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Old 06-23-2011, 09:32 AM
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Default Food Strike...That Seems To Be Catching

I have a 4.5 year old DCB who has been on a food strike off and on for 2 months now. Some days he'll eat...some days he cries that he hates snack/lunch before he even knowns what it is. The parents and I are in agreement that it's a power struggle and we're dealing with it. Things have been getting better and he was eating without a struggle most of the time.

Until this week. He had a bad day Tuesday and decided he hated toast. Fine...you can leave the table and go read books quietly while everyone eats. Except that my dcb (4) and dcg (3.5) are now playing monkey see, monkey do and also refusing to eat. Today all three of them wouldn't eat one bite of lunch and I KNOW they were hungry. We played outside for 2.5 hours in between lunch and snack. They were starving!

Soo....what do I do? Keep excusing them and wait it out? Make them sit? Give them their snack or lunch at the next food time? Separate them while eating until the get over it? I just don't know what to do to end it quickly.

Food battles stress me out. I do not like fighting with kids to eat but I also hate throwing perfectly good food out when I know it's a power struggle. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in the world that children don't sit and eat meals at the table at mealtime like they used to. I also feel that continuously letting them skip meals will lead to skipping meals for a better option at the next eating time. That bugs me too.

Help!
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:39 AM
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Monkey see, monkey do, monkey get in trouble, too.

I would not excuse the first child from the table until the others are done eating. The other two see him being rewarded for not eating. If he acts up at the table, move his chair to the side and make him sit there while the others eat. Cheerfully interact with the two that are eating, but ignore the one who isn't.

When the others are done, dump his food and remind him that there won't be anything else to eat until the next snack/meal.

My motto is - some days we have what you like for breakfast/lunch, other days we have what I like. Deal with it.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:57 AM
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this is why i don't believe in letting children leave the table because they don't want to eat. What kind of example are you setting for the other children, and what are you expecting to happen with the original problem kid, that one day a light will go off and they will eat. Sorry for the anger but this was post a couple of weeks ago and to me this is the most ridiculous way of handling food issues, its not better than some of the parents we get.

now I wouldn't let him leave the table, to bad so sad that he doesn't want to eat. Evenually he will eat when he sees the other kids eating. Also, I know supernanny does the same thing, the kids learn to sit and eat, even if its a bite or two, its better than none.

also, as a warning, a mom on another forum had cas on her because her child said that he had no dinner, its not that it wasn't offered it was the fact that he didn't eat it, she let him go because he didn't want to eat and no she is battling cas. You never know who will call on you, and even if you say that they won't invistigate you, you never know what the parent will say.

oh, it does get better, I don't budge on food, it cost money and time to make heathly meal, so I don't let them get away with it.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:03 AM
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I've tried making him sit and he acts out badly. Either throwing a tantrum or fooling around and getting the rest of them going. That's why I switched to sending him away.

I'm open to making him sit again if I can make it work. They make him sit at home, sometimes for hours. He had one day here where he sat all day (at the parent's request - we were gettnig desperate) and didn't eat one bite and didn't eat at home so nothing all day. He ate like a horse the next day and was back on strike the next. Grrrr.

So what would you do about the acting out? Timeout and back to the table? That might work.

This is not about the food, it's about him being a stubborn little boy. He has eaten what he's been given for years here until 2 months ago.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:14 AM
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He will eat when he is hungry. I wouldn't make him sit all day but I would have him sit while everyone else is eating. Do you sit with them while they eat? If you don't you might want to to stop the goofing off. I talk would about table manners not even bring up the food issue. Don't make it about food but make it about manners. Good luck!
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:19 AM
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i would let the other kids have a "treat" after they eat all of their food, but make it a surprise. don't tell them or the non-eater that you're going to do it. it can be something as simple as ONE or two skittles or M&Ms. something that's cheap and lasts a long time. or a popcicle maybe? take them outside after lunch when it's hot out.

anyhow, after the kids who actually eat their food get finished, give them their treat. when the other kid comes running and wants a piece of the pie - tell him NO and stick to your guns. if he wasn't hungry for a sandwich or pasta or whatever it was you made for lunch then he shouldn't be hungry when the other kids are getting a treat either.

i'd be shocked if he didn't eat after that. i'd let him know WHY he wasn't getting what the other kids had, but that he might be able to get something next time if he eats his meal. it's pretty much the old "no dessert until you finish your supper" routine that people call bribery now.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:22 AM
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I do sit with them but I'm feeding a baby as well. When he's not eating and fooling around he'll stop when I ask him but then start again 10 seconds later. He's a goof and the other two can't handle it and literally melt into a pile of giggles and then the two two year olds catch on there's a joke and stop eating too.

