I have reached the end of my wits with the Boy. Dinner has been a battleground for over a year and I am so very tired of it. Just tired. Breakfast is not a battle. Lunch is not a battle. Dinner is always a battle, every single night. Food he loves, food he’s okay with, food he’s never had – doesn’t matter. Time of night doesn’t matter – 5pm? 6:30pm? 7pm? Doesn’t make a difference. It will take him upwards of 2 hours to eat dinner and that’s WITH us telling him every few minutes to take a bite. Bribes worked for a little over a month – telling him that if he ate all his dinner, he could have a gold dubloon (chocolate coins in the gold wrappers). Even that isn’t working any more. I have reached the end. I feel like I’m running out of options, except the ones I don’t like and I might have to go with those. I am TRYING to get that child to gain weight and it is NOT working. But if nothing else is working, I feel like I have two options left:
Give him a reasonable amount of time – maybe 45 minutes? – to eat his dinner. After that, I am taking it away. If he tells me he is hungry later, he can have his food back. I haven’t decided if I will bother to warm it up for him or not. Temperature doesn’t seem to matter to him either, although he periodically tells me something is too hot when it is barely lukewarm. I think that’s just a toddler thing though, another way to procrastinate. My parents took this route with me at some point, but I think I was older than he is now. They did it on the advice of my pediatrician. I don’t know what I think of this.
My other option that I see is simply to be all “alright, you’re done, you can go play but you get no food the rest of the evening”. The problem with that one is that sometimes we eat fairly early, like 5:00pm, and he doesn’t go to bed until 8:30pm and most mornings he doesn’t wake up until 7:00am or later. That’s nearly 15 hours without food, and that’s not really okay either. Sending him to bed essentially without dinner because he won’t eat turns my stomach.
In both cases I feel like I’m falling into the “he’ll eat when he’s hungry” camp and I don’t like it there. I refer to that as “starving my kid”. Why? Because he tells me a lot “I’m really hungry AGAIN” and then I give him food and he doesn’t eat it. That’s what he told us last night while Aaron was making dinner…and then he didn’t eat it. I don’t want food to be a battleground because I don’t want to instill a hatred of food (because it means fights and nagging and crying). By the same token, the child NEEDS TO EAT. If he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t gain weight. If he doesn’t gain weight, his clothes don’t fit. He’s currently in 3T because his 2T fell apart and they are a little tight…but the 3T are too big in waist AND they are too long, but there’s no point in getting him more 2T clothes that he’s going to grow out of soon (theoretically). I know that both of my nephews were 48# when they were 2 and they stayed at that weight until they were 5, but they were growing taller so it made sense. I don’t think the Boy is even growing taller at this point.
Do any of you have other options that I am not seeing? I know, all children have their battlegrounds. This is ours, but it’s one I’m no longer willing to fight. Food has actually been a big thing for us most of his life. I’m tired. Aaron is tired. We’re frustrated because we can’t solve this. I don’t want to be the parent who sends their child to bed without dinner – that seems harsh, and like it should be reserved for something bigger. I”m not making him a special meal – this child would live on mac and cheese if he could, and I know that I lived on balogna and cheese sandwiches for many months when I was his age, but it doesn’t seem HEALTHY to do that – just because he won’t eat. If he didn’t like it that would be one thing, but he does this even with foods he loves. I’m not convinced that he wouldn’t do this with the mac and cheese! Help!!!!