In the morning, my son wakes up, has a cuddle and asks for his breakfast.
He wants the following:
- Chocolate cake
- Chocolate yogurt
I serve the following:
- Oats with banana, chia seed, cinnamon and rice milk
- Gluten free weetbix with rice milk
A similar pattern repeats for lunch then it intensifies at dinner time.
Before I get accused of having all the time in the world to cook (as has happened in the past), I work 2-3 days a week, I am a student, we are building a house, we are getting married in 6 weeks time, my son goes to kindy half an hour away, my daughter to playgroups, we visit Grandparents at least once a week, I do bootcamp 3x a week and take the kids on walks too and I manage all of the household chores. Like everyone else, I don’t have time for their shit when they refuse food.
So how do I get him to eat his meals?
- Wake up early. I have realized that I need to get up before the kids so I can make their breakfast and have it on the table, ready and waiting. That eliminates the kids trying to ask for other foods while I make their breakfast. For lunch and dinner, I get my kids involved in the cooking where possible.
- Be direct. Guide them to the table saying directly, “This is your breakfast”. It is not a discussion, I am not asking my kids what they want. I am telling them, this is your breakfast.
- Non negotiable. Don’t argue with a three year old. It is not a discussion, a choice, a compromise. I try not to have this arguement with my preschooler because it leaves him thinking he has wiggle room. I tell him, “your breakfast is on the table”.
- Eat together. I absolutely love drinking coffee and eating brekkie alone, in peace, in silence before the chaos of the day begins but I find that the simple act of eating together as a family sets the atmosphere and culture in the house of meal time. Ever noticed how kids eat food off your plate but wont touch their plate even though you have made the same damn meal? It encourages kids to eat when you are eating at the same time. Monkey see, monkey do.
- If they don’t eat, serve it to them again when they say they are hungry. This is what we do but I know not everyone agrees. A great example of how effective this is with my 3yo is at dinner time, I serve it around 4 or 5 (as I dont eat late) and if he doesn’t eat it then, he will usually cave by 6pm and eat some dinner. After he has his dinner he is allowed a smoothie for dessert, but never a smoothie just for the sake of it. It is a little hard because if he goes to bed hungry then we know we might be in for a 2am wake up. I have been up with my son at 2am while he eats his steak. But now that he is 3, he gets it, and will even use eating his dinner as a stalling tactic at bedtime. I don’t mind this as I know he is eating nutritious food which will fuel his body. Personally, we start again in the morning with brekkie, we don’t go as far as to serve his dinner to him again the next day.
- Consistency. On repeat. They soon get it!
We have had so many setbacks of when my kids are with relatives and their routine/eating habits are set out of whack again. My kids were at my Mums house on Thursday while I worked and she spoils the crap out of them, it is extreme. My son is a king there, he demands a muffins, blueberries and cookies so she goes to the shops and buys it all for him !!!!! What the fuck Mum? Then back out to the shops when he asks for an ice block. She is his slave. You can imagine the next couple of days following a day at their grandparents house is quite hard on me. I have to put in a real effort to get them to eat what they are given. It is also like this coming back from holiday when my 3yo knows who to ask for alternate food to what we have cooked, there is always a relative or two who will stop eating their own meal to comply to his request for toast instead of meat and veg. When we come back from holiday it takes a few days and a lot of “in our house we eat what we are given for dinner”, “I want you to eat your oats”.
Healthy meals are so important for our kids. I was bought up with “you’ll get what you are given and you’ll like it”, “no you can’t have that, you can have a smacked bum instead” or “eat everything on your plate. There are starving kids in India”.
Interested to hear what happens at your place?