What to do when fussy eating affects the whole family mealtime

(13 Posts)
Wishiwasrunning2 Mon 30-May-16 19:14:47

Had to re-register as forgot my password! confused I've been here a while as wishiwasrunning

My 7yo DD has always been a fussy eater, it's so bad now that it is affecting every family mealtime and my two younger children are copying the behaviour of refusing to eat, scowling at me and DH, complaining, disrupting others eating by distracting them. She then announces she's not hungry/full/wants to get down and the others the also want to get down and won't eat.

We tried sending her away when she starts playing up and it then distracts the younger ones. I try and cook meals that she'll eat very plain, but makes no difference. It's not that she doesn't like it, she decides before she's even tasted it, before she even reaches the table some nights!! angry

She eats a good breakfast and lunch if that helps, she plays up at her granny's and at friends houses.

If she just didn't eat much I wouldn't care but it has such an impact on the whole family meal that I'm at the end of my rope.

Please help.

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 30-May-16 19:29:04

What happens if you just ignore her when she says she doesn't want it?

Numberoneisgone Mon 30-May-16 19:32:21

In the main we make no fuss if our children don't eat. They are not allowed be rude and there is no alternative dinner but they can eat fruit. No one has starved yet.

Wishiwasrunning2 Mon 30-May-16 19:38:57

If we ignore her she will keep saying it until I snap! Imagine 'Mummy I'm full' on repeat for five mins, by which time the other two have joined in too!!

There is always fruit available if she doesn't eat, it's not really that I'm worried about, it's that her behaviour dominates the dinner table and I need to stop that happening so we can all relax and enjoy a meal together.

The 2yo is a fabulous eater but is starting to not get enough to eat because she copies her older sister so is in tears within 30mins of getting down as she's genuinely hungry!!

daisydalrymple Mon 30-May-16 19:40:54

Have you tried some simple family meal time rules? Eg:
Everybody sits at the table at the same time
Nobody leaves the table until everybody has finished with their meal (ie she can 'finish with' her meal after one mouthful but must stay there till the last person has finished)
No complaining about food servedat the table (if they don't like something they politely leave it to one side)
Everybody suggests one meal they like for dinner once a week (this might be one vote combined for the dcs depending on the age of the others)
Children help to prepare at least one meal a week (even if it's just buttering some bread whilst you cook and get cutlery and helping set table)
No pudding or supper if meal not eaten (to avoid the inevitable yogurt / cereal option whilst worrying they're hungry!)
If bad behaviour persists, removal of treats - eg no after school club / tv time / park / swimming etc- whatever is condidered to be fun doesn't happen if behaviour is consistently unacceptable

Numberoneisgone Mon 30-May-16 19:43:50

We get the I am full bit too so we just respond 'that is fine you need to stay at the table until everybody finishes' I think if you don't engage but do continue chatting you will get the best result. No battles.

There is not always fruit in our house either but in general we keep out fruit bowl as full as possible to stave off the hunger bit even that is limited.

daisydalrymple Mon 30-May-16 19:44:30

By the way, how long has it been going on? Do you think she feels she has to compete for your attention in some way?

Wishiwasrunning2 Mon 30-May-16 19:53:04

It's been going on since she turned 1 and before her other siblings arrived on the scene. I think she would have much preferred to be an only child if I'm honest, and perhaps she would feel like she didn't get enough attention, but I really think we are fairly good and practiced at making sure we get round all the kids, listen to them, get 1-1 time and make sure they feel loved.

However I'm willing to accept that my eldest would be the most demanding so may need more attention...

Wishiwasrunning2 Mon 30-May-16 19:56:25

I'm thinking now of clearly writing up rules for family meals at the table, along the lines of the post above.

If you don't like something that's fine, leave it to one side and eat the rest.
If you're finished but your cutlery together but you can't leave the table until everyone is finished
Don't distract others when they're eating.
Do not be rude about the food or to others.

Wishiwasrunning2 Mon 30-May-16 19:58:35

The idea of not getting pudding if meal not eaten... She tries to negotiate for each pea eaten to see if she gets pudding, it's very tedious.

She never finishes a meal, so would always miss out on pudding if she had to clear her plate

daisydalrymple Mon 30-May-16 20:23:23

Re pudding, we've always maintained they don't need a clear plate, but it needs to look as if they've made a fair effort at eating the meal or else they can't possibly be hungry enough for pud if they haven't eaten the meal itself.

noblegiraffe Mon 30-May-16 20:47:03

This is something that MN would probably totally disapprove of, but what we do if the kids are whining about dinner is get YouTube up on the iPad and take it in turns to pick songs to play while eating. If they aren't eating, the song gets paused/they don't get a turn. By songs I mean like Be Our Guest, Hakuna Matata, maybe a bit of Taylor Swift, so they're only short and we do have discussions between songs so it's not completely antisocial. We don't do it every mealtime, just when everyone's a bit fractious and it makes the whole experience far more pleasant (and more food gets eaten).

Wishiwasrunning2 Mon 30-May-16 21:22:04

Thanks the songs is a great idea as they love music.

We need something to break the cycle as I feel so worn down by it.

We'll definitely try this grin

We've also just agreed on some rules for the table (DH and I) so will show them those tomorrow too and put them on the wall.

Thanks Mumsnet! flowers

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