Defiance at mealtimes

Oh, we're done with all that vegetable-steaming and mess, our children are cutlery-wielding, spaghetti-chomping angels... at least some of the time.

Defiance at mealtimes

Postby KateGladTidings » 27 Apr 2012, 17:51

Ooh, look at me posting about food!

Roo has been really awkward at dinner times this week. He just doesn't sit still and pushes food away saying things like "it's very, very hot" when it's not. We're having to cajole him and feed him cause he definitely IS hungry, he's just asserting his authority for some reason. It's always food that he likes (he did this with sausages and wedges on wednesday - how can any toddler reject that?!) and once he finally eats, he always says it's "nummy".

Question is, what to do? Dh has been late home recently and we've been eating at 6:30, so I wondered whether it was just too late for him and he was overtired. Today was 6:00 and no better. Any earlier and we def can't eat togther (I know this will all shortly become irrelevant as I doubt we'll have regular family meals for a while after the baby arrives!). Don't know if it's to do with the baby and his need to control his own life in some way, or just nearly-3 yr old defiance but any advice welcome!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby Violet_Cue » 28 Apr 2012, 02:23

No experience... but I think it could be a control thing. Can you give him options? Even as simple as "do you want two things on your plate or one at a time? Do you want sausages first? Or wedges first?" At the very least testing it out might give you an idea if it is control.

Or you could follow along and stick his food in the fridge for 2 minutes... so that you are still specially attending to his needs (might be an attention thing with baby?) without actually going out of your way or fighting...

Random thoughts... :)
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby KateGladTidings » 28 Apr 2012, 06:33

Thanks Kynlindryl - we always have done the "what next, sausage or wedge?" Thing when he's being cajoled, so that he is still in control of what he eats. But now he just doesn't even want to cone to the table...and he is definitely hungry!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby KateGladTidings » 28 Apr 2012, 06:49

Just another example - this morning, he's cut his breakfast pancake into the tiniest bits and eating it a crumb at a time with a spoon. He knows exactly what he's doing - he's saying "tiny bits, big mess" and again I guess it's a control thing. He also overstuffs his mouth and then spits it out.
I remember similar behaviour from my nieces and nephews around the same age and it's all very delibrate...but I just don't know what to do about it!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby CherryPop » 28 Apr 2012, 07:03

Kate wrote:...again I guess it's a control thing.


I would agree. Let him knock himself out - ignore, ignore, ignore.

We have the 'too hot' thing at dinner, and so he sits and waits until it's cool enough. If that means sitting until it's stone cold, then so be it. If he continues to complain, we'll just say "Blow it" or "It seems fine to me" and carry on our conversation. I sit next to him to it's easy not to make eye contact, and to angle my body slightly towards DH so that he's a bit cut out of the conversation. The second he starts to eat, I'll turn my body back towards him again and include him in the conversation.

At breakfast, I'm not so fussed about us all eating together so I would have to say something like "Oh, I've finished eating now since you're taking so long, so I'm going to go and clean up the kitchen. When you've finished eating, you can clear up that mess and bring me your plate". I'd obviously help with the clearing up if he wasn't capable of doing it, but I know that Jacob is capable of clearing up a mess now, so if he'd purposefully made one, he'd need to at least make an attempt to clear it up.

I wouldn't fall into the trap of pandering to him and feeding him - like you say, you *know* he's hungry. He knows it too, and he won't starve! The more you cajole, the nicer it feels because he's getting bucketfuls of attention. Remove that attention, and reinstate it each and every time he eats nicely. That doesn't mean you have to give specific praise when he's eating, just ignore, then include.

Good luck!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby KateGladTidings » 28 Apr 2012, 07:29

Thanks Cherry - it's really hard not to rise to it! Why are nearly-3s so arsey??
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby Fozza » 28 Apr 2012, 07:37

Z is doing this too. Partly I think he's not 'that' hungry and can go without dinner if he chooses. Obv I'd rather he didn't but I can't let it bother me. I try not to cajole (I do remind him) as it just gives them attention for the controlling behavior.
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby WishingBone » 01 May 2012, 08:45

I agree, just ignore, definitely don't cajole. If he is hungry he will eat if you remove the control game/attention. Bear has tried 'too hot' (oh dear, better blow on it then), 'don't like it' (oh dear, you did yesterday) etc. If she deliberately makes a mess we give her a warning then end the meal, which means if she is making a mess she's usually not that hungry and isn't bothered when we take her dinner away. He won't starve!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby blackberrycrimble » 01 May 2012, 09:06

Yup, i agree. Ignore as much as you can, positive reinforecement when he tries things without a fuss, etc. it is difficult but definitely the way to deal with otherwise you will be spoon feeding him everything before you know it!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby Aggie » 01 May 2012, 10:39

DS went through a stage of refusing to eat whatever was served up and at first we pandered to it and gave him an alternative. We soon got fed up of it though and started to tell him that there was nothing else. The first night this meant he ate nothing and went to bed on an empty stomach (not even any milk). I was really worried that we'd have a terrible night with him waking up hungry but he slept really well! Things have been a lot better since then and we are happy if he just eats a little of what he is offered. I also serve up very small portions so that he has the opportunity to feel like he's made an effort.
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby KateGladTidings » 01 May 2012, 11:04

Thanks everyone. I was getting a little worried cause he does feel thin atm, and I was wondering if he just used to get all his calories at the cms (he's been with me nearly full time for 5 weeks now). He def got spoonfed there, and we have fed him a bit at home when things have got desperate. Tried some different meals the last couple of days and he's eaten fine, and on his own. Maybe part of it was boredom?

He also has a massive stubborn streak (inherited from me) and will go to bed hungry if that means he's "won" !!
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby Mummyto1 » 01 May 2012, 13:25

We used to eat at 6.30 all together but a couple of months after no. 2 arrived she used to melt down around that time, so we ended up shifting dinner to 5.30 so it was just me and L eating (and later M too). (I still refuse to cook twice so DH has the same, just when he gets back!). It did help with L's defiance I think - he was just that bit less tired. And there was no excitement at daddy just getting home, which also kept things a bit calmer.

But agree with everyone else - only option really is to ignore. So frustrating but it does get better. And in your case I think it will be helped by no. 2 arriving as well - we found L noticeably relaxed once baby was here and he realised life wasn't that different after all. I think the anticipation got all too much towards the end.
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Re: Defiance at mealtimes

Postby Disco » 01 May 2012, 13:59

I have clearly fallen off the wagon wrt good toddler led feeding practices. <Hangs head in shame> I have been cajoling and bribing just so he'd eat SOMETHING! Not every night, and sometimes it doesn't work anyway but still...

Feel free to slap my wrists.
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