fussy eater frustration

my 6yr old junior has always been a fussy eater since she started eating - but over the last year or so has just been getting worse and worse.

i cook meals she loved last week - yet this week she refuses to eat it .... i cook food she declares she loves that day - yet she picks it completely to pieces and refuses to eat any morsel that is not exactly perfect (in her eyes).

we have a reinforced rule in this house that if you don't eat a reasonable amount of your dinner, you don't get anything else to eat that night ... so she often goes to bed hungry and asking for something to eat (i refuse to give her anything else to eat and explain "again" that it was because she didn't eat her dinner).

neither of hubby or i are fussy eaters and are often enthusiastic about what we are eating.

we also have a rule that she has to try everything on her plate and if she doesn't like it she doesn't have to eat it - but it has to be tried - and i make sure that there is enough of her (supposed) favorites to give her sufficient to eat.

even the promise of chocolate icecream, if she eats enough of her dinner, is not enough - and she loves chocolate icecream. so when told she won't get icecream because of not eating, the evening often ends in tears/screams and her being sent to her room.

is sooooo frustrating. the only vege she will eat is carrot and corn. is currently off all fruit. meat is a on/off food (very tender but well cooked steak and boiled sausages only!). likes her carbs of pasta and white bread. can eat/drink dairy until the cows come home.

now - she's not undernorished, is tall for her age, intelligent and i suppliment her with kiddies vitamin/mineral tablets ... but it is so frustrating having her like something one day and hate it the next - and picking her food to pieces to pull out the tiniest speck of green/red/brown.

any suggestions? i know, in the scheme of things it's not a big battle, but if she's every going to go to a friends or restaurant for dinner she needs to learn to just eat her dinner without the fussing. the fussing is also driving her dad to distraction.
 
My girlfriends daughter is extremely similar. Especially with the milk loving thing.

How is her behaviour otherwise?

How much milk does she have?
 
I have a nearly 14yr old daughter who was exactly the same. She is finally starting to come round and try new things.
She is frustrating in the sense that she will have a piece of steak, which has had all the fat trimmed off it, but will still leave bits which she thinks are fatty.
Same with other food, she will dissect and leave bits of food which she thinks are yucky.
One good thing, throughout the really fussy years, she would eat salads and raw vegetables. Won't eat mashed potatoes, but will eat potato bake, so we eat LOTS of potato bakes. I also make my girls "milkshakes" to have with their breakfast, throw in ice cream, yoghurt, bananas, mangoes, strawberries, whatever fruit is in the fridge, wheatgerm and raw eggs. Sustenance to keep them going all morning.
I was a fussy eater myself as a kid, and will eat pretty much anything now.
 
Spoonful of honey on the vegies.

nope - won't eat honey, peanut butter, golden syrup or jam but occasionally has vegemite on her toast.

i know she's not the fussiest eater in the world - my marine biologist uncle existed on nothing but honey sandwiches for the first 10 years of life - but the annoying part is the "won't eat dinner but wants something at bedtime" and the tears when she doesn't get it.

i assume she will grow out of it at some stage ... just was getting worn down by the performance tonight.
 
Haveyou tried offering the choice of raw veges? As a kid I hated cooked cabbage, so mum simply put the raw cabbage (which I loved) on my plate before she cooked for the rest of us.

Lizzie, how much attention is your daughter receiving over the eating issue?
Marg
 
I was one of those fussy eaters (still am). My parents were pretty strict, especially my father. I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I had eaten all my veggies, I remember sitting there for what felt like hours some nights. I even remember on a few desperate attempts, my father holding my nose so I had to open my mouth and he'd put the food in. :) Not that I have kids, but I think it's important kids eat a good amount of vegetables whether they like them or not. We seem to be a junk food society where kids have too much say and get away with too much in my opinion. I know it's a lot easier said than done, I spend one night a week with my 3 and 4 year old niece and nephew. Meal times are quite torturous, couldn't imagine fighting that battle nightly! :eek:
 
Lizzie, how much attention is your daughter receiving over the eating issue?

hi marg - very little attention, a few gentle reminders of what she is expected to eat and the rewards of such - then i sit at the table with her and stare off into space while she stares at her picked over food ... and generally ignored after the point when she is advised that after 30mins of grizzling that she hates everything on her plate that she isn't going to get any icecream and it denegrates to the tears.

just seems to be getting worse as the "liked" foods become less and less - and not point in trying to disguise anything as she doesn't like any sauces (except honey/mustard/cream) and rissoles get picked to bits looking for "green stuff".

it's be okay if she didn't usually state at bedtime (1 hour after dinner) that she was hungry.
 
