Mealtime in our home required a great deal of patience. Patience was needed with the child who was extremely hesitant to try new things and patience for the fact that between the two households that Allie is raised in, this is an area where co-parenting ideals are different.
I was raised with these words, “I may be a waitress but this is no restaurant and you will eat what you are served!” It worked for us. All of my sisters and I have very few dislikes when it comes to food and I think that comes from not having the choice to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chicken nuggets every day for dinner.
This approach didn’t go over well with Allie at first. There were some tears when we told her that tonight was Taco Night. Mind you, Tacos are now her favorite. With Allie, it was merely a fear of the unknown. We do not believe in bribing our children to get expected behavior out of them but we firmly believe in rewards. After everyone (yes, this includes us) does a good job eating our dinners we enjoy a treat.
This proved to be extremely helpful with Allie. Allie had a choice of whether or not to be a good eater. When she ate her food she was rewarded with a brownie. If she chose that she was not interested in any after dinner treats she could stop however, that didn’t mean we were not going to enjoy our treats. Overall, Allie was now eating her food but a new problem occurred…it was taking her an hour to do it!
We had to reevaluate the helping we were giving her to make sure we were not setting her up to fail by giving he too much to eat. We did notice a difference in my serving size compared to Daddy’s and a change needed to be made. When it was clear that Allie was just dragging out the process we had to incorporate a time frame that was acceptable for Allie to spend at the table. When she exceeded that time, daddy would take the plate away and inform Allie that she would be having what she didn’t finish as her breakfast. That only needed to happen twice.
After some time, Allie grew to love some of the dishes she feared. Today, I pick at least one night a week where I teach Allie how to prepare our dinner. SHE LOVES IT! More importantly, Allie LOVES to eat her own cooking.
Stay strong with the fussy eaters, parents and get them involved in the kitchen!