Tears and drama at meal time!
While much of what you see of my little man is him tucking into veggies and healthy food, please rest assured I also face the tears, tantrums and chaos at meal times sometimes!
You know the… ‘I don’t like it’ and ‘it’s yucky’ thing, oh plus the MEGA melt downs. Case in point tonight with veggie soup which caused floods of tears, even though he had it for lunch yesterday and ate it all 😉
The thing for me though, is I ABSOULTELY do not buy into the drama of these episodes and as such, they are quite rare and don’t last that long. Also, I realise that sometimes, all these things are about is the fact they are JUST not hungry enough. Toddlers appetites vary hugely and sometimes, they just don’t need to eat that much
When Zac has one of his melt downs, I calmly say ‘I’m sorry you feel like that, but there is nothing else to eat tonight so if you don’t want to have what is on offer, then you can get down from the table and wait for breakfast tomorrow’. I avoid bribes, avoid the ‘MAKING him have a bite’ most of the time (useless it’s only strategic), I don’t make a fuss of it and if he does go without dinner for a few nights, he will not starve. Yes, I have let him go to bed with no dinner and no, he didn’t die, nor did I make a fuss of it – when the initial conversation about him not wanting to eat dinner was over, I let him know, if he wanted anything to eat tonight, he could have his dinner at any time, and then we carried on with the normal evening routine, calm and relaxed.
If he doesn’t eat at least some part of the meal I very rarely offer him anything else (occasionally raw veg, dry crackers or something equally unexciting if half the issue was he was probably too tired at dinner and as we ALL know, when toddlers are tired, emotions fly high). 95% of the time even if it’s 2 hours later, he will eat some of what I originally offered. He has only been to bed without dinner I would say, twice – maybe three times.
This may sound harsh to some, but when he was born given my huge interest and passion in food psychology and food behaviour, I promised I would never buy into any of the drama kids have around food, and to date I never have and hopefully never will. When I was a kid, I ate what I was given, my mum and dad often had no food at all when they were kids, but now in an environment of plenty – our kids often don’t know how lucky they are to have anything at all.
When you see what kids eat in parts of the world when they have next to no food or in places like Japan where every kid at lunch has EXACTLY the same thing and they eat it all (plus when you look into the research behind it) the truth is that what kids eat, how they eat and what they like to eat is LEARNT. Yes some foods will taste like dirt to them initially, yes there are those kids with taste disorders, learning difficulties and all sorts of other issues who need specific help and guidance, but for the average child, they can learn to like healthy food. HARD I know when parties are full of lollies, cake and crap… and we are short on time and quick highly processed food options are everywhere we look, but – we can’t let that beat us. I want to work to help people get away from dinner time stress and drama!!
Even though every waking moment of my life for the last 17 years I have been engrossed in all things food and nutrition, I actually don’t make a big deal about food in our house – especially with Zac. I let what we have available in the house do the talking. I have never never said the words good or bad in regards to food, and actually haven’t as yet ever said something was healthy or not – I just say, this is food we have lots of and makes us feel good and this is food we don’t really have that much of (like cake, chocolate and chippies).
Toddlers have very little they can control in their world other than their behaviour, if they choose to close those eyes or not when they need to sleep (but are clearly sure they know better and refuse to sleep) and…what they put in their mouths. Because kids need to eat food, here starts the biggest battle I hear sooooo many parents face.
I REALLY do know how hard this is… parenting is a CRAZY task and while I don’t struggle on the food side, I sure as heck do on the others!!!!
The reason I wanted to write this today was to see what you struggle with the most? And if you would like help with this area?
I feel like this is something I really want to tackle and help parents with but first – I would LOVE to know what your experiences are, what you have tried, what is the hardest thing, what you would LOVE the answer to when it comes to your kids and food?
Any ideas about what kind of advice, programme or event you think might help would be great to know about so I can sort it for you and help DITCH THE DRAMA!!!!!!!
Have a great evening – not sure if Zac will eat the soup or not yet, ha ha ha….. xx