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Monday, July 11, 2011

Dinner Time Woes... Need Opinions

For the past few months, I've been having difficulty getting my 3 1/2 year old son to eat dinner.  His usual breakfast consists of Ovaltine mixed with milk, a breakfast bar, and sometimes a tiny bit of cereal.He used to eat a banana every morning but as of late, he is not into bananas.  Lunch varies.  Sometimes he eats good, other times not so much.  He really likes apples slices with caramel so sometimes I allow him to have that.  That's about the only fruit I can get Ben to eat right now. Other times, he will eat cheese on crackers with the occasional lunch meat included.  He also likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Between breakfast and lunch, the kids are constantly complaining of being hungry even though they are allowed a couple of snacks.  I get extremely frustrated at times because they seem to want to eat junk all day long.  I've even gone to the extreme of not buying any snacks except the healthy ones to no avail.  When I do that, the other family member goes on the hunt for snacks and when his hunt ends in vain, he will venture up to the closest store to buy a snack. So my efforts to feed my family more healthy foods is just not working out here.
Ben especially has his father's sweet tooth.  If I don't give Ben what he wants, he actually becomes violent and starts to hit me or throw stuff around or even knock stuff off the table.  I have disciplined him countless times for this behavior. 
As I mentioned, dinner time has been a battle for the past few months.  I know Ben likes most of what I cook. Lately, though, he is just turning his nose up just about every night.  I am not the sort of parent who will force my kids to eat stuff that I know for a fact they don't like.  For instance, Jackie gags on fish. She has nearly vomited from it. So if I cook something that involves fish, I don't mind cooking a different side dish for her.  If I cook something that is not very child friendly, I will cook something different for the kids.  I am NOT going to force my children to eat stuff that I know they cannot stand.  I was forced all through my childhood to eat stuff that I did not like, even atypical foods. In addition to that, I had oral sensory issues.  Even if something had a pleasant aroma and/or flavor, if it felt funny in my mouth, I couldn't eat it without gagging.  As a result of being forced to eat those foods, I became a picky eater.  And I still have oral sensory issues.  I do not want my children to struggle with these issues.  I do, however, encourage my children to try certain foods and will put a small sample of such on their plates. 
In dealing with Ben's dinner time issues, I have come to the point of telling him that if he gets up from the table, he will get one reminder that he needs to sit with the rest of us and eat.  If he continues to get up, then he is done with his dinner.  No dinner = no snack.  I used to occasionally offer him a peanut butter sandwich after dinner but no other snack.  I quit doing that.  If he doesn't eat dinner, then he doesn't get anything else until breakfast time. 
Unfortunately, the other adult member of this family does not see eye to eye on this issue.  He agrees no snacks if the kids don't eat dinner.  But his idea of snacks does not include raisins.  He and I disagree.  Do you find raisins to be a healthy snack?  Well, I guess they are better than candy, cookies, or cake.  Tonight, Ben did not eat his dinner.  Again.  Then awhile later, Ben started rummaging through the pantry (yes, I have safety lock on the pantry door but last summer, Ben figured out  how to disengage it), and came out with raisins.  I told him no.  Well, he went and asked his daddy.  Guess what Daddy said? Yes, you guessed it.  He can have raisins.  When I reminded Tim that Ben did not eat dinner and then asked why he allowed Ben to have raisins, his reply was that they're healthy so he thought it would be okay.  Hmm, raisins are better than candy, cookies, or cake but they are not healthy in my opinion.  At least, not deserving enough to be a healthy alternative to dinner.  I was a little frustrated because I feel like we're not on the same team when it comes to trying to teach our son good eating habits.  But if I allow my kids an after-school snack (during the school year), he has his own opinions about it.  I can't win for losing.  I admit that there have been times that I got so tired of hearing "I'm hungry" that I just open the pantry and let the kids go at it. 
So, do any of my readers have opinions on this issue?  Any suggestions? 

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