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If you've picked the wrong battle, do you still keep going with it?

(23 Posts)
Catsby Sun 01-Dec-13 19:56:31

22mo had finished the pasta on her plate at dinner and asked nicely for more. She hadn't really touched her veg so I asked to her to one piece of tomato before I have her more pasta. Cue a huge meltdown to the point where she was in too much of a state to eat anything at all. I'd started so I carried on and ignored her, explained calmly what I wanted which normally works quite well, took her out of her chair when she threw some food on the floor etc. A minute or so in I realised that actually she was overtired (she's been ill lately) and it was probably a really pointless battle to pick - it's not like she's really a bad eater or we have many issues, and she was too tired and dinner was a bit late and I probably should have just given her some more pasta to start with.

I'd started, so I didn't think it was right to give into what was really a tantrum - but I'm not sure that was the right thing to do overall. We're only just starting the tantrums so I'm still a little unsure what we're doing. What would anyone else have done?

SummerRain Sun 01-Dec-13 20:05:46

At that age I wouldn't over something like that, it's not like it was chocolate she was asking for after all.

That said I give in on stuff a lot for an easy life so maybe i'm the wrong person to advise wink

Generally my philosophy is it's no harm for them to see me back down as long as they show some willingness to compromise. So for instance if I've given a punishment which in retrospect was a bit too harsh I'll back down if they make some effort to earn back whatever I've taken. For example if i take ds1's laptop and can't be fucked maintaining the punishment feel I was too harsh I'll give him a job or two to do to earn it back.

With regard to food I'm pretty relaxed, dd is my only picky eater although ds2 isn't great with veg. As long as they've eaten a decent amount of reasonably healthy food I tend to ignore the heap of veg left on the plate, dd eats plenty of fruit and ds2 will eat some veg so it's not worth having an argument about imo... and ds1 will usually steal their leftover veg so it doesn't go to waste grin

sleepcrisis Sun 01-Dec-13 20:06:35

Watching with interest as I often find myself in similar situations! I must admit to giving in a handful of times and i really don't think it helps in the long run. I think once you've started you need to finish. But I'm hardly winning here at the house of tantrum so I'm interested to see the replies.

RandomMess Sun 01-Dec-13 20:09:38

Once you'd got to that stage I'd probably have just gone onto the next stage of either desert or bath/bed and given a cuddle so I wouldn't have backed down but I wouldn't have created a stand off IYSWIM?

LaurieFairyCake Sun 01-Dec-13 20:13:04

I wouldn't at this age.

I do with the teenagers I foster as they really need to know you mean it and provide boundaries that they are aware of. I do try to pick as few battles as possible.

HearMyRoar Sun 01-Dec-13 20:14:32

Personally I just don't make stipulations like that about food. In that situation with dd I would have asked her if she wanted to have some of her veg first and pointed out how yummy it is. This often does that job and she will then try some, but if she gave a firm no and asked for more pasta I would just give her more pasta.

Dd is a really good eater though and even when she has days when she eats no veg it all evens out over a week as she will then have a day of wanting loads of veg. I also think that it is generally OK for someone not to fancy a particular thing sometimes so am happy to allow her to refuse something she doesnt want.

Catsby Sun 01-Dec-13 20:42:54

Yeah, as soon as I started I was thinking - really, over a piece of tomato? The thing is she is usually quite good and I don't press the matter too much. Normally she'll give shake her head a few times but then get that just one mouthful means we move on to pudding, but tonight she didn't, probably because she was overtired. So I completely agree it's was a wrong battle but in the long run I am going to continue to gently press to try one more bite etc so she doesn't completely ignore veg. As you say, roar, it generally works quite well. But you're all right, it was hardly chocolate she was asking for. I'm so annoyed now that I ruined what was a perfectly well-behaved and nice mealtime.