What about putting him to eat at a seperate table so he's still sitting but not giving the option to fool around. I have a little table in chairs for art projects where he could sit within my sight if I walk two steps from the table but out of sight of the kids.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QualiTcare View Post
i would let the other kids have a "treat" after they eat all of their food, but make it a surprise. don't tell them or the non-eater that you're going to do it. it can be something as simple as ONE or two skittles or M&Ms. something that's cheap and lasts a long time. or a popcicle maybe? take them outside after lunch when it's hot out.

anyhow, after the kids who actually eat their food get finished, give them their treat. when the other kid comes running and wants a piece of the pie - tell him NO and stick to your guns. if he wasn't hungry for a sandwich or pasta or whatever it was you made for lunch then he shouldn't be hungry when the other kids are getting a treat either.

i'd be shocked if he didn't eat after that. i'd let him know WHY he wasn't getting what the other kids had, but that he might be able to get something next time if he eats his meal. it's pretty much the old "no dessert until you finish your supper" routine that people call bribery now.
He loves his treats so this is definitely an option. Especially in the summer when we have freezies ALOT. I don't mind bribing once in a while. I bribed a DCG to poop in the potty so she'd stop going in the pullup every naptime. Worked in 4 days and then I stopped the bribes. I used stickers that time because she adores them.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:32 AM
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just make sure whatever you do, do NOT give in and let him have a treat that first day when he didn't eat his meal. if you do that, he'll know that he doesn't REALLY have to eat.

another option to avoid having to leave him out would be to start the routine after serving a meal that you know he will eat. then, after all of the kids (including him) have eaten, give them the treat and make it clear that it's because they ate so well. i think either way would work.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:38 AM
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He's so random I have no idea what he's going to refuse next. Today it was veggie lasagna, brown bread and butter and milk. He LOVES lasagna and has this exact meal probably dozens of times here. He walked in the dining room, stood at the table, looked at his plate and actually had to say, "I don't like.....don't like....I hate......ummmmm.....I don't like.......pasta!!!" he had to decide what he was going to say. :|

One day last week he ate a piece of multigrain bread he had told me he wouldn't eat several times before and then refused to eat animal crackers and apple sauce which he loves, later that day.

He was trying to fill up on drinks to stave off the hungry I KNOW he's feeling but I'm limiting his liquids to water only until he eats and then only one serving so he definately has room for food.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meyou View Post
I do sit with them but I'm feeding a baby as well. When he's not eating and fooling around he'll stop when I ask him but then start again 10 seconds later. He's a goof and the other two can't handle it and literally melt into a pile of giggles and then the two two year olds catch on there's a joke and stop eating too.

What about putting him to eat at a seperate table so he's still sitting but not giving the option to fool around. I have a little table in chairs for art projects where he could sit within my sight if I walk two steps from the table but out of sight of the kids.
At my house, I serve the food, the children eat it or go hungry. If they choose not to eat then they remain at the table until the others are done. If they can't do that, get too loud, goof off, etc then they stand in the kitchen with their nose on a wall (our version of a time out) until lunch is done. If they can't manage that then it's bedtime for them.

By letting him leave the table to go read books, he's getting to do something 'fun' and you have to take the fun out of the consequence for not eating.

Also, at my house if you don't make a decent effort with your meal (and I judge what a decent effort is based on the kid and the food) then your snack in the afternoon is an apple and some saltines. Nice and boring. The other kids will get something better for snack.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:45 AM
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I usually serve drinks after I serve lunch so they are maybe halfway through their food first. I personally also tell them if they don't eat their meal, then it is saved and eaten at snack time to prevent them saving room for whatever snack is coming. My nine year old step son does this and it is getting old as he is WAY too old to do it but I just stick by it.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:21 AM
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I usually serve drinks after I serve lunch so they are maybe halfway through their food first. I personally also tell them if they don't eat their meal, then it is saved and eaten at snack time to prevent them saving room for whatever snack is coming. My nine year old step son does this and it is getting old as he is WAY too old to do it but I just stick by it.
I started doing this with the kids too. You got a drink halfway thru your meal, I found that by limiting their drinking consumption many had room for food.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:35 AM
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Believe me, I feel for you

First I would have a LONG talk with him. At 4.5 years old, you can have a decent conversation. Explain to him that under NO circumstances will he be allowed to misbehave at the table. If he eats, great. If he doesn't eat, that's fine too. However, by continuing to disrupt the other children will no longer be tolerated. It is HIS choice whether he eats or not. But he will NOT be loud and declaring it for the whole world to hear. If he chooses not to eat, then he must sit quietly at the table until you say he is excused.

With all due respect for my fellow colleagues, I do not believe in giving a "treat" just because he eats. I also dont believe in sending a child to nap regardless of the behavior. In fact, in my state (TX) it is against standards to use food associated with rewards, toilet training, and naps.

It's sad to say but he is the only one making himself suffer.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:46 AM
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We have them sit for a bit. If they act up they get moved to a small kids table right next to the big tables and they sit by themselves still with the group or depending on the time have him go potty and wash up for nap and go lay down. That is what we do. We do nap right after lunch.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:39 PM
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Yeah I agree with Former Teacher, I wouldn't be using a treat in this case. What I have done with my 4 year old misbehavers is, as Former Teacher said, a stern talking to. Sit nicely at the table, and eat if you want, don't eat if you don't want. If you misbehave, your plate is removed and you are sent to the hall until we go downstairs for quiet time.

I had 2 at one point that fed off of each other's bad behaviour. So the first one to misbehave was sent to the hall. No warnings past the first stern talking to. They got the picture very quickly.

