Help me make dinner enjoyable
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|Tue, 06-13-2006 - 11:28pm|
I am a lurker, but have posted at various messageboards over the years. I am in need of advice, and hope you have some for me. I have a soon to be 7 yo dd and a 4.5 yo ds. They are great kids in so many ways, and I love them dearly, but I am at my wits end about their behaviour at the dinner table. So here goes my long winded description....
My philosophy about kids and food is 1) never make them finish their plates, let them stop when they are full 2) make sure there is at least one thing on the menu that they like 3) anything new or different must be tried (a real bite) before declining it. If they say they like it, they are expected to eat it (see 1). 4) Any special requests (2nd helping, item placed in special dish/cup, sauce on/off are tolerated. However, if it involves work for me, they are expected to finish that item. 5) Ask for their input on the menu. Lately I have been showing them pictures of food in cookbooks and asking them to choose what they want me to make.
I don't want to make food a battle, but that's where we are.
For months now my dd has been quite picky about food. She avoids many protein foods, and it seems she has never caught on to how to chew and swallow meat. I often serve fish and vegetarian meals, but I also serve real chicken (not just the processed kind that requires no chewing - like she wants) and real pork and real beef. I feel like I am constantly hounding her to "eat some protein, your muscles need it". Surely a 7 yo needs more that 1/2 an oz of meat at a meal? She is also the queen of "what is that? It looks gross" and "I don't like that" etc. etc.
However, the main issue I have is that the kids yap, sing, and play instead of eating. I can't stand sitting at the table for 45 minutes when all that's in front of them is a burrito and a glass of milk. And they love burritos!!!
Tonight I completely lost it. After asking them at least 5 times to "finish you dinners" I forced them to drink their cold (because we had been sitting there for 45 minutes) soup (which they both said "yum" to) and actually said "I don't expect you to finish your dinner but you WILL drink your GD soup". Yep, I swore at them. I'm sure the neighbours heard it all. I feel like the worst mother in the world.
I also told them from now on, things were going to be different. I'm not offering any more choices. They get what I put in front of them, with no input on the menu from them. I told them they would have a maximum of 15 minutes to eat and that once the time was up, their plates are going to the dog or chickens. And, (and this one is so not me) they are no longer allowed to sit at the table together.
All I really want is dinners like I had growing up. My family would laugh and talk and eat whatever mom cooked. It was always fun. How do I get there from here??!!
Do I totally back off, put a plate in front of them and walk away when I'm done? Am I unrealistic to expect my kids to accept their meals without whining about why they don't want it? Shouldn't they show a little (just a little) appreciation for the meals?
DH, on the other hand, never fails to say thanks when he sits down to eat. He never complains in front of the kids about what I serve, and if he really dislikes it he will tell me later. He is not picky at all and shows enthusiasm for new dishes. In other words, he is a good role model (at least in this department). We are a united front on what we expect from the kids as well.
Please tell me what to do. I am at my wits end. Both kids went to bed crying tonight and I may just do the same.