Thursday, June 19, 2008

I dream a dream

I am ecstatic. My kids ate their dinner tonight. I literally wanted to hop on the table and do the chicken dance I was so happy! Instead, I took a picture. We have a "no toys at the table" rule. But Owen looked so darn cute & ridiculous, I couldn't bring myself to take them away.I have wonderful, obedient, sensitive, children. However, when it comes to eating- they're not so great. They are extremely picky and I totally take responsibility. I used to cater to their young, immature taste buds. Then #3 came along and life changed. I am the meanest mom in the world at dinner time. I turn into Dr. Jekyl if they give me a hard time. I've even resorted to the "starving kids in Africa" talk, and my kids are under 5! Any advice? They ate their dinner tonight without too much hullaballoo. So maybe my threats are actually working!We are really strict about table manners, or at least I think so. Dinner time is meant to be a relaxing, bonding time. But in our house it's quite stressful.1. No toys allowed at, on, or near the table during mealtime.
2. The boys often fight over the coveted chair with arm rests, which also sits at the head of the table. First one there wins.
3. If it's not chicken nuggets or quesadilla, then pure chaos ensues with tears, screaming, and running in place. (I've actually boycotted chicken nuggets in the house because they get enough fake, processed food as it is. It takes just as much time to whip up eggs & toast which is REAL food.)They must then go to their bed and return only with their best behavior and a smile. Sometimes, I'll make my kids smile when they're in the depths of despair. It is hilarious! I highly recommend it for your own amusement. You deserve it.
4. No milk, juice, or snacks if they don't eat dinner. We don't FORCE them to eat. And it's not like I make exotic, spicy dishes. (We're talking about lasagna here! And only 5 bites!) Anyway, there's no munching on goldfish or cheez-its if they don't eat. At bedtime if they're absolutely starving, we'll let them have a piece of whole wheat bread and water . . . if we're feeling nice. Is that too mean?
5. The Food Pyramid. I've explained to my kids how they need food from each food group every day. This really helps! Jack now loves broccoli and carrot sticks. The transformation seemed to occur shortly after teaching him the Food Pyramid.
6. The kids must stay in their chair while eating. You might think this one is a given- but with two boys, it's NOT. Sitting in your chair, with your legs in front (and not hanging off to the side) is a HUGE challenge in and of itself. They've actually mastered this one. I'm quite proud of them. They get so easily distracted. So they really have come a long way with this one.

Jack has really improved with his table manners over the years. He is always asking me if something is healthy or not.

Owen is only 3 and still quite picky. We continue to persevere!

Lucy is an awsome eater- our best yet. She takes after me, what can I say?

I dream that someday my children will have exquisite table manners, an educated pallete, and an appreciation for all different types of flavors.


jessica said...

I totally let my kids have it at lunch today because they wouldn't sit with their legs in front and they wouldn't stop bugging each other! Eden kept "pretending" to pour her juice on Maya, and sure enough she "accidentally" did.

Seriously! Why does mealtime bring out the worst in us!

My kids have graduated from the "starving kids in Africa" to the "starving kids in China and Myranmar" because they actually saw some news footage with hungry little kids in it.

The Hansen Clan said...

You go girl! I don't think you are mean at all... it's because you love them that you are fighting the battle. We had to really fight Katelyn for a long time, but now she will eat. We actually went the route of "If we can't get you to eat healthy food, the police will give you to a mommy and daddy that will because everyone wants little kids to be healthy." It worked! Two years and that's what worked. Granted she will probably need therapy, but at least she's eating well now. Brooke on the other hand loves food - that would be my gene.

Shad & Amy said...

Way to go Meg! I knew that one of these years, they would FINALLY get hungry & actually eat something. Yea, Mommy, for sticking it out.

AMY said...

My Jack - the greatest eater, too. Aidan - Not so good. He would rather go to dinner hungary any day than eat dinner most nights. So, I figured that wasn't healthy for a growing, stubborn child, so Mike and I make him sit at the table ALONE until he's eaten enough. Is he improving? sometimes. But I agree, it is soooo frustrating.

nicole said...

Wow...sounds like you're on the right track. And with the food you make (I KNOW it's good) just give them a couple years and they'll be all over it! Way to keep at it.

Ilene said...

My SIL, Cynthia, called my brother and told him to eat before coming home one night. When he came home, Cynthia had a dinner of bread and water ready. Then they sat down and made rules for dinner something like taking a bite of each food and no complaining about the food, etc. If they didn't comply, bread and water would be dinner every night. Now her kids are awesome eaters. Of course I haven't tried this on my own children. Jackson is getting pretty picky in his old age.

Sharlene Enloe said...

I could totally hear your voice in my head as I read this post. I'm right there with you. Unfortunately I haven't been as consistent. I have lots of good intentions for my terrible eater Olivia. Jackson will eat good food, he just makes the mess of a 1 year old. It is ridiculous. He is 9 1/2. I don't know how to make him be clean.

Elizabeth Caldwell said...

I am so happy to hear that you are insisting on table manners!! Horray for you! I think you are doing everything right. Place good food in front of them 3 times a day, if they choose not to eat it that is their problem. As long as they arent snacking they WILL get hungry eventually. They will NOT die of starvation... LOL

Keep up the good work!

A couple of thoughts and suggestions for you to use or ignore as you wish...

1. Sit down once a week and make a menu for the week ahead. Let each child plan one dinner. Their plan has to include a protein, starch, veg, fruit and dairy... They may suprise you with their creativity - and they will certinally want to eat the food they planned! Out of respect for others they must politley eat meals planned by anyone else too!

2. Dont be afraid of chicken nuggets - just cut up chicken breasts and use the shake and bake - ok, it isnt perfect, but it is a good compromise!

3. Encourage a three tries rule. I read somewhere that you have to try a new food 3 times before you gain a taste for it. I make John take 1 bite of a new food on 3 occasions... about 85% of the time he develops a taste for the food.. and the other 15% he can honsestly say he doesnt like it.

4. Get them involved - let them pick out a new veg or fruit at the store... go home and look up ways to prepare it and let them choose one.. then help prepare it for a meal!

Good luck!