I also agree with other pp's stating that allowing him to go read books appears to be a reward.
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:23 PM
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Ok, I'm mean. I don't give treats; they lose a priviledge.

We either go outside or have tv time right after lunch and before quiet time. If you aren't finished by the end of lunch time, you don't go outside or have tv time. You lay down on your nap map and start quiet time.

I don't argue, I don't beg, I don't barter. I just stick to the rule and they make their choice. If it is something new, they just have to try a small amount. I also do family style; they take as much or as little as they want, but they have to eat what they take. There again, their choice.

I gotta tell ya, my kids eat me out of house and home!

Breakfast and snacks are their choice. If they don't want to eat it when served, they don't have to, but lunch is mandatory.
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:44 PM
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Here are my suggestions:

1. He's getting attention from you and his parents, so I would NEVER discuss this issue in his presence again.

2. Do NOT let him get up. Let him sit and throw a fit and completely ignore him and praise the children who are eating and acting nicely.

3. Keep a log of when he's eating, not eating, his behavior during meal time, etc. so if someone turns you in, you have proof that you've done all you can do. You might also get a signed note from his parents, stating he does the same thing at home.

You're doing a good job. Just try to remember that, "This too shall pass."
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Former Teacher View Post
Believe me, I feel for you

First I would have a LONG talk with him. At 4.5 years old, you can have a decent conversation. Explain to him that under NO circumstances will he be allowed to misbehave at the table. If he eats, great. If he doesn't eat, that's fine too. However, by continuing to disrupt the other children will no longer be tolerated. It is HIS choice whether he eats or not. But he will NOT be loud and declaring it for the whole world to hear. If he chooses not to eat, then he must sit quietly at the table until you say he is excused.

With all due respect for my fellow colleagues, I do not believe in giving a "treat" just because he eats. I also dont believe in sending a child to nap regardless of the behavior. In fact, in my state (TX) it is against standards to use food associated with rewards, toilet training, and naps.

It's sad to say but he is the only one making himself suffer.
you're right, you're not supposed to use food as a reward. i might be wrong, but i think it's different when we're talking about getting or not getting "dessert" after a meal. that's been more like a tradition for as far back as i know of. if i take my kids out to eat, i don't "reward" them for eating all of their food by treating them to ice cream, but i'm certainly not going to buy them ice cream if they didn't eat their food. i see no difference except we're talking about a skittle or a M&M instead of something substantial.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:52 PM
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Default plan a picnic

Have a make your own something for lunch day - pizza, sandwiches.....english muffin faces with whatever on them....tuna and tomato smiles with pickle eyes?

Make edible playdough (pb and dry milk) or something to allow him ownership and control without allowing a power struggle over the actual eating.

Give him a back up choice - eat what we are having - or- what he agrees he likes.

Letting him have a small amount of control in a zone you are comfortable with might work to diffuse this volcano.

As a last resort, there's always raw veggies and ranch.

Also - give him a chance to be cooled down if you are coming in from the heat. You could also make 'popsicles' with blended fruit and yogurt in the AM together, then get them after Eating (at least a bite of everything) (Or save to take home if you are not hungry)
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Old 06-28-2011, 04:25 AM
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Just an update:

Friday was a better day. DCB was sent to timeout for fooling around at the table and then came back to the table after everyone was done (twice) and ate at that point. In the afternoon he managed to sit still (not eating) so avoided timeout but still took over an hour to eat a tortilla with pb and a glass of milk. BUT no whining and no crying and he did eat so all good.

He wasn't here yesterday so we're starting fresh today. This week also starts off our daily beach trips so I hope the incentive of the beach will also help our food struggles. We're going to go over the summer rules this morning and one of them is that if you don't eat at mealtimes you will be sitting next to me at the beach or in the yard until you CHOSE to eat. Another will be that there are no afternoon junky treats for anyone that choses not to eat morning snack and lunch at the table at the correct time. We do lots of freezies and ice cream cones after nap in the summer. With sand, water and fun involved I hope he'll snap out of this phase quickly and I'll be done with it for the summer.

I'm going to avoid rewards for now and just make this a rule like any other. I've been thinking about it and I think I was making too big a deal out of his not eating and creating a bigger problem for myself. If a 4 year old refused to put his shoes on to play outside I wouldn't think twice about him sitting on the step until he put them on even if he missed an entire afternoon of play so I feel like I need to treat this eating strike the same way. In a calm manner where it appears I don't really care what you do as long as you follow my rules. If you don't follow the rules you sit...I do this for everything else so I'll try it with food now.

Thanks for the input and help ladies! I'll keep this updated.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:13 AM
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I had an almost 3 y/o that went on a food strike. Would eat breakfast, but refused anything I fixed for lunch. Even her favorites. With Mom's blessing, I only gave afternoon snack when she ate lunch. Our thinking was she would be hungry and eat dinner. However, Dad did pick up and had the kids until Mom got home at dinne time. Found out as soon as the big sister was picked up, he gave them both a snack. So anything Mom and I were doing was useless. She just never at after breakfast at my house. She left several months ago for preschool.
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