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.