I have discovered that there are six magic words that you can say to your picky eater to help with dinner stress. Seriously.
Gus is a VERY picky eater and usually when it's time for dinner, he picks from a limited selection of: hotdogs, eggs, waffles/pancakes, mac-n-cheese, or a quesadilla. If we're having pizza for dinner, he'll usually eat the bread, but doesn't actually like the pizza. I've recently discovered that he WILL eat pizza if there's no optional bread to dissuade him.
So what are these six magic words? Repeat after me:
Really. It's that simple.
So how does this phrase work? I thought you'd never ask. :-)
I cook whatever I know Steve and I want for dinner. I make one dinner and I put a portion on a plate for Gus. We sit down to eat dinner, and he's got on his plate the same thing that Steve and I have on ours. He typically says, "I don't want that." or "I'm not eating that, it's yucky!" And trust me, he puts his little foot down and throws a tantrum about dinner.
In the past, I'd just make him something that I knew he'd eat, and I'd say I was choosing my battle. That was fine and dandy, but then I realized I don't want a picky eater at five to be a still picky eater at 10 and even pickier eater at 15. The only way to stop the continuation was to just put an end to the options.
When dinner is placed on the table, the fridge lock (for babyproofing) goes on the fridge door. Gus cannot open it. The pantry already has a lock, so he can't get into that either. He's told, "You don't have to eat it..." and he usually continues with his ranting about not eating his dinner.
We don't fight or argue, or raise our voices. We simply repeat, "you don't have to eat it." Then we add the part that makes this so perfect. We say, "You don't have to eat it, but that's what's for dinner, and that's all that you're getting tonight."
He's then told that there will be nothing else to eat and he'll go to bed hungry. He's given until 6:30 (his bedtime) to choose what to do. He usually keeps on with "I'm not eating that" and that's totally cool. We enjoy our dinners and keep saying, "You don't have to eat it."
When we finish eating, we start giving him a count-down to how much time he has left to eat. He's told that once he's finished with his dinner, he can have more, or can have dessert. It's usually not enough of an enticement to make him eat. So he digs in, and keeps fighting and we just keep repeating the six magic words.
Right around 6:30 something fantastic happens though. EVERY time we've had an issue with him eating his dinner, we get to this part of the night and the magic happens.
Not kidding. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
I used to think he'd go to bed hungry and would have a battle of wills with me, and then I'd feel guilty and upset that he was hungry. I mean, what kind of mother lets her child starve? But it's all about power and I know he's testing limits and trying to see what he can get away with.
Every time we've had an issue, he's gotten to the 6:30 window and the thought of going to bed without anything to eat has been enough that he's actually consumed everything on his plate. Yes, EVERYTHING.
This is what Gus has had for dinner that he's thrown a tantrum over:
Hashbrown casserole (ham, potatoes, cheese)
Tacos (Beef, cheese, hard shell)
Grilled chicken, steamed potatoes, and green beans
While it may not seem like a big deal that he's eating these things, it's HUGE. Tonight was the battle over tacos. He did NOT want the ground beef on his taco. He only wanted the cheese and shell. No can do. I filled a shell with beef and put cheese on it and it sat at the table ready for him to eat it for 45 minutes. He finally took a bite and said, "I like it!" LOL
I'm not sure if this is something that will work for everyone, and if you've got a picky eater, you're probably saying, "No way would this work with my kiddo." However, I dare you to give it a try. You've got to be 100% committed to following through with your word. No negotiating "If you take a bite... blah blah blah." You need to set the rules from the start and that's what you do.
If it works, you'll be as elated as I am and wonder where would you be without the six magic words.
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