Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Do You Mean You Won't Eat It

Don't tell the 4 year old that strawberries look like they have a thousand eyes!
Don't tell the 4 year old that pineapples have splinters in them!
And definitely don't tell the 4 year old that corn has hair!

If you are a parent you are well aware of the frustrations when children decide NOT to eat!

I am hear to tell you that you can teach them TO eat!

After 8 children we have yet to have one that has completely refused to eat what we ask them to eat for very long.  I'm not saying they don't refuse because at some point, they WILL.  Well, all except our first born, strong willed, curly headed child! Praise the Lord!  That child eats anything!  Well, she used to.  As for now, if it isn't healthy she isn't having it.  But honestly I can't argue about that one!  We have had other strong willed children (not to her caliber) but we found out our technique worked so we didn't let them win!  haha

This could get lengthy but if this is your battle I figure you might enjoy the suggestions.  I can't say this will work for EVERY child but it has worked for all of our children.
  • Our rule:  You don't have to like it but you MUST try it! 
Tip:  Young children love anything that deals with their name or their age.  So we quickly adapted the..."you must eat as many bites as you are old."  They kind of agree to it before they realize what the have gotten themselves into.  (Every time...every child!)   "Thank you Lord for providing that insight when I was desperate!  When I had a child refuse to eat I quickly asked the Lord for help...and He provided the idea that has worked the past 20 years!.  Ask and you shall receive!  Woohoo!

Here's an Example: if you are 3 you try 3 bites...not nibbles but real bites.  If you are 4 you eat 4 bites, if you are 5 you eat 5 bites.  (This has usually ended for us around the age of 5-6 by the way not always some agree sooner than others and others agree a lot later than some.) Somewhere around 8 or 9 they try to buck the system again but we just tell them to eat and they do...they know from experience and from whomever the current child in training in our family is at that moment...HA. 

We aren't rigged about this...meaning we all have days we just would prefer to not eat what there is to eat.  That is allowed occasionally but NOT the standard.  If we realize this has become a habit after several days we begin our 'eat your age' routine. 

Now saying all that just because they refuse to eat does not mean we let them pick something else to eat.  Don't let them convince you they will DIE!  Which they will ALL try!  (This used to freak us out with the first 2 or 3, now we just laugh at them...well, not literally or then you deal with an entirely different issue.)  The goal isn't to embarrass them or yell at them...the goal is to teach them how to be polite and eat what is offered.

If they refuse to eat their age (which will happen) we let them know that this is dinner.  They will receive no snack, desert, or food of any kind.  IF they are young enough we walk them to bed so they see there are 2 options.  #1 stay up and eat your food or #2 go to bed starving!  It is amazing how many times they will come back to the table and eat their age.  If they are older we might serve desert to everyone except for them.  Their choice...they lose!  Most won't want to miss out the next time.

Child #8 (Brady) just pulled the "I don't like it", "My food is touching each other!", "And corn has hair!" (Thank you 10 year old brother for announcing, "Look Brady, corn has hair!" Once 10 year old saw our disapproval he said, "I said look not that it did."  Doesn't matter the damage is done!  The 4 year old had enough information to end his love of corn.  This child used to eat 2-3 corn on the cob and all of a sudden tonight...that ended!) He also used to love all food but just like all the others before him he has learned to voice an opinion and is changing his norm.  Now to train him he doesn't have to like it but he must try it.

This brings us to another children are so easily swayed by one another you are not allowed to announce that you 'do not like' a certain food at the table.  If they do...anyone under 6 will agree!   
  • Rule 2: If you say you don't like it...then you get to eat yours and theirs! Trust me...this little announcement gets them quiet if they believe you! heehee
If you have a really stubborn child, which we all do at some point!  (We have had to adapt what we do, but shhhh...they don't know our secret!)  If a child refuses to eat for a couple of days in a row...I will make a dish they like for everyone to eat.  They DO not know I did this ALL for them.  All they know is the rules still apply and you must try your food.  Which of course they love!  But this way it eases my mommas heart knowing they aren't starving or near death as they like you to believe!

All children are different and you may have to find your rules that work for you and your family.  But this family of 10 has found great success with the above methods.  Definitely take THIS upon the Lord and I promise He will provide you with a solution.  And above all...make sure you and your spouse agree!  Children have a 6th sense in knowing when mom and dad are not in agreement and they will use it to their advantage.  So before you tackle the "I won't eat child" make sure you and your spouse agree upon the method you will try!

Good luck!
And yes, the 4 year old came back to the room and ate his corn.

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