It's good to read the different perspectives.
This is why I feel so conflicted about how hard to push the food issue.
I remember as a kid having to finish my food before being allowed to leave the table. As an adult I still love foods from my childhood and consider myself to be not fussy and love my veggies. I do however have portion control problems.
I guess if healthy foods are what is available and offered most of the time, then it should be a good start. From what lots of people say, most kids do get better with age, so fingers crossed.
I agree with many other posts, my 3yo DS is given the same meal as us, as I am not cooking different meals to order, and if he refuses to eat stuff I know he likes simply through fussiness then there is no alternative and no dessert. He usually ends up happily eating it a little while later, and we praise even a few spoonfuls. But I would never make him clear his plate. He chooses how much to eat, within reason, and we will encourage him to have more if its only a little bit, but not make a big deal of it as ultimately he knows the result. I believe this kind of attitude is fair and encourages healthy attitudes towards food without letting kids get away with demanding whatever they want!
I remember this with my now 14 yr old who was into playing her Nintendo when she was about 4. I said 'A meal is like a level, you eat your meal you get to go to the next one ie, dessert. You don't, you keep on the same level until you complete it.' She once stayed on the same 'level' for 2 and a half days.
I think is most definitely a difference between "clear your plate or don't leave the table" and "this is what's for dinner tonight and you need to at least taste it" if my son doesn't finish his dinner, that's ok. But we don't offer anything else. I figure that if he's not hungry enough to finish his dinner, then he's not actually all that hungry. If he really doesn't like something, there is always other foods that would be acceptable to him as well. If it's something new, ill always serve it with a side of something I know he will like. That way I know he will eat some,thing! If he eats his side and is still hungry, but not hungry enough to taste the new food, then I figure he's not that hungry!!
Agree you shouldn't force them to finish, but eating something is preferable.
DD 2 yo refused to touch a meal the other day which is usually her favourite. This had been going on for a few days.
She just threw her cutlery with a "No!" in the end. So she went to bed without her favourite teddy. She wailed for about 20 minutes before falling asleep but she ate dinner the next day.
Forcing your child to eat everything on their plate is very very different to encouraging healthy eating and trying new foods. If my children are offered a new food there is an expectation they will try it or no dessert. And if they refuse to eat a reasonable serving of their veggies in a reasonable time frame there is also no dessert- if you aren't hungry enough to eat 5 mouthfuls of veggies you certainly don't need a bowl of fruit and yoghurt. I nurse and see many children with bowel and gut issues and when you question their diets the parents admit they don't know the last time their 15 year old ate a piece of fruit or a veggie (other than potato chips)- these kids don't get this way by eating veg as babies and toddlers they get this way as they are never strongly encouraged to do something they don't want to do. They hopefully are so grossed out by 2l of movicol and massive enemas to clear their impacted bowel to make dietary changes but it's easier to make them in a 2 year old than a 15 year old.
I don't think you are a mean Mummy at all and see how she goes for a few days.
My oldest DD (9) has issues with food. Does not help she feels sick when she stresses. We have had advice for her to ensure meal times are calm and not to push anything to the point that she gets emotional, but to mainly encourage by example. There is no 'currency' attached to meal times in our house. So she tries the dinner and since things have calmed down will more often than not eat most of her dinner or 9 fork fulls. There are certain things that she flat out refuses to eat e.g rice (she was stripped naked at the table and put in the bath by her aunt because she wouldn't eat fried rice, I found out well after the fact).
I guess I could have gone down a similar path and made her eat dinner or nothing at all but after talking to Butterfly foundation (as we live with someone who is Bulimic) I am much more comfortable letting her come to it in her own time. I do try and make sure when she does eat like afternoon tea that it is healthyish food.
I don't think you are mean SPG....you need to turn things around and are being firm and have good boundaries in place.
I agree that there is a huge difference between expecting kids to clear their plate and having expectations that children will eat what you eat.
The rule in our house is `you eat until your tummy is full', I do not expect my kids to clear their plates. At the same time we never ever do dessert (there are no rewards for finishing dinner, it is just dinner, not a chore to be got through) and never ever cook separate meals. If they clear their plates and are still hungry they get more dinner dished up!
There are some foods that the kids genuinely do not like (feta cheese and olives spring to mind) but generally they eat what is served, if they don't like a particular component of a meal, they can eat around it (we never comment on this).
I don't think you are a mean mummy at all, I wish I had your strength!
My 3 year old is a terrible eater. And I know it's all my fault. She has always been petite and I worry about her size. So when she started refusing most foods at around 18 months I gave in to her just so she would eat something! Unfortunately now I'm stuck with an almost 3.5 year old whose dinners consist of either mini pizzas, crumbed chicken, sausages and vegie sticks. She won't eat anything mushy or with a sauce. So no Spag Bol, baked beans, casseroles etc. I have no idea how to break this habit. I would love to have the strength to do what you did but I don't even know where to start....just a little bit of saucy food on the side? Giving her no other option? She is so strong willed we have had hour long battles to get her to eat a pea sorry for the vent and crashing your post OP!
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