying 'oh quick, only 7 minutes left!!' Hard as it may be to believe (I mean, we wouldn't fall for it would we?!) it worked and they polished off a whole plate of pasta and bolognese.

Tomorrow we are having lasagne. Ds1 always kicks up a fuss. We say 'Ok, you don't have to eat all of it, just some of it' and he'll say 'how many spoons?' and we say 'how many do you think would be OK?' and he'll usually say something daft like '12' so we say 'OK' and we can usually get the whole lot down him in 12 big mouthfuls

Twiglett Tue 02-Aug-05 14:06:17

"you are not allowed to say you don't like something until you taste it"

Gobbledigook Tue 02-Aug-05 14:08:06

And last night they had picnic tea. I put 2 quarters of cherry tomato on it plus some cubes of cucumber. Again, he said he didn't want all of it so I said he could have some. I said one piece of tomato and 2 cucumber. He ate the one tomato but only one cucumber. I said 'well since you only ate one cucumber how about eating the other tomato' and he did!

Maybe it's about giving them a bit of choice in how much of it they eat - strike up a deal and make them think they are in control of it!

Gobbledigook Tue 02-Aug-05 14:09:48

I also make the mistake of putting too much on the plate I think - make the portion smaller than you think it should be and that might help.

I also withold drink if they don't eat. So I can say '2 more spoons' adn you can have a bit of drink and then when they've done that I take the drink away again till they've eaten more.

Sorry, I'm rambling - it's a subject close to my heart as you can see!

bundle Tue 02-Aug-05 14:15:16

agree re: putting too much on plates. plus - think you're trying too hard (though I love the sound of your food). kids like simple things - pasta they can put their own grated cheese on is a big one in my house. ok so they're not getting 5 portions fruit/veg at every sitting, but at least there's a chance they might eat it (apologies if you have already tried this strategy )

Twiglett Tue 02-Aug-05 14:17:16

I also find if DS helps me cook .. peeling carrots, chopping mushrooms, stirring things he inevitably eats more

oops Tue 02-Aug-05 14:28:54

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saadia Tue 02-Aug-05 14:34:35

oops I know what you mean I do that sometimes as well - pretend I'm on one of those progs and I think it actually helps me to stay calm.

And, I also have a friend who was a troublesome eater and her mum used to follow her round with spoons of food and she says if her mum hadn't tried so hard she probably would have eaten more.

bundle Tue 02-Aug-05 14:36:04

following round with spoon big no-no. sit at table, even if not eating <<slightly cross emoticon>>

NotQuiteCockney Tue 02-Aug-05 14:46:47

We do a lot of negotiating and bargaining. And I say "you're allowed to not like things, but you have to try them".

I will give him small amounts of everything that's being served. To get more of whatever he wants more of (generally meat or carb), he has to eat some of everything, and finish some stuff, too.

It's hard, keeping it all from becoming an interesting battle, but realy worthwhile.

mummylonglegs Tue 02-Aug-05 14:49:38

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frogs Tue 02-Aug-05 14:51:14

I am evil fascist mother wrt food, and it seems to have worked as other mothers love having my kids round cos they eat everything that crosses their field of vision.

Essentially the deal in the frog pond is this:

Everything that I put on the table is perfectly edible. If they choose not to eat it, then that's fine, they're welcome to go without. They are not allowed to play with the food, push it listlessly around the plate or ostentatiously pick out the bits they want. Anybody who criticises, whinges or makes yuk noises finds themselves outside on the stairs so fast their feet don't touch the ground, on the basis that I've gone to the trouble of cooking it, so even if they don't particularly like it, it's rude to criticise it. The closest they come is when I've served up some not very visually-appealing leftovers, and one of them will tentatively ask, "Um, Mummy, I don't want to be rude or anything, but what exactly is this?"

I don't generally give substitutes, nor do I give pudding to people who haven't eaten all or most of their main course, on the basis that if they haven't eaten their main course they can't be hungry. I occasionally make discreet exceptions if I can see something is genuinely too spicy for them. It also helps to give very small portions, and then let them ask for more.

At the risk of sounding harsh, your ds1 is taking you for a ride. He's getting loads of attention for behaving this way, and a couple of years down the line you're going to find yourself in the role of short-order cook providing a la carte menus to the worlds pickiest restaurant guests.

Next time he moans, whisk the food away immediately without comment, and completely ignore him. When he later complains about being hungry, tell him, "Well, you chose not to eat your lunch, so of course you're hungry. You'll just have to wait till suppertime". I'd be really surprised if he carries on with moaning for more than a couple of days if you take no notice at all. He won't starve himself -- truly.

