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Monday, June 7, 2010

This is the one

Do you see this sweet, adorable-looking little boy?

Yeah, this one.  With the innocent smile? 
(I know, not the greatest pic, but it helps me make my point.)

This is the child that is going to make my hair turn gray.

This is the child that is going to keep me awake at night worrying.

This is the child that, at times, can be the most loving, caring, wonderful boy in the world ... giving me endless hugs and kisses and lots of love. 

And the next minute can be a complete terror that makes me want to rip my hair out ... demanding and whining and fighting and being completely defiant.

Especially lately ... we've been having supper time battles. 

Every. stinkin'. night.  Ugh!

He refuses to eat.  Not because he's not hungry.  But because I (we - Doug and I both) want him to eat.

He sits there, arms crossed, bottom lip sticking out, often times crying, refusing to eat.  Screaming, "I hate brocolli!"  "Not coleslaw!"  "I don't want chicken!" etc., etc. etc.

We've tried everything (or just about everything).  We've asked nicely, explained, begged, pleaded, bribed, threatened, punished ... you name it, we've probably done it.  And yet he refuses.

We've withheld snacks and drinks after nap/before dinner.  We've refused to let him have a before-bed snack if he doesn't eat his dinner.  We've told him he was going to have to eat his supper for breakfast the next day if he didn't eat.

He just doesn't care.  Well, that's not entirely true.  If he didn't care, he wouldn't sit there crying and whining and pitching a fit like he does.

But still, almost every night, he gives us a hard time at the dinner table.  Most nights, everyone else is done and moved on to other things, and he is still sitting there.  Refusing to eat.

And then 10 minutes after we are done with dinner, he asks for a snack.  Ugh!  (Of course, we refuse).

I'm at my wit's ends with it all.

So I'm looking for advice here.  Anyone else have this problem?  If so, how did you remedy it?  Is this just part of being a 4-year-old?  Can you give me some advice so I don't strangle him?  I'm kidding ... I wouldn't really strangle him.  Maybe.  :)

Seriously, I am to the point where I hate sitting down for supper with my family.  That's not a good thing.  I would sacrifice eating hot food in order to have a nice, quiet, peaceful meal ... alone.

Help?  Anyone?


Laura said...

Ugh... that sounds awful! I haven't been there yet but I will offer my thoughts.

I remember reading (I think in Dare to Discipline by Dobson) about kids refusing to eat. He says you can't make them eat so don't try that route. Just say ok and the next time they come to you hungry pull out their dinner plate.

If you tell him that will be his breakfast then that needs to be his breakfast. If it is things he has eaten before without problems then you know it is not that he doesn't like the food. I would honestly keep pulling that same plate out until he ate it. Eventually he will get hungry enough and eat. Also... maybe if he doesn't eat his meals he only gets water to drink. Just a thought.

It's a battle of the wills and you need to win.

I also wouldn't let him sit at the table screaming. A lot of times when I tell Liza it's time to eat she will say something like "I'm not hungry." I say that's ok but if you don't come to eat with us then you have to sit in your bed while the rest of us eat. She usually chooses to eat. But if she didn't she would be sitting in bed.

Just another thought that popped in my head... perhaps try a completely different approach. Pick a meal you KNOW he likes that is easy to make and ask him to help you cook. Maybe that will get him excited about it all and he will sit down and eat it and forget about the fight. Maybe.

Hope you figure something out soon! Battles like this are exhausting! Oh... or maybe he needs an award... like if he eats his meals well without fighting seven days in a row then you will take him to Wendy's or something. Then again... maybe you don't want to start with that haha.

Jenn said...

Laura has great advice! My Alice nad your Alex could be twins. See one more thing alike. Weird :) We did the plate thing. She ate it for dinner, breakfast and then at lunch she finally gave in. We gave her NOTHING else. She could have water. That was it! It was harder on me than her. She is just as strong willed. Remeber this though. That will, the one you don't know what to do with now, will one day prove to be the driving factor in his life! He will be stong and mighty. Love, Jenn

Tiffany said...

