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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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  2. OMG. My daughter is the same way. I swear she lives on air and sunshine alone.

    We stopped stressing about them eating all their dinner for a while until they figured out we wouldn't send them to bed hungry. So, a measly few bites of dinner and as soon as it is time to brush teeth the wailing would begin. "But I am so HUNGRY. I'm STARVING." Instant 1/2 hour to hour reprieve on bedtime while we tried to figure out what they would eat that we could make fast. (And I admit to being the evil mother who sent her kids to bed hungry several times.) Kids.

    Now we are back to watching their bite count and not letting them leave the table until at least half their plate-worth is gone. I mentally appologize to my own mother every night.

    The one thing that works, sometimes, is that we have a reward program. If they eat dinner with no tears they get a star on the reward board. 30 stars and they get to pick a prize under $10. Bribery. It works. Occasionally. Sometimes they value the drama over the star. /grin

    (This comment was much beter with paragraph breaks)

  3. It has been a few years... but I remember my kids not eating well at dinner, but scarfing down everything in sight at breakfast. I concentrated on feeding them up early in the day on everything they would eat. As our family increased, we ended up with 6 children, the competiveness kicked in. We hardly had anything left after a meal. Of course, they were pre-teens, teenagers or just barely 20. Pray about what is the most important thing, installing your love or getting them to eat. They do survive.

  4. Those pictures both break my heart and make me smile. I am well acquainted with her drama!!


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