Seeking wisdom DSS eating problems(11 Posts)
I have posted in these parts before about my DSS. To cut long things short, he is 6, noticeably small for his age, and skinny, but not worryingly so I don't think. He come to us every weekend and during school holidays.
The issue is that when he stays with DP and I - he does not eat, or eats very little. And appears to have some kind of eating disorder.
When presented with food, he will gag, vomit, take tiny bites, say his head hurts, sit and cry, or make excuses to leave the table (usually needing to use the toilet). This happens at every meal time.
Last night things came to a head, when he has a full blown meltdown and then asked to go home to his mum. He went to bed having not eaten at all, for probably the best part of 12 hours. His mum denies there is a problem and will not hear what DP has to say, although she admits that she is not present during mealtimes (her mother is). Also no one seems to be monitoring what, if anything, he eats at school.
What can be done here? This is also having an impact on the other children in the house as they have to witness the unpleasantness each time, and it is causing a great strain. We are due to have him for the Christmas holidays and I am dreading the battle.
Can mum provide you with a list of things she knows that he will eat? At least if she can share the things he definitely eats then you have a headstart. Also, it's probably too late now, but your DP needs to be calling the school and asking them to monitor and feed back what he is eating there. If he's concerned he needs to do everything he can to find out more, especially if mum isn't there when DSS is eating.
As for the battle at dinner time, assume that at his age it's not that he doesn't know or understand what is expected of him. For whatever reason he cannot do it at your house. Food issues are very common for children who have anxiety or are stressed or worried about things. Even if the original reason for being worried is forgotten and now he is just worried about eating, adding more stress is not going to help. Do you have any idea why/when it began? Any clues there?
I'd try offering him simple food away from other people, probably with his dad or on his own. I'd let him choose what he wants from a selection of foods his mum has told you he eats. If he turned it down, I'd offer it again later with no fuss, pleading etc - like it's no big deal. Honestly over the break I'd be going for the simple life myself and jus let him graze on anything he wanted - if he is with you for half the holiday it's going to be a nightmare to battle every single time. If it's too stressful to keep him at the table on Christmas day personally I'd just let him get down so everyone else has a nice time.
This kind off issue is not going to be resolved by forcing or coercing him to do anything (I know you're not saying you are) but I had an eating disorder for many years (although I was older) and I am certain of one thing - focusing on the behaviour rather than the cause of the behaviour really entrenches it!
Building a fun way for him to feel connected, safe, and having a sense of control over his own food choices and a chance to be relaxed around food are all important in the short term. If you start with the objective of him eating something (anything!) so he's not exhausted and hungry as well as upset, you can always address him eating at the table with other people much later down the line.
Good luck - I feel for you! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas break x
I agree- can you ask him/his mum what he does like to eat?
Make eating fun and not forced. The more you push the more he'll go the other way. He might well have sensory issues with food. Any allergies? My dd 4 stopped eating and was diagnosed with coeliac disease. She barely eats now.
He needs to see a doctor. And if your partner has parental responsibility he can do that without informing the ex.
Have you asked him what he likes eating? Maybe he's just very fussy and what you cook is different to what he's used to?
Are you sure he doesn't have an eating disorder? The fact that he takes small bites etc. and especially the going to the toilet every mealtime, makes me wonder if he is making himself vomit in the toilet.
I would be checking out the GM! Maybe she is the problem and someone needs to monitor her interaction with the boy at meals.
I think chocos advice is spot on. The more anxiety brought to the situation the less likely he is to eat. If you can find out what he will eat, could you then put a selection of those foods into a lower cupboard that he can reach and tell him he can help himself whenever he wants with no pressure. Still give him a meal (of something he likes) but if he feels he has control of his eating a bit more he may become more receptive. At this point it's more important that he eats, rather than what or how he eats it.
You might find its something very simple like he doesn't like different foods touching. But if you start simple you're more likely to find what the problem really is, or overcome it without really knowing.
Yes I'd first get professional advice yourself. Also speak to his Mum.
However, be careful not to make it a focus and an issue for your DSS, not to bring in more anxiety. If he doesn't eat much, then if he has no aversion to milk, of milk shakes, they are a great source of calories whilst you gradually introduce more food.
My child has special needs and a very tricky diet. I load up on all the foods he likes, and try and introduce a bit of balance, but it's not easy. I give him fortified cereal just to increase vitamins if he's particularly bad, like cheerios.
We had this problem . My DSS was 10 when I first met him. He is now nearly 24. He refused to eat anything but processed food (turkey dinosaurs, fish finger and burgers) and any potatoes . (chip roast baked and mash). Crisps, chocolate and would only drink Coke. This caused a problem cause my son who is the same age had to eat vegetables and home cooked meals. the above were a treat. We got around it by changing treat days to the weekends he would visit. He still eats a restricted diet (even more so really). Its now burgers, pizza and chips, prawn cocktail crisps and large amounts of JD and Coke. Now I just think not my monkey not my zoo. let him get on with it. I just refuse to cook the rubbish so now he cooks it himself or eats snacks in his room.
Please please leave him alone. I went through this all through my childhood with my sister. She was a terrible fussy eater, very tiny, just didn't like eating. It was a constant battle during the meal between her and my step-mum (her mum) and frankly, it made meals a very anxious time for everyone.
As it is, my sister remained slim but has grown to be a perfect healthy adult. She stopped being a fussy eater when she became a teenager and now is actually much more daring than I am. She is slim but not skinny.
The same happened with my DD. At 2yo, she was in the 95% centile height wise, but only 6% weight wise. She ate so little and only a few handful of things. My GP agreed to refer to a pediatrician because of the gap but she was developing fine and indeed the pediatrician wasn't worried at all and said she would eat when she decided to.
She remained a fussy underweight child until she was about 8. Then suddenly she started to have normal dinners at school and by the time she started secondary school, she was like every other teenagers her year. She is now at 17 a very healthy eater, slim but not skinny and there are only a handful of things she will not eat.
It is horrible as a child to be forced to eat, can really be traumatic and stressful for the others. Just don't make a fuss and it won't become one for anyone.
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