Sticker charts, warnings and despair

Why don’t my children eat? Mealtimes are becoming a total battlground in our house and we now have a six year old and a one year old who refuse to take pleasure in sitting down to a family meal.

For the little one, there are days when he’ll start to scream as soon as the bowl comes out of the cupboard. His little face screws up and turns scarlet and he starts to writhe and wriggle, wanting to break free from the restraints of his highchair. There are certain, fail-safe foods that he’ll tolerate on days like these, but they change all the time. They used to be porridge or weetabix. Just lately, it’s bananas or nothing, the little monkey.

The big one seems to be regressing- once an adeqate eater, we are now resorting to sticker charts and bribery (no pudding, no television, no party bag at your brother’s party…) just to get her to eat a meal. She’s looking thin to me but then what do I know?

Isn’t it my job, as mother,( carer, social worker, teacher, friend, enemy) to feed, to nourish and to fret over my children? Isn’t it my duty to make three different meals per person per meal, in the hope that I might stumble upon something they deem palatable? Isn’t it my duty to spend valuable time each day planning the evening’s meal and more time later cooking it?

Well, no, actually. I start to lose patience for a few reasons these days. Being back at work, teaching children with little or no manners and behaviour issues, I’m a little tired of reward charts and positive praise by the time it comes to dinner time. Excuse me if I don’t feel like cajoling and persuading- I only have an hour before the bath needs running and tired children need their beds. So, I suppose I give in. Because making three different meals with a small child clinging to my leg, pulling my tights down and whinging (not to mention the six year old already moannig about her meal and bargaining with me to let her have macaroni cheese for the third night in a row) IS NOT EASY!!

So, tonight the little one had a breadstick, a banana and a bowl of weetabix. The big one had some cheese sauce, a bite of ham and a banana. WE had a lovely joint of ham cooked in the slow cooker with cheese sauce, veg and mashed potato. YUM.

I’ll start the sticker charts tomorrow. After all, as a teacher I know that they work. I guess I just wanted an easy night tonight- I am human, after all.

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One response to “Sticker charts, warnings and despair

  • sheridan

    I am impressed; I am still not back to teaching (mine 2 are 2 and 3) and I can’t see myself doing it for a while. It’s a full-on job (I taught secondary history) and you certainly don’t want to be fussing with rewards when you get home. Have you tried ignoring it? Both mine go through periods of not eating, and I just tend to ignore it now, and just not offer anything else. When they get hungry enough, they tend to eat. I allow as much fruit as they like, and stuff like cucumber and carrot sticks whenever, that way I know they’ve eaten something. I just go overboard on the praise when they DO eat well. I have noticed that both of mine hate breakfast before 11am, and actually, I am the same. So now I just give them it late on weekends or have a snack ready. I think it peaks and troughs, and one certainly copies the other. “I used to like that yesterday but now I HATE it” is what gets me.
    I have introduced “friday is kids day” where they choose the meal, and me and DH have a spicy dinner later on. It’s invariably something fishy with jelly for afters. It’s a start!

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