She doesn't like me ignoring her so as soon as she stopped screaming and started calling for me in a less hysterical way I did talk to her, and I actually did offer her some more pasta but she'd got too wound up then, so we went off for a cuddle and Night Garden.

I'm still unsure. You mentioned compromise, summer, and yes I would have immediately given more pasta or moved onto dessert if she had at least tried something, but she didn't.

Gah. Well, maybe next time I should accept the firm 'no' and just give the pasta. Though surely with food that could be a slippy slope to letting her think the veg can be refused all the time... confused

SummerRain Sun 01-Dec-13 22:31:26

I find saying 'ok you can have some more but eat some of your veg too' generally works in those situations. Kids, just like adults, don't like being manipulated into doing something they don't want to do but will usually give in if they feel they have some control. Dd is as picky as hell and I've found over the years she's more willing to try something she doesn't want if she's not pressured into it.

It doesn't always work but it does avoid a stand off if they're in stubborn humour.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Sun 01-Dec-13 22:45:19

Hello OP.

It is my belief that giving in only causes a rod for your own back, kids remember the messages we give them.
That said I did what you have done and questioned whether it was worth the hassle.
IME you just get better at choosing what to make an issue over. Your dd is young yet, I reckon you'll soon have it sussed.
You sound like a fantastic mum btw. tchsmile

DorisHerod Sun 01-Dec-13 22:46:13

Overall I'd say that you have to think long term and big picture. Pleasant meal times are massively important to me, I really like to chat and eat nice food with my family, nice table manners etc. I don't mean formal but relaxed and pleasant. Nagging about food really spoils it for everyone. If manners are really ghastly then of course they are pulled up on it, but arguing about food being eaten or not eaten makes for a lot of stress.

Def. agree with summer..pressure makes it all very high stakes and, if they are feeling contrary, whether as a 2 yr old or 13 yr old, they know they can wind you up/cause a drama, with refusing food etc.

You sound like you handled it well,with the cuddle and the Night Garden, to make it all calm again. But generally I'd say avoid almost all meal time battles if you can.

DorisHerod Sun 01-Dec-13 22:48:59

Didn't mean to suggest you were nagging Op, I just mean it can easily get that way. Yes to gentle encouragement, otherwise I let it go. As soon I I stopped fussing about 'one more piece of broccoli', a lot more broccoli was eaten!

Catsby Mon 02-Dec-13 10:02:03

Doris yes, pleasant meal times are a big aim of ours too which is why I'm so annoyed that I managed to ruin what was a very nice meal!

I do feel that my request wasn't OTT and it was very politely (i.e. not naggingly) put and as others are saying, 9/10 it does work. I'd have been very happy with one nibble on some of the veg. I think I'm also conscious that at nearly 2 we're probably soon facing the usual toddler pickiness and food refusal and I wanted to get into a good routine while she's still happily eating most thing, so I was worried if I gave in to that then that was setting a precedent too. So as soon as I started, either way I was looking at giving in to something!

Sigh grin

DorisHerod Mon 02-Dec-13 10:09:03

If somethimg works 9 out of 10 times then i personally consider that a parenting triumph!

Don't sweat the 1 time it doesn't work. Nothing's foolproof.

DorisHerod Mon 02-Dec-13 10:17:55

I got that idea (sort of) from the brilliant book 'get out of my life but first take me and Alex into town' by tony wolf and Suzanne franks. (Sorry ipad not doing capitals today, it's not in the mood...)

They say in the book that if you set a curfew of say, 11pm, for your teenager to be home, and they roll up at 11.08pm, YOUR CURFEW IS WORKING!!! I.e the rule is having an effect but your teen is doing the natural teen thing of pushing boundaries. This is normal and nothing to stress about. You politely restate the rule 'the time to be home is 11pm'. Then you don't nag but just carry one as if all was fine.

Well it's better explained by them in the book but the principle is very sound. Our rules and expectations do work over time and do have an effect, but as parents we tend to get mightily enraged by the very small amount of time they either don't work (toddler refuses veg 1 out of 10 mealtimes), or work pretty well but not 100% ( teen comes home 8 minutes late).

