Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Fight

Can any of you who have older kids tell me that mealtimes will eventually get better? Right now, sitting down to dinner is just about my least favorite part of the day- I need some hope that this will someday change. I insist that we eat dinner as a family each night, spend some time together, discuss how our days went, yada yada. I'm starting to think I need to set up permanent TV trays in front of the couch and discourage discussion and interaction as much as possible.

What is the problem? Well, our problems are two-fold. First, Connor still has only a short list of foods that he deems acceptable. Unfortunately, he has decided lately that he's bored with all of those foods. So basically, no matter what I put in front of him- whether it's chicken nuggets or broccoli- he will sit and pick at and then ask if he can be done. We say sure, but no dessert. Then the waterworks start, because he obviously has low blood sugar and is bitchy. Now, I'm not losing sleep at night because my son didn't get dessert, but I really don't like having each meal end in tears.

Our other problem is Chloe. This problem is not tied directly to the act of eating. It's just her very existence right now. It seems that the universe is balancing itself out after years of perfect behavior. She turned four, and is now an unholy terror. Don't let the rosy cheeks and long eyelashes lull you into a false sense of security. She's a monster. So each night of dinner with her is a struggle, simply because every minute with her is a struggle. She'll pick something bad to do at dinner, and we'll say, "Quit doing that bad thing or else you will get in some specific form of trouble." Then she does that thing again, she gets her punishment, and she loses her mind completely. It's easier to ignore the ensuing tantrum when we aren't all sitting there trying to have dinner. For some reason it's much worse for the rest of us during mealtime. Especially Connor. He's too hungry to deal with all that!

In happier dining news, we took the kids and assorted grandparents to try out the new Thyme Bistro recently, and the kids were on their best behavior. We wrote about it here.

6 comments:

Ed said...

oh dear..
I'm sorry. I have no good advice for Connor. We were very firm with my kid (now nine) that she could either eat what we give her, or not at all. The rule always was, she didn't have to like the things we gave her, but she had to try it. Next time, we'd take her feelings into account and try to make her something different. It paid off for us.

It probably helps that we only had one at the time..

Sassy Molassy said...

What worked with us with JP was that we started making him try one bite of one thing, and if he made a big deal about it, he had to leave the room and got no other food. he was also made to understand that if he wanted to continue having the meal of his choice every night, this was the non-negotiable deal. There were surprisingly few struggles considering the extent of his issues. Tonight he ate half an ear of fresh corn, six bites of grilled pork chop, and only balked at the single bite of mashed potato, but he did eat it.

As for Chloe, what has worked for us with various kids, especially the drama-prone girls who shall remain nameless (cough, Miss M, cough) was that we said at a separate time one day "Here is the deal. If you do anything other than sit at the table and eat without complaining, you will go to your room and get no other food. You can make yourself miserable, but you will not ruin anyone else's dinner." Anyone who acts up at dinner is immediately removed from the room, sometimes bodily, by an adult. Desperate times...

Now don't get me wrong, mealtimes with all six kids are still somewhat horrible, but it's less about specific kids' issues and more just sheer volume.

Stephanie said...

I have to say, I've actually tried some of Sassy's methods in the past. The problem is, with six kids ( and three adults) you can handle it if one person freaks out and gets sent away, etc. But with only four people at the table, it's a huge issue when one person is in their room, or sitting at a different table eating, or screaming from somewhere in the house. At least, I imagine it loses its shock value when there are nine people around. I could be wrong. The gist of this long story is, I use you as a guide a lot of the times, but I'm still struggling.

Sassy Molassy said...

I know it feels mean and extreme, but the thing is, once they see that you'll really do it, you won't have to do it many more times. We have stressed to the kids repeatedly that they do not have the right to ruin anyone else's meal. They can eat and act civilized, or they can go be alone. Also, having them upstairs screaming can't possibly be as unpleasant as having them right next to you screaming.

RJA said...

You have a nice TV. Use it.

Cathy said...

Steph, we remove Charlie from the table (he's in his high drama phase, too). He almost always turns on the tears and the screaming, so we close him in his room and tell him he can come out when he's ready to calm down. This usually makes him scream more, but he does eventually calm down, and return to the table. Dinner is always ruined on these days since his room is just steps away from the kitchen, but we are seeing these episodes less and less, and the time it takes him to calm down is dwindling, too. Improvement!