Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Battle is On

Day three of blogging and I'm totally enjoying it! I'm on a roll :)

We have been having a battle at our house lately...well since about the day Miss M turned 3. The battle is dinner. Breakfast and lunch go relatively smoothly, partly because we do about the same thing every day. I change it up a little here and there, but those first two meals are very routine. So, first thing I learned through this is how much Miss M needs routine in her life. As soon as I change the scenario...chaos...

Back to the battle...I dread dinner. I turn into a monster and Prince Charming turns into I don't know what, but whatever it is drives me crazy! He is very patient with her in this situation and really tries to talk her through it, that's where I lose my mind. Just eat because it's dinner, I cooked it and it's in front of you (I hear Dr. Phil in my ear saying, "howz that workin' for ya?")

So yesterday I'm at my ladies Bible Study (which I haven't attended more than half a dozen times since January thanks to all the germs my children seem to enjoy ingesting) and they start talking about how when they're kids were young they made them eat dinner. Now, most of these women in this convo have either adult children or young teens. But I suppose nothing is new under the sun and they fought the same battle.

Below are the "take home points" I heard during that convo...
1. If they say eeeww or yuck they get a double portion.
2. If they say I don't like it they get one extra spoonful.
3. They have to learn to eat with out complaining at home so they are polite when they are at someone elses house.

These things sound great, number three is simply common sense. But I stood there and listened and finally said, in reference to number 1 & 2, "how did you get them to eat it?" They just looked at me like I had asked them "how do you get your four year old to stand on one foot on the very top of your roof?" Clearly it hadn't dawned on them that there are four year olds out there that will happily watch you pile on an entire plate of string beans, they're still not going to eat them. I had to take this information home and ponder.

So that's what I did. I pondered. I thought about the three points mentioned above, I thought about my friend Kate and some of the "tricks" she has tried with her kids and I thought about Miss M and what makes her tick. I then laid out my battle plan.

First, I wrote down four rules on a chart: (the teacher in me came flooding out)
1. Sit in your seat
2. Keep food on your plate
3. Eat all that you've been given
4. Be polite (please and thank you, use your fork, ask to be excused)

Then, I wrote down consequences:
1. you will sit at the table until you finish what you've been given
2. no dessert/snacks if you don't eat
3. if you say "I don't like that" you will get another spoonful to eat (I do like the thought behind this, I get a lot of whining about what she doesn't like)

Finally, I wrote "Look who obeyed" at the bottom of the chart. In that spot, if she obeys the rules she can place a sticker on the chart. When she gets five stickers she can go to the dollar store and pick out one thing (she loves this prize).

We went over it all last night and we implemented the rules. Prince Charming wasn't real thrilled, but he went along with it. Miss M did great, now we had a meal that should be easy for her to eat. That doesn't always matter, but it helped last night for her to be successful the first time. She placed a sticker on the chart, so did JB (his don't really count).

We'll see how tonight goes. But dinner last night was not a battle. Hopefully we will be victorious...only to find out what the next war will be over...dare I guess it will be getting dressed by yourself?!?!?!


  1. Sounds like a good plan. Hope tonight goes well. I'm about to rework a dinner plan too cause I cannot handle the coaching to eat. Just eat it for goodness sake! There are kids starving in china! LOL. I've heard not to make meal time a battle, but that just doesn't work for Q.
    Its good you started with a meal that was successful for her, that's important to start on success! (longest comment ever!)

  2. great plan - we also used to make them eat the number of bites for how old they were - you could try that with the amount - now, can you tell me how to get a teenager to stop eating!!!!

  3. Did I ever tell you about the time we MADE Laureen eat all of her stew and then later she threw it all up on the couch??? I think she was about 4.

    This is almost every parents battle. Maybe try smaller portions. My kids seemed to prefer raw vegetables, Amy dumps 1/2 jar of applesauce on her veggies and Anthony just swallows some whole (like a pill) with a glass of milk. We'll all look back and giggle a bit. Enjoy these battles, 4 year olds grow up before we know it.

  4. We have been on this road much longer than I would care to recall, bleh. Thankfully my kids are older and it's easier now. My middle is the toughest, since he's so underweight & has a sensitive tummy, going to bed hungry was just never an option. I like the rules, and we have the 'one bite' rule too. They have to at least try one bite of something, and they have to do it w/o complaining. Oh, and I do not answer pre-dinner questions. I do not want to hear it if you disapprove of what we are having, because it's disrespectful.
    Oh, and E will eat just about anything if I let him drench it in ketchup, lol.