I was actually going to post a similar problem on my blog with my 2 year old. He will eat, but only certain meals. I can't get him to eat what we eat. He pretty much eats the same thing every day. I know he's getting his nutrition because it's a pretty varied menu with all the components, but I'm tired of making his dinner seperate. He thows the biggest fits if we try and feed him anything new. I like Lauras advice. I hadn't thought about making him eat the same thing for breakfast, but I'm not sure if he's old enough to understand that yet or not. Anyway, my point is, I feel your pain and hope we can both figure out what to do :)

kathryn said...

I've sent a link to this post to my sister, Laura. If anyone can relate, it's her! She WAS Alex...and is now a mom herself.

Oh, man...the stories she can tell...about falling asleep at the table 'cause my parents wouldn't let her leave till she ate...

I'll be curious to see what she can come up with. I haven' a clue...must be so frustrating!

Laura said...

Ok so Sister of Kathy, Laura here: Yes, I do have experience with this issue both as a (child) participant, and as a Mom. As a child I can say that most meals were torturous for me and with good cause. I did not like lima beans, nor did I care for bloody chicken (sorry Mom, but those legs were never totally cooked through), or some other concoction that involved different types of food touching each other. Anyone who is a Mom can understand this: Kids do not like food when it is touching other food. You can explain to death that it all ends up touching each other in your stomach, but it doesn’t matter. Compound the situation by having a friggin lima bean touching meatloaf and I would almost pass out. So Yeah, there I was, kitchen lights out, sitting alone in the dark in front of a cold plate of food that I refused to eat during dinner and Oh yes, it gets better, my Dad scraped it all together into one huge pile. I can still, some 40+ years later, remember the terrible time of trying to choke down enough so they would release me back to my bedroom where my sisters would greet me with sympathetic hugs and encouragement. I tried, as best I could, to “cover up” my lack of eating by literally covering my plate with my napkin, but it didn’t take long for them to figure that one out. I can also thank my brother (THANKS ROB) for pointing it out when they didn’t notice. So by now you’ve figured out that dinnertime was not my favorite meal. Lunch was also disturbing on many levels as my Mom would put butter on our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She would also make us bologna sandwiches a week in advance and freeze them. Breakfast was the best: Rice puffs with about 10 tablespoons of sugar. For whatever reason, this meal was not supervised and I took well advantage. Ok so I have a knot in my stomach now - time to leave these disturbing memories and move up about 25 years to my own children when they were young. I have two girls, almost 5 years apart, and they are definitely unique when compared. The one thing they do have in common is that they are picky eaters. I remember taking Carolyn at about 4 years old to the doctor and telling him that she wasn’t eating (because she was picky) and him saying that she obviously WAS eating, because she looked fine! He said not to worry, and definitely, not to make an issue about it. This stuck with me because of my “personal history” and my parents making a VERY big deal about my eating habits/choices. SO, from that point forward, I promised myself that I would not make an issue of it and instead, yeah, try to serve things they like. To date, Carolyn (17 now) and Sarah still won’t eat friggin pork chops. Their version of “salad” is “lettuce” and I don’t think they’ve ever eaten fish in their entire lives. (I just couldn’t get them to do it, and so it never happened.). My advice to anyone having trouble feeding their kids would be: try to be flexible (I get my fill of pork chops when they’re not around), work with the basics and for God sakes keep those foods in their respective corners (chicken, ground beef, pasta, fruit - - nothing fancy). I assure you that over time they’ll start to open up to trying new things. I got mine started by bating one against the other - - competition does work, and so we have our very own “fear factor” show but with potato salad instead of live insects! Nowadays I can finally get them each to try a small spoonful of something without it being a half hour discussion. I think they realize as they get older that it actually won’t kill them just to try a small spoonful. Bottom line is that I think if you make a big deal about it, then it becomes a big deal – so keep it light. Good Luck!

Kimberly said...

Thanks to everyone for their advice/suggestions! We're working on the problem.

Laura, Kathryn's sister - you two must be a blast to be around when you are together! You had me laughing throughout your entire comment!

My kids don't like their food to touch either, so casseroles don't happen too often here. Even when we have salad (like last night), they pile everything separately. I don't care as long as they eat something and try new things occasionally.

I know Alex and I will get through this rough (food) patch. I will just need a great deal of patience in the meantime. :)