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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Pandora's Box cont. (ie. Toddler eating habits)

In the past 2.5 years we have not had strict meal times. I worked late, we had a tendency to eat after Charlotte went to bed at 8pm because it was hard to schedule dinner around her meal times. She had a tendency to prefer bottles and we've struggled with getting her to eat for so long that we've often defaulted to the bottles even though her pediatrician repeatedly tells us to progress off of them.

We finally have Sam really settled in a daily routine and he's even up for eating 2-3 solid meals a day so this leaves a glaring light on our continuous problem of getting Charlotte to eat food.

I guess it's our fault as parents for not having stricter meal times. I realized this as I spoke to another dad. I mentioned we were having eating problems with Charlotte and he said his wife was very strict with meal times, everything was on a regimented schedule and I got to thinking - their boy at 4 years old has turned out very polite and a joy to be around at the dinner table - but he's still very picky and doesn't eat much variety. I don't care any more about the picky aspect, I just want her to be polite at the table!!! How do we train our daughter to be a joy at the dinner table?

So I took that little nugget and have spent the last 3 days enforcing meal times. As recent videos have shown we've had major misses and major hits. For example, I wrote the post below as Charlotte took her afternoon nap. When she woke up she willingly sat at the table and ate an entire bowl of applesauce AND asked for more!!! I was astonished to say the least.

She sat for 4 meals yesterday. Today it's been 2.

We continue to get aggressive and passive meals and one thing we are tired of is sitting through an entire meal with screaming. Honestly it's just completely unacceptable and there has to be a way to show her this is totally wrong without screaming back or giving in and letting her down.

This morning husband employed a strategy I've never seen before. At breakfast Charlotte started freaking out by rocking back and forth wildly in her chair and screaming "no breakfast". Husband picked up the entire child and chair and put her in the dark in the bathroom for 2 minutes. She came back saying "Charlotte sad" and ate 1/2 a piece of french toast and drank a little orange juice.

For lunch we had the same resistance, she pushed her food bowl and drink roughly onto the table while screaming "no lunch". This time it was the dark laundry room for 2 minutes. She came back and ate some fettuccine sauce on elbow noodles with apple juice.

No force was used and no parents yelled, we simply put the food in front of her and asked her to eat one bite, she usually realizes it's a food she likes and willingly eats more.

We now have a weekend of consistent meals at the dinner table and hopefully going forward we can maintain this momentum.


Anonymous said...

Good for yall!!! Sometimes you have to try desperate (and different!) measures for the child to learn they can't have their way. Sounds like after much worry and disruption, yall may have found the magic potion!!!! No two children are alike so makes for interesting times when it comes to discipline techniques!!!! Glad it is getting better for yall!

Evi said...

We all have our meal battles!! I love that now you have a plan and your husband came with a strategy... that it's working!! Good job and stick to it!!

crazywildberry said...

Yup, she's testing you some more. I do like Mike's strategy. I think just putting her in her chair away from the table, turning her chair completely around so she can't see anyone, or moving her into the darkened room makes a point. You do something that is unacceptable, here's the consequence. And, no yelling, no scolding needs to take place. The point was made. Good idea! And the result was a positive one! :) Keep us posted! I have high hopes for you and Charlotte!

Rumour Miller said...

We've all been there and it is not fun! I really try not to make an issue out of food but I'm not a short order cook either. If I make something I know the kids don't like then I will get them something different.

If they don't eat, they don't get anything else before bed either.

I don't usually have a problem with breakfast and lunch.

Amy Sullivan said...

Hey Girl, you are up at my place! Thanks so much for "hangin"out with me today!

Unpolished Parenting said...

Glad some progress is being made! Hang in there :)

Caterina said...

I read this post outloud to my husband while driving in the car. For some reason, when I read "Charlotte sad" we both busted out laughing. Sorry. But trust me, there was no disrespect, instead sympathy and total understanding. Completely grasp the frustration.

Hang in there!