I'd cut down on the time factor. 30 minutes of grizzling after others have finished eating is just too long.

Once the rest of the family has finished, I'd give her a 5 minute warning time then simply take the plate and scrape what's left into the scraps. No need for discussions, she knows there is no icecream.

Could she help you dish out? Maybe let her feel a little control over what goes on her plate (within reason, of course).

At bedtime when she says she is hungry I would simply agree that she probably is, as that is what usually happens if someone doesn't eat dinner.

Hang on in there - soon she will be a teenager and you won't know where she is or who she is with!!
Marg
 
Mine (almost 9yo) isn't fussy so much as patently annoying.

We've had the dissecting food for fat thing - only with 'whole' meat like steak, chops or meat braised in a stew - where you can *see* the fat. This started after the healthy eating subject at school and hasn't stopped. She'll ignore the fat in everything else, just 'whole' meat.

We have a rule where if she doesn't eat all her dinner she gets no after-school snacks for 7 days - her rule, not ours. We also have a rule where if she complains about dinner - which she used to do Every. Single. Dinner. she gets no tv after dinner (Simpsons is on at 6). Basically she complains about at least one aspect of virtually every food, so if we only ate what *she* said she liked we wouldn't eat anything at all, and I'm not kidding. So its very much a sit down, shut up, and eat your damn food approach here. Nothing is logical, there is no pattern at all to what she likes and doesn't like at dinner time so we are now beyond ignoring the constant whinging with the "no complaints" rule.

She likes some things - she'll drop hints for ages (she never asks for things) to get some foods - and then leave them in the cupboard, never touch them, and complain when we make her eat them that she never wanted that anyway, despite whining for 3 months before hand that eeeeeeveryone else gets honey, why doesn't she get honey, I love honey, why can't we buy honey. So we buy honey. A year later its barely touched. This has happened so often we are quite loathe to buy her anything she hints for unless someone else in the house will eat it too, so we just buy her stuff we think she'll like unprompted, which actually gets eaten.

As an example of the complaints - subtle but so consistent they drive us nuts because she *never* says anything good to balance them:

We had a free dinner at a community BBQ tonight. The only thing she said about the food? "These sausages are OK but I've had better".

We had the nicest roast chicken in the universe one night - everything about the meal turned out orgasmically perfect - and while we were waxing lyrical about how good it was and the baby was sitting there saying "yummy yummy yummy" between mouthfuls, she piped up with "at least its not dry".

And the list goes on. Considering almost everything that comes out of her mouth is complaining, whining, pessimistic*, negative, nasty, mildly insulting, bad or a put-down, clamping down on her dinner complaints is a small start in the right direction. Fortunately the baby hasn't picked up on any of it yet, but she does get quite upset with the way her big sister talks to her sometimes, she'll say neutral things like "come here" in the tone of voice normally reserved for shouting at a very disobedient puppy that just ate your favourite shoes and wonders why the baby gets teary with a quivering bottom lip.

I've been arguing with her all week again - this is posssibly the worst week for arguing we've had all year (she just spent two weeks visiting relatives, which could explain it). Pointless, irritating, inane, stupid, irrational, useless arguments that make absolutely no sense and just simply shouldn't happen. We were arguing in the butcher's today and he offered us a metre long wooden spoon ...

*I walk outside and remark "wow, it looks like it'll be a lovely day today" and she says "it looks like it will rain". Ad nauseum.
 
*I walk outside and remark "wow, it looks like it'll be a lovely day today" and she says "it looks like it will rain". Ad nauseum.

Ever tried agreeing with her? Like - "Yeah, you're right...and I think there's an asteroid heading for Earth..." :eek: :D

Cheers,

The Y-man
 
Lizzie,

Pots & pans are in this area, food is in fridge, lets cook together... Maybe a 6yr old need some education about food preperation & cooking ?

Master Chef calling..

As long as they can pick a top retirement village, who really cares & they also visit with grand kids.

Geoff
 
I have a 9 and 13 yr old

My mentors thaught me something that works...........tough love :)

They dont have to like, they just have to eat it........and it works !

ta
rolf
 
Hi Lizzie,

I was a similiar child when growing up, didnt like anything mum put in front of me. My parents had a simple solution, no one was to leave the table until the food was eaten. Some nights i was there until early mornings drifting too sleep into my plate! It didnt take long until i realised that sleeping on a hard wooden chair wasnt comfortable and that if i ate my dinner i could leave the table.... tough love as Rolf said is most often the love a child needs. Stick to your guns and dont give in!!

Jasc
 
I'm with Marg on this one, Lizzie.

