Picky eater battle wounds run deep. Kids can be unpredictable at the best of times. I cannot even count the number of supper-time stand-offs I have endured. It’s beyond picky. It’s an all-out refusal to eat. Just. Because.
I’m sure the wonderful woman who looks after C during the day is reading this and wondering what the heck I’m going on about. He always eats well there! That’s true – his meal strike is often a selective endeavor. He eats only outside the walls of our own home. At home it’s a constant battleground rife with negotiations, stand-offs, and starvation strikes.
A Typical Meal Exchange:
C and I make supper together (because as the experts say, the best chance of getting them to eat it is to get the kids involved in making it).
Me: Stirs pot (both literally and figuratively)…”Mmm…this is going to be so yummy!”
C: “Yup it sure is!”
Me: Spoons out portions for mommy, daddy, and C and places food on the table.
C: “I don’t think I’m going to like this!”
Me: “You just made it with mommy! And you said it was going to be yummy! Of course you’ll like it!”
C: “I don’t think so…” (eyes plate suspiciously)
Me: “You need to try it.”
C: Takes one bite. “Ok I tried it. I don’t like it!”
Me: “You need to eat more or you’ll go to bed hungry!” (frustration level rising)
C: “Ok I’ll go to bed hungry.”
Me: Deep sigh. “Uggghhhh….okay 5 more bites”
C: Takes 5 bites.
Me: “Is your tummy full?”
C: “Yes.” Asks to be excused.
Me: Gives in
***1 hour later****
C: In bed. Hungry. Crying for food.
Me: Gives him the leftover supper to finish
C: Is victorious because he has successfully avoided both supper and bedtime in a double whammy toddler conspiracy.
I know what you’re thinking. There is just so much wrong with this picture.
Some notable errors:
Error #1: Making a big deal about mealtime instead of just letting it play out.
Error #2: Bargaining – the “just try it” trap
Error #3: Continued bargaining – giving a set amount of bites to fixate on and therefore squirm out of supper
Error #4: Letting him get out of bed to finish supper. I’m weak. I know.
So now that we’ve established I’m pretty much the worst mother ever…(Where do you think you are anyway? Have you even read my blog title?) Onto my final act of redemption!
Overcoming Picky Eater Syndrome: The one tip you haven’t yet tried…
Tonight at supper instead of going through another variation of the scene described above, I decided to try something new.
If you know anything about C, it’s that he LOVES counting. He counts everything. How many minutes until we get somewhere. How many weeks until his birthday, his friend’s birthdays, and Christmas. How many years I’ve known daddy. How many years until he’s a big boy. How many days until the weekend.
Knowing this, I changed my tactic. Instead of insisting on a prescribed number of bites, I decided to suggest that he count the number of bites it would take him to finish his whole meal. The answer: 32!
I never give him larger than a toddler amount of food on his plate so “finishing his meal” was certainly not a difficult feat. Faced with a new counting challenge he just couldn’t resist, especially when I said I would text Baba how many bites he counted up to after he finished his supper!
Me: **throws down mic
I did it. #GoodEnough