As most of you know, Cole is a SUPER picky eater. Like "can-we-have-breakfast-for-dinner-seven-nights-in-a-row" kind of picky eater.
Brendan and I decided recently that we have had enough of making separate dinners for Cole. And we agreed that waffles every night were definitely not giving him the kind of nutrition a growing boy needs (even if they were whole grain waffles). The fact that he also will refuse to eat almost anything when we go over someone's else's house is a bit off-putting for me as well- but I see that this is partly me as I was concerned that I now had "THAT" child.
Anyway, last week we started telling Cole he would have to eat whatever Mommy or Daddy made for dinner...no exceptions.
And the whining began. And the "But I don't want (insert yummy dinner item here) for dinner! I want pancakes/cereal/grilled cheese for dinner!!"
But we kindly assured Cole we were firm on this and he would be served whatever we made for dinner.
Dinners have not been fun at our house these past two weeks. I admit, the focus for dinner has been on Cole, telling Cole he has to try only one bite and then he can have (insert special treat item here) after that. Our goal was just to get him to try new foods. With the exception of tacos, he refused. (Don't ask me how Brendan got him to try tacos but I think it was because the taco shell is really a big chip.)
Tonight's dinner was especially bad. It started in the car when Brendan announced he was making hamburgers for dinner and asked Cole if he wanted cheese on his. Cole happily announced he wanted cheese and we were surprised until we realized he did want cheese...but only cheese...no hamburger patty with it.
Dinner was ridiculous. He started crying when we set the hamburgers on the table. We tried everything...coaxing...silliness....bribery....the threat of going to bed. He erupted into a full blown crying fit after about 10 minutes. I know this was mostly because he was exhausted but I'm sure it was also because he was stressed out as well. He's stubborn, that one. (Gee, can't see where on earth he gets that from, can you?!)
The night (stand-off, I call it) ended after 40 minutes and Cole complaining that he wanted to go to bed. I did send him to bed eventually only because he really was exhausted and I did not see the point of prolonging it anymore this evening. I sat down with him and told him that he was losing his stories for the night because he had refused to eat his dinner. He nodded, accepting his fate, but not without "Can I please have my stuffed lovies though?" Of course I didn't turn away that request.
As the night settled down, I picked up my latest issue of Wonder Time magazine. I LOVE this magazine. It is so different that the Parents magazine and is SO much more helpful. I recommend this to any Mom or Dad. Well, the cover article was "How picky eaters are born and made". I won't bore you with the article but if you're interested it is online on their website. Anyway, what I took away from the article was two-fold, dinner time was now a power struggle between Mom/Dad and Cole and we had let him get into a "food-jag" which meant that picky eaters now become more inflexible.
I read the article to Brendan who agreed with the author of the article as well. We have decided to back down from talking up new foods at dinner or bring attention to dinner time in general-- dinner time focus will go back to "how was your day" and our family favorite "tell me something that made you happy today" instead of "Cole eat your dinner". Focus will go back to happiness and family togetherness and be redirected off of Cole and his eating habits. There are other things we will try as we understand Cole's love/hate relationship with food but this is the biggest one we'll start with tomorrow.
See? Sometimes parenting does come with an instruction manual! Thank goodness because there is just sometimes I do feel completely lost!