Bozza Tue 02-Aug-05 14:54:00

We have this with DS 4.5 - he generally says he doesn't like it before he's even arrived in the kitchen so he doesn't even know what it is which rather gives him away. Very frustrating.

mummylonglegs Tue 02-Aug-05 14:58:12

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katymac Tue 02-Aug-05 15:00:55

I'm with Frogs, i know being a C/mer makes it 3 million times easier - but I rarely have a child who doesn't eat their lunch (or breakfast or tea) especially when their pudding is placed in front of them, and when all other desserts have been finished (and dinner still not eaten) my DH eat it.

Funnily enough a child never leaves any food on their plate a 2nd time.........

Obviously if they are sickening for something or it's a new dish some leaway is given - but on basics..the rule stands

mishmash Tue 02-Aug-05 15:01:29

You are all talking about my DS2 here. He is impossible - we have an older DS and a younger DD and they will try anything. But DS2 - oh no. We had a major row on Saturday - he was going to a birthday party and I wanted him to have some lunch before he went so had meatballs and pasta. He refused point blank to even taste. After giving out to him - telling him about all the starving children in the world he was eventually sent to his room and was told he couldn't go to the birthday party. Eventually after much sobbing he re-appeared and did what he had been asked to do and just tasted it. That was all we had asked - but anyway he didn't like it and got to go to his party cos he tasted it.

We have a battle most evenings and like Millies his ribs are just sticking out.

Having said that I was like that as a child and I have certainly made up for it

WigWamBam Tue 02-Aug-05 15:01:42

Agree wholeheartedly with frogs - that's the way it is in my house, too. You have two choices: take it or leave it. If you leave it then the food is taken away without fuss or comment (so dd doesn't get attention through refusing food) and there's nothing else until the next meal.

oops Tue 02-Aug-05 15:04:55

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Millie1 Tue 02-Aug-05 15:09:29

Wow ... I go away for an hour and come back to stacks of replies, lots of ideas and oodles of common sense comments too! Thank you all! And you've made me feel a whole lot better in knowing I'm not the only one with a fussy little beggar! And controlling! This evening I'm going to start working through your suggestions ...alarm clock first Goobledigook ... I think that might just work. I DON'T want to be cooking separate dishes for everyone and am determined to knock this on the head - although we eat our main meal in the evening and it's hard to carry through the threat of sending him to bed w'out food (lunchtime's easier for this). Thanks everyone!

oops Tue 02-Aug-05 15:10:08

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bundle Tue 02-Aug-05 15:11:57

gdg is right re: timing, once they get to school many kids have "sittings" at lunchtime and if they aren't used to eating up fairly briskly they will go hungry

oops Tue 02-Aug-05 15:13:24

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frogs Tue 02-Aug-05 15:14:28

Oh god, I'm not that scary. I spent a lot of time in my teenage years being sent to skivvy for one of my aunts who had six children, and who ended up just as I described earlier, cooking six separate meals to different specifications. Even at the age of 14 I realised that this was not the way forward.

I'm not aiming to control my kids' food intake, I just try to be very matter-of-fact about the whole food issue. In the end you can't make them eat anyway, so it always seemed to me that it's not a fight worth entering into. Actually my 18-month dd2 can be very contrary about food, so I do try to give her a range of things on her plate at once. But in the end, if she doesn't eat it, I'm not going to get worked up over it.

I just hate it when kids feel the need to hold forth at length about their various dislikes -- if they don't want to eat it, fair enough, but they don't have to tell everyone about it. And most of the dislikes are pretty irrational anyway -- it's not unusual to get junior school-age visitors announcing, "Oh, I only eat Munch Bunch yoghurts", or whatever. A visiting six-year old recently refused a drink of milk, and when offered water instead, maintained, "oh, I don't drink water." wtf?

GeorginaA Tue 02-Aug-05 15:18:51

Things that have helped us while we're in the same stage (my utmost sympathies!):

1. House rule that you have to try at least a mouthful of everything on the plate before you've finished.

2. A dice worked for a while (he went through a game phase) - roll the dice, eat that many mouthfuls of, say, potato. Roll the dice again, that many of meat - ds1 thought it was a fantastic game, never occurred to him that mummy was conning him rotten . Novelty wore off after a while though.

3. Current strategy, in addition to rule 1. If something new is cooked I'll announce it rather than try and sneak it in. "Today we have something new - it's x. If you manage to eat at least half of it then you'll get a sticker to say well done for eating something new." (also, his baby brother almost always earns this sticker so ds1 has to earn it too )

4. Smaller portions. Ds1 will always ask for more if he's still hungry, but large portions always overwhelm him. Make sure rewards are achievable.

5. Packet of chocolate buttons if he eats ALL his main course and ALL his pudding (this is still quite a rare event - probably once every three days? But even if it wasn't, if he's eating well then I don't begrudge chocolate!). Also additional treats are a glass of juice with his dinner if I feel he's behaved/eaten well all day.

6. No fuss if he leaves it (other than insisting he tries a mouthful of everything). Just comment "have you finished? Then put your knife and fork together on the plate." if it looks like he's got distracted - amazingly sometimes it gets him back on track to eating!

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