More a request for help than an actual idea.
Katherine refuses to eat supper. Most nights it ends with her half-finished plate getting dumped in the trash and her saying she’s hungry 15 minutes later. It’s infuriating, and I have no clue what to try next. The thing that frustrates me the most is that we’ve proven it is the time, not the food that she argues with. We could serve her favorite meal, and if it is for supper, she won’t eat it. And it’s been this way for almost two years now.
Here’s what we’ve tried so far:
- Force–We tried this at first for her “own good,” but how good can it be to instill such an unhealthy relationship with food? Plus, I don’t believe that force is the correct answer in 99% of situations with kids. The idea of cleaning your plate is ingrained in our society, but it creates an idea where “full” is determined more by plate size and the quantity of food thereon rather than any actual physical triggers within your body. No… forcing her to eat her food or clear her plate isn’t the answer if only for the unhealthy attitudes it teaches her.
- Smaller portions–We were sure this would work, but it doesn’t. We figured that maybe she really is full, so why not serve less food in an effort to get her to at least eat that. Nope. Tonight’s episode involved me making a minuscule burrito (a food she likes). She took two bites and declared herself done. Sigh…. We’ve even let her prepare her own food (tonight, again, being a good example). The first burrito she made, she didn’t even take a bite. She made it and declared herself done. A second chance (and a second burrito) resulted in the two bites.
- No snacks–Surely this should work. We’ve stopped giving her snacks for the two or three hours before supper thinking that we could help drive an appetite. Apparently not.
- No food after supper unless she eats her food–Let me be absolutely clear on this one; I hate this technique. I feel like I’m abusing her. I feel like a bad parent when I do it. But I will, and do, do it. This rule came about because she would declare herself done with her meal, get down, and promptly announce that she was hungry 15 minutes later (or later on that evening). We quickly realized that she was thinking that she could get out of supper without going hungry. Not on my watch. I expect tonight to be particularly painful for all of us. She’ll certainly be hungry by the time bedtime rolls around, and you can be sure she’ll go to bed hungry. As much as I hate it and as much as it truly hurts me to see her hungry, she will go to bed hungry.
- Making her sit at the table while everyone else eats–When she started getting down before everyone else, we found that she often just wanted to play with toys. Simple solution: make her sit at the table. But it still hasn’t helped her return her attention to the idea of eating food. More often than not, she just sulks at the table.
- Make her favorite foods–Again, we do. Occasionally, we serve something she doesn’t like, but she enjoys 95% of what we serve. And again, if we serve the same meal for lunch, she eats it with gusto. It’s only supper time…. And it doesn’t matter where, either. We were at Nosurfgirl’s house this Sunday for supper, and Katherine ate maybe three bites of her baked potato, a food that she truly enjoys.
- Make her sit at the table until she eats it–Now this one works with partial success, but I kid you not when I tell you she’s sat there for upwards of 3 to 4 hours. Dead serious. I can’t deal with that emotionally because it frustrates me so much. After 4 hours of hearing her whine and cry at the table, I’m usually near-raving. More often than not, these nights end with daddy breathing down her neck like a vulture as she eats her food between sobs.
This method might have more success if I could disassociate myself from the experience, but I have a very hard time with that. Simply put, I care too much. That and it is such a disruption in our small home to have her sitting in the kitchen whining and crying.
- Force-feed her–Ah… back to the force issue. You know my initial concerns with forcing her, but I also strongly dislike the idea that I have to feed a four-year-old.
Right now, we’re using a combination of just about all of these, but I can’t tell you how much this frustrates me. She’s been doing this for almost two years, and I can honestly say that we’ve rarely, if ever, encouraged the wrong behavior in her. We’ve stuck the line from day one in the hopes that she’d quickly learn and change. Uh, no.
It seems her will power is equal to my own (HELP! WE’RE DOOMED!!!). This child will surely be the death of me.
Good thing I adore her.
I just wish I knew what to do.