Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Never Say Never

You know we've all done it. Especially we mothers. When we were younger and growing up in our parents' house, our mom or dad would punish us or discipline us in such a way that we would say "I'll never do that to my kids!" Now, as a mom myself, I can very accurately say... HA! Yeah I will!

To be honest, I have no recollection whether or not my parents made me, or my brothers, sit at the dinner table until we ate our vegetables. I don't think that it was one of the discipline measures my parents had to take (not because I was so great at eating veggies but because they more likely employed the "go to your room" consequence) but it is a classic parenting technique, right?

Drew's been having a hard time lately eating dinner. He loves breakfast, and probably eats the best at lunch, but for whatever reason he doesn't seem to like dinner. Unless we're having cheeseburgers or pizza, he can sit at the table while Brad and I eat and leave his plate untouched. I at least like for him to eat his veggies, so we've been telling him he will not be able to have a bedtime snack unless he eats. This works, as Brad and I stick to our guns and follow through with the consequence, but it doesn't get Drew to eat and it doesn't stop him from asking for a snack 10 minutes after he gets down from the table. So last night, I decided to try something new.

"Drew, you have two choices. You can either eat your veggies, or you can sit at the table until bed time [two hours away!]."

I don't think he totally understood.

Thankfully, after I had the dishes cleaned up and left the kitchen, Drew got a bit more anxious about his punishment, and after about 30 minutes opted to eat his beans.

Believe me, if that kid had to sit there for two hours, I would have let him. It was a battle of wills. And Drew wasn't going to win.

I'm open to ideas and tips on how to get a toddler to eat. I'll try just about anything...


  1. I really can't offer any help. Grace is the same way, she even goes as far as telling me she "doesn't have to eat!" Grace is not a big snacker so I just tell her that if she doesn't eat her dinner then she can't have anything else later, like juice, milk etc until she eats her dinner. (so I will put it in the fridge) Sometimes she is hungry 10 minutes later and will sit down and eat her dinner and sometimes she won't eat at all that night. Toddlers are so crazy, last weekend Grace barely ate anything for me at any meal but then week at daycare she is eating like there is no tomorrow. I know I was one who said I will never do that ot my kid and I have done it. It is true we do turn into our parents!

  2. Here are my strategies, which sometimes work and sometimes don't. ;)

    I have put their plate in the fridge and offered it back to the kids when they asked for a snack later.

    I make them sit there until everybody is done eating. Sometimes they eat more while they are waiting.

    You could also do a "two bite" rule that you have to take at least two bites of everything. Some people do the child's age in bites. But I'm not a fan of forcing a kid to clean their plate because I don't want to encourage them to ignore their body's signal that they are full.

    I also have disallowed evening snacks if they don't eat their dinner. I think sometimes they eat less dinner because the snack food is more desirable. Perhaps snacks after dinner are bad in general?

    - amber

  3. I agree with Amber for most of the ideas. I've never tried making them sit until they eat everything. I've put their plate in the fridge and then that's what they can have for snack later. However, I don't like to encourage the idea that the kitchen is a restaurant and there's food available all the time. I've had it before where they eat two or three helpings of supper at 8:30pm!

    I'm more likely to take away their bedtime snack of cereal. In fact, if their behavior at supper time warrants it, I've taken that treat away for a week at a time. Horrible, I know!

    It's hard to know what to do: they are growing kids who need to eat a lot, however, they may just not be hungry sometimes. And it may not have anything to do with what you've fixed.
    Good luck!