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Lost my temper. 3 year old DS refusing to feed himself

(19 Posts)
ILoveDHIDo Fri 21-Feb-14 15:24:44

I blame my mother for this.

We lived with her up until a few months ago and she always used to pamper him and treat him like a baby. We'd always have vicious fight over it where she would claim 'abuse' if I let him starve unless he ate what I gave him and fed himself the food.

I decided in my mind, that I'm leaving soon enough anyway, so what are a few months?

Worsr thing to do! Now we are finally in our own house and he's not eating a darn thing unless you feed him. I haven't fed him but he'll make no attempts to eat. He'll hold the spoon but stare into space.

I lost my temper and smacked his hand very hard sad I'm locked in my room crying because I can't imagine how much harder it'll be when DC2 arrives on 3 weeks time!

Help me please?

Artandco Fri 21-Feb-14 15:28:30

Just leave him to eat, don't pressurise. If he won't eat lunch leave him and wait until dinner. At dinner give him food and leave him. He will quickly learn to feed himself if he's hungry

assuming he's had no snacks/ lunch since breakfast, I would guess he will want dinner

Sirzy Fri 21-Feb-14 15:29:32

Firstly what is done is done you understandably feel bad for it as most would be try not to dwell on it. Go down give him a cuddle and say sorry and then when everyone is calm explain to him that him not feeding himself made mummy sad.

Does he have a favourite meal? Perhaps cook that for him to make it harder for him to resist feeding himself? Buy him some big boy cutlery to use?

As hard as it is don't let it bother you, he won't go hungry eventually he will realise you mean it when you say you won't feed him (maybe keep him away from your mums at meal time for a while if possible to stop her 'helping').

Do you eat with him? If so just sit down at the table with him, you eat yours and make conversation as normal but don't mention his eating unless he is eating nicely and then praise him.

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 21-Feb-14 15:29:56

if you are going to lose your temper again put him in a safe place and walk away until you have calmed down.

this isnt your little boys fault. he must be confused.

sit with him at meal times - so you are eating with him. he maybe just doesnt understand whats changed - you need to stay calm at meal times or it will make things 10 times worse - never make food a battle.

try a sticker chart.
OTT praise or any effort he makes himself.

will he eat finger food? sandwiches etc? praise to high heavens, sticker on the chart, lots of fuss.
ignore completely any behaviour you see as "bad" or if he wont assist himself.

smacking isnt the answer - just walk away if you get annoyed. go back when you have calmed down.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 21-Feb-14 15:32:18

I would hold his hand and guide spoon in and gradually fade that out.

ILoveDHIDo Fri 21-Feb-14 15:36:05

Thank you for the advice.

I smacked him because I became so frustrated at the thought of struggling with him over food when a newborn will be on the scene shortly. It was wrong and I have just gone downstairs to apologise.

I really don't know what his favourite foods are because he'll eat anything. he's the least fussy toddler I know which also adds to my frustration.

I'll take it away from him and give it to him for dinner. Positive reinforcement doesn't work.. I've tried that but I guess I'll keep trying.

fluffyanimal Fri 21-Feb-14 15:36:54

Your DS is probably feeling very unsettled with the new house and awareness of a new sibling on the way. This will be his way of trying to feel in control.

You on the other hand are probably panicking that you need him to be independent so that you can deal with a newborn. Unfortunately real life isn't like that. You can't push your older children's milestones on them in time with your own schedule. We all have to learn juggling with two, but we all work it out and manage as well. By the way, I think that for a lot of people, their parenting/behavioural ideals that they try to impress on the first child go by the wayside a bit when second child arrives. You just do what works smile

I'd go easy on your DS. So what if you feed him for a while? Keep meal times fun and relaxed, but be certain to praise him for anything that he does independently, not just with relation to food but to anything, e.g. fetching his own shoes, picking his toys up, "Oh what a good big boy you are being doing xyz." Before you know it he'll be wanting to feed himself.

What is your DH's view on this?

Is it just spoon-feeding himself that is an issue, or is it feeding himself, full stop? If it is the former, could you give him meals he can eat with his fingers, for a while? That would take some stress out of mealtimes for you both, and they could start to become more pleasant times for you both.

Then you could start to re-introduce the spoon feeding - and maybe you could eat with him, so he sees you happily feeding yourself, and you could chatter to him whilst you both eat.

And I wouldn't beat yourself up over smacking his hand. You won't have scarred him for life and it doesn't make you a bad or abusive mother. It will have shocked him, but that mightn't be a totally bad thing - he will see he has pushed you too far.

ILoveDHIDo Fri 21-Feb-14 15:45:31

You're right fluffy! I couldn't agree more.. I'm putting a lot of pressure on him. It's because I know he can feed himself just that it went out of the window when we moved back in with my mum for a little while while the house was being done up.

DH irritates me with this because he doesn't have to deal with it as much as I do as he's at work during all his meal times. But when he is at home he'd laugh or ignore the situation completely like he's on another planet.

ClaraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 15:47:31

He's 3. Is it really so hard to just indulge this for a little while? You'll hardly be doing it when he's 15 will you?

I'd take the path of least resistance and give yourself a break. It's got to be easier than hitting him and then howling in your bedroom hasn't it?

Offer him incentives to feed himself and in the meantime just go with the flow. It's just a phase like everything else

ILoveDHIDo Fri 21-Feb-14 15:48:05

SDTG I'll try finger food for dinner tonight, hopefully he'll eat it because I can't let him go to bed hungry.

Thank you!

ILoveDHIDo Fri 21-Feb-14 15:49:51

True Clara, I just wanted him to be able to feed himself at least before the baby is born. I understand that it is unnecessary pressure that I'm putting on the both of us.

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 21-Feb-14 15:50:58

the more frustrated you get the more it will affect your DS so try as hard as you can to stay relaxed.

hands on hands teaching is a great idea - you just put your hand on his so he is actually feeding himself with guidance from you.

turn this into a battle and its one you will never, ever win. you irritation is coming through in your posts so imagine how your boy is picking up on it.

does he eat sandwiches etc?

and dont give his meal back to him later as a punishment. that went out with the dark ages and does not work.

i agree that the moving house is a huge upheaval in a 3 year olds life - and he suddenly doesnt have his gran on hand either. he may be missing seeing her after living there for months.

go easy on him.

MinesAPintOfTea Fri 21-Feb-14 15:54:19

Give him a new meal. Something different, warm and delicious to tempt him to feed himself.

Potato wedges, meat cut into chunks and peas? He can eat them with a fork or feed himself. Maybe you could even dispense with cutlery for yourself for a few meals if the emphasis is on actually feeding rather than table manners. Keep it easy and stress free as much as you can.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 21-Feb-14 15:54:33

I would do something extra nice with him tonight. .then you will both feel better

ClaraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 16:10:25

My 7 year old would have had me feeding him when he was 6 grin

Annoying but I'd sometimes just shovel it in him saying ' a big boy would do this himself ! ' he was just lazy really.

He'd be horrified if I tried to feed him now !

Just do it and don't even make it ' a thing ' because it really isn't! He's only little and he wants his mum to feed him. I'd indulge it for now

spiderlight Fri 21-Feb-14 16:13:35

I bet he'd eat with these! Worth a try? Stuff With Diggers On was my solution to all toddler dramas.

ILoveDHIDo Fri 21-Feb-14 17:50:30

I took him to the park Fanjo, bless him he's so forgiving.

I made him finger food and spent the whole time giving him positive reinforcement with each bite he took and he ate it all!

I feel better now that he's happy and playing about.

Thank you all again!

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 21-Feb-14 18:18:50

Sounds like no harm done smile

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