Friday, February 17, 2012

Dinner Debacle

Dinner time - that one moment where a perfectly good day becomes a disaster, where all that is good in the world dissolves into a chorus of children protesting, imploring said children to eat and figuring out why the baby's dinner is mostly in his hair.

So okay, most dinners are not nearly so dramatic. But, there's always that chance. You find yourself sitting there wondering if you'll actually eat your food or if you'll just spend the time putting out fires and getting up to get whatever it was you forgot. If you're like me you always forget something. Perhaps it's the vegetables that are still in the microwave or only one child got a drink or why am I the only one with no fork.

Recently, I decided I'd had enough. The Boy is feeding himself now with his cute little silverware, which is nice because I can eat instead of feeding him. It's not so nice because dinner ends up everywhere. The Girl discovered the magic of the dinnertime power struggle. Every little bite was a battle. Meals that a child should devour take half a lifetime to be nibbled at.

Thankfully, this is where my mom comes in. There are many times that I am eternally grateful to have a mother who ran a preschool. She's seen it all before. She suggested that I was looking at dinner the wrong way. Apparently, I am only responsible for providing the meal. I am not responsible for getting The Girl to eat it. If she chooses not to eat her dinner, her punishment is that she has no dinner. She can eat again at the next scheduled meal or snack time. It was my own personal 'gotcha' moment.

Now we simply put her dinner down and tell her that she has until the end of dinnertime to eat it. When dinnertime is over, whatever she hasn't eaten gets tossed in the trash. Sure, it's wasteful, but it works. That first time we tossed her dinner in the trash she was beside herself. The next night we still threw food away, but not nearly as much. Now she still doesn't eat all of her dinner but she eats more than she used to. The really great part is that the arguing and pestering is gone. Being my daughter, she still struggles with an inability to stop talking long enough to eat, but that's a battle for another day.

So if you're struggling with a preschooler and dinnertime, give this a try. Maybe it will work for you too.

Now, if I could convince The Boy to stop putting dinner in his hair we'd be golden. Then again you can't have it all, right.

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