Firm. No more, no less. No discussion. No argument. No punishment, no rewards .... oh and absolutely no giving in (by you).:D

Food is not a subject for punishment and argument as it might lead to some nasties in the teen years.

Eat or don't eat. This is it, take it or leave it. At bed time a big hug and a kiss - don't let her know how much it's getting to you.

I feel for you, my baby was very much the same. She's 21 now, slightly overweight and eats everything except coriander.

All the best,
 
When my kids were small I filled their plates.Small portions for small tummies.As they became teenagers, I had to fill their plates, so everyone would get some food:)
Why don't you offer the food at the table, and have her fill her own plate.Have the dessert be a standard serving, and she can eat it regardless.

Many times, if the child can help cook or even grow the food, they may be more willing to eat it.

There were certain things my kids didn't like, but there was always bread and butter or a salad available.
Really, fighting over food just isn't worth it.
A child has never died ( ? ) from being a fussy eater.
Try not to let it get to you, and dont make special meals for her.

When my kids were small one of their favorite lunches was "the regular". This consisted of pepperoni slices , cheese cubes , crackers, pickles, carrot sticks,tomato chunks etc.A bunch of nibbly food. They still talk about it.
 
stay strong Lizzie! I am with Marg on this one.
the rule at our house has always been eat or go to bed hungry. We always grew veges when the kids were little (and killed our own chooks) and I think that has helped as they perceive food production as a normal part of life.

It is hard but as long as both parents have a united front and can stick it out longerthan she can you will win ....eventually.

Rumpled.....OMG! and she is only 9???? our went like that at about 12 and is now starting to come out of it at 13. In fact all of ours went like that for grades 7 and 8 and then suddenly reverted back to normal humans! (luckily before we were inspired to violence)


Kids....gotta love 'em:D
 
Some nights i was there until early mornings drifting too sleep into my plate! It didnt take long until i realised that sleeping on a hard wooden chair wasnt comfortable and that if i ate my dinner i could leave the table.... tough love as Rolf said is most often the love a child needs. Stick to your guns and dont give in!!
Please don't do this to children. :(

Those foods I was force fed, I never eat now. (I've not cooked mashed vegies of any description in my house, ever, in the 20 years since I left home.) Thankfully the vegies my Mum cooked were nearly always mashed or over-boiled in the 70s, so there are plenty of other, healthier ways to eat vegies, or else I'd never eat vegies at all now. As it is, I now love a wide variety of steamed, stir-fried, and baked vegies. :)
Eat or don't eat. This is it, take it or leave it.
Really, fighting over food just isn't worth it.
A child has never died ( ? ) from being a fussy eater.
I agree with both of these. My paediatrician recommended that I provide a variety of healthy ingredients at each meal, and let the kids choose which ones they want from those options. He told me of a study where they did a bunch of tests on kids to test their levels of various nutrients etc, then let the kids choose whatever they want from a buffet of healthy meats, fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, etc.

Of course, many of the kids chose unbalanced meals. But guess what? Those who chose more red meat were those who were a little low on iron already, those who chose more low GI fruits had lower blood sugar, etc. Kids are actually remarkably in tune with their bodies and its individual needs. Forcing kids to eat certain foods destroys that intuitiveness. Some believe that our obesity epidemic is at least partly due to the western ideal of "cleaning your plate". (Stemming from affluence guilt.)

I notice that the countries with few obesity problems don't dish up a whole meal on a plate and present it to the diners; they tend to put a variety of dishes on the table and each diner takes multiple small servings, of their own choosing, over a period of time.

Some parents obsess over what their kids eat, others are extremely laissez-faire. I notice no significant difference in size, health, intelligence, or well-being between the children. IMHO, it's absolutely not worth risking your own and your kids' emotional health over food!
 
IMHO Let her eat what she wants as long as you don't have to cook separate meals.

When she starts going out to restaurants with friends or to friends places she will try other foods.

It is not worth fighting about and making everyone miserable.

On another note...
I remember reading an article many years about a young boy whose mother screamed at him because he took the last 3 biscuits in the packet said he was greedy couldn't he have left one biscuit for someone else.

Then the mother went out and found her son had hung himself in the backyard.

Don't fight over food and only seek help if underweight or overweight.


Sheryn
 
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Pots & pans are in this area, food is in fridge, lets cook together... Maybe a 6yr old need some education about food preperation & cooking ?

that's the funny thing - she does help me cook - slices the veges, puts things in the pot, mashes the potatoes (which she does like), feeds the meat scraps to the dog etc ... she even helps me plant and pick in the vege garden.

i think it's just going to have to be firm and consistant - eat or don't eat, but don't tell me you're hungry later.
 
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