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Thursday, March 6, 2014

On Dinner with Picky Eaters

2 pepperonis
1/2 a carrot
Slice of bread
Peach yogurt
3 forkfuls of rice

No that isn't some freaky recipe - it's the sum total of everything my daughter has eaten for dinner in the past 5 days. My beautiful girl is our worst eater by far right now. The pictures above are the reaction I got at lunch yesterday when I asked her to please eat her apples. Apples people. Apples. 

We've been doing this parenting thing for almost 5 years now and our stance on dinner has run the gamut from, "you must take X number of bites before leaving the table" to "if you're not going to eat, at least leave the kitchen so the rest of us can eat in peace, and back again.

The Squirt has been a pretty solid eater since he turned 4 - there are definitely foods he'll refuse, but he eats a decent amount of what we put in front of him and he'll usually try new things if we ask nicely. Blue Eyes (almost 2) is hit or miss. Some things he'll scarf and other things he'll refuse, but one look at the boy lets you know he's not missing many meals.

But Sweet B. That girl hasn't eaten anything that would pass for dinner in EONS. It's probably been a few months since we really took a stance on her actually eating anything she didn't want to for dinner, and I go back and forth between feeling guilty about it and not having the energy to care. She'll eat when she's hungry right? Earlier this week my sister sent me this little excerpt from Mix and Match's Mama's blog and I felt like a light bulb went on.

"I really really really don't stress about what my kids eat at dinner. Andrew and I really want our kids to focus on family time and to enjoy sitting down at the table with us. It's a great time for us to talk about our days and bond over our meal. Some parents' main priority at the dinner table is getting their kids to eat...our goal, is getting our kids to share with us what's going on inside their little heads."

This. We can take a stand like this and be comfortable with our decision. I love this perspective. Dinner is about being together as a family and making being together something that's actually positive. I desperately want my kids to remember time around the table fondly and not merely as a battle ground.

So how do you handle picky eaters at the dinner table? (Or how did you handle it when your kids were little?) Do you have a family policy or do you let the kids eat what they want as they want to? 

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