Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Free To Eat Stew And Peas

...Well, vegetarian or fish stew, anyway. Cuz we don't eat red meat, you see. Whatever. That's besides the point.

Remember I said I was working on a new idea of how to get my dear little picky Sweetie to eat more? And how I didn't want to write about it yet cuz I didn't want to jinx anything?

Well, it's only been a week now, but things are looking good in this department. So let me tell you what I've done.... and what got me here in the first place.

See, the bane of my parenting existence has always been getting Sweetie to eat. To eat at dinner time, mostly. Breakfasts are no problem - she gets a breakfast bar or requests waffles, oatmeal, or the like. And lunches are generally fine - a PB&J sandwich or mac & cheese will work well for her.

But OMG! Dinner! The fighting! The whining! The bribery! Please just make it stop!

Much more often than not Hubby and I have to cajole and bribe and fight with Sweetie for a good long while - maybe 20-30 minutes - before she'll grumpily eat the very bare minimum required of her. It's a fight to the finish and I suppose we usually win - but not without some major back & forth and less-than-satisfactory compromises.

Last week, well... let's just say I HAD HAD IT! I'm not going to go into the whole story, but a particularly bad non-food eating experience had me explaining to Sweetie that I was NOT going to fight with her about food anymore.

Thinking about this further, I decided I'd take it one step further. I told her we had a new family rule:


Either she ate what she was given or she went to bed. That was it. No other choices.

Hubby and I agreed with each other that this was so - she ate or was sent, calmly, to her room (or whatever Time Out room we designated at whomever's house we were at). No bribing her with treats, no big fuss or angry tone. She just needs to eat... or leave.

So... Sweetie heard this new Family Rule. Understood the conditions. And agreed to it.

At first, I seriously drilled it into her brain - I asked her in the morning what the new rule was. I asked her at night right before bed. I asked her at every meal. I really wanted her to become One with it. And she quickly did.

Now it's been a full week since we started this. And let me tell ya... we are living our own little personal American Dream!

Not one fight. Not one whine. She eats her meals and sometimes asks for more!

We've even tested the theory by giving her less than kid-friendly dinners - like shrimp, noodles and veggie stir fry. For that she did calmly request that she not be given any broccoli, which we granted. But lo and behold, she asked for - and ate - more pea pods than she was originally given.

For that meal she also didn't finish her whole bowl of food. But she ate more than she usually does, so we were impressed nonetheless. And when she was done, she simply said,

I'm done now.

Using my last ditch effort, I asked her if she'd take just one more bite.

No thank you. I'm done.

Well okay then. Manners and eating. Can I get an Amen?!

I admit, last night was just the tiniest bit dicey, only because I asked her if she wanted me to make her 4 or 5 chicken nuggets. She wanted only 4 - but I ended up cooking 5. Because doing so would leave a goodly amount for one more Sweetie-sized serving. I didn't intend for her to eat that last one - Hubby could.

So she saw that I did the 5 and she did start to freak a little. But I reminded her of The Rule and assured her Daddy would eat the 5th one. She quickly calmed down, ate her 4 beloved chicken nuggets, and happily went about her evening.

Even at Grammy's and Grampy's this past weekend for lunch - she ate her entire PB&J sandwhich with no problem (albeit inside at the kitchen counter - her request - while everyone else was outside on the deck. No biggie. At least she ate).

And pizza at Papa and Nana's? Usually a long, angry, tiring trip to Bribe City? No problem - she came right to the table and ate her entire slice (even the crust!) with not one reminder from me.

Truth be told, I really feel like Sweetie is relieved to have this rule in her life. It's as if we've freed her from her dreaded role of Food Whiner. Like she never was terribly interested in fighting so much, it's just what she was supposed to do.

But now? I'm telling you - Hubby and I are so happy to not have to fight with her at every meal that when we express to her how proud we are of her, well... she absolutely beams!

Now I don't have to remind her so much of the rules. I just end each day by asking her,

And who's following the new Family Rule so totally awesomely great?!

Her giddily proud answer...


You betcha, Sweetie. You're doing so great. Keep up the good work.

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