Either way we are missing out on congratulating our selves and our kids on a 90%+success rate!

Basically we're all doing amazingly well so let's relax!

peggyundercrackers Mon 02-Dec-13 10:35:53

agree 100% with hearmyroar.

SteamWisher Mon 02-Dec-13 10:39:50

Giving in doesnt make a rod. a silly phrase.

Not giving in does - because you teach your child stubbornness and inflexibility.

Sometimes, we make mistakes. How do you deal with that if you "don't give in"? Sometimes, as in the OP's situation, you realise that your child is tired/ill etc so you have to flex your approach a bit.

At 22 months I wouldn't make a big deal at all. If she doesn't want the veg, big deal. Mine eat fruit and veg without us having to revert to bribery.

Catsby Mon 02-Dec-13 10:42:13

That makes a lot of sense, I like that. Basically if every now and again it doesn't work, it's fine, don't sweat the small stuff? So if it becomes an issue that DD completely stops trying things when encouraged, that's a whole different issue - but in general, every now and again she's going to say no and don't make a problem out of it? I can get on board with that!

DorisHerod Mon 02-Dec-13 10:55:06

And we need to let our children practise saying no and refusing to do things from time to time. It makes them able to stand up to stuff in later life. An older and wiser parent told me that years ago...beware the highly compliant child, she said, do you want a teenager who doesn't know how to firmly say no? (She meant to unwanted advances, drugs, etc etc). As a parent of teens now, I heartily agree, I want them to say no vy firmly and stubbornly to all kinds of things! How will they if I haven't let them practise that skill safely with me?

NiceOneCenturion Mon 02-Dec-13 10:59:04

Also agree with hearmyroar. That is exactly the approach I take with my ds. He is 2 and a half and a good eater, we've never made a big deal about what he does or doesn't eat at each meal. We encourage him to eat things but don't bang on about it if he says no .

On the rare occasions he completely refuses or doesn't eat much we let him get down and he gets bread and butter or cereal before bed. This has never resulted in any further pickiness or food refusal after.

lljkk Mon 02-Dec-13 11:17:51

"Not giving in [teaches] your child stubbornness and inflexibility."

^This. Think hard before you set firm lines. Explain what concerns you before you decide to push. I am guilty myself of saying "No" too quickly which achieves nothing when I realise I've been daft.

MinesAPintOfTea Mon 02-Dec-13 11:40:28

I don't make food a battleground. DS isn't allowed extra sweet stuff but if he wants more I don't judge if he's left something different on his plate only if he's demanding more of something he's still got loads of and if he's acting starved when I refuse second pudding there's always an offer of bread and butter.

Its my job to serve veg he will eat, not his to force himself to way something he doesn't like. But dm was a veg forcer and it left me with a heap of food issues. Plus I know he will eat my homemade soup, peas or sweetcorn so we have that every day alongside another vegetable and plenty of fruit at the end of meals. More difficult if there are no vegetables your dd will way I know.

More generally I will offer a compromise when I realise I've started down a path when I shouldn't have.

Hermione123 Mon 02-Dec-13 13:58:21

In general with any tantrum you do end up often wishing you'd just let it go. You're learning too. Closer to 3, or more depending on your dc, they have control even when they are tired and that's contributing. Generally you have to be consistent, even if you feel you wouldn't have said no in retrospect. I try and move onto the next thing fast if I've misjudged it (distraction).

ThurlHoHoHo Mon 02-Dec-13 14:11:55

OP back here (Xmas namechange) - thanks again for all the suggestions and advice. The distraction suggestions are good, I think that's what I should have done earlier last night. That way it's not entirely giving in (though I can see that it really wasn't something I should have pressed in that situation) but accepting that you've made a wrong decision and doing something to stop the tantrum.

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