My husband walks out of the kitchen in a huff, “I’m done,” he says running his fingers through his hair, “I don’t know what else to do. You try.”
We cannot get our four-year-old daughter, Leia, to eat.
We’ve tried not giving her any snacks so she’s hungry for mealtime and negotiating bribes of desserts/outings/toys/gold/diamonds at the end of a meal. These tactics seem to work at first, but after the novelty wears off, she flexes her stubborn-muscle and squarely refuses to eat. She then uses that muscle to play a game of tug of war with us where she drags our asses through a mud pit and leaves us with bruised cheeks, low morale, and a fair amount of post-traumatic stress.
Leia’s entire diet consists of:
1. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
2. Tyson’s Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets or McNuggets (and heaven forbid you try to feed her any other kind of chicken nugget or chicken in any other form!).
3. Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Papa John’s, or certain local pizzeria pizza.
(Sorry Domino’s, you didn’t make the cut.)
4. Potato bread buns or dinner rolls (usually served with number 5).
5. String cheese. (Only white! And not Polly-O!)
6. Zone Perfect Nutrition Bars Kidz. (They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein and they’re total life savers when she’s being extra difficult).
7. Potato chips (cheese and sour-cream-and-onion flavored only).
8. Fruit snacks.
13. Ice cream.
Sometimes my husband and I feel so alone in our struggle to keep our picky eater fed and alive, but we’re not the only ones struggling with this, right?
I read a post once in a moms’ Facebook group where a mom perfectly described Leia’s current diet.
She wrote something along the lines of, “My child survives on rainbows and unicorn farts.”
I often find myself recalling that Facebook post after exceptionally rough mealtimes and I find some solace in the fact that other parents are currently grappling with their own picky eaters.
And so the spirit of solidarity, I decided to appeal to my social media support network to ask if anyone else has a picky eater; and if so, how do they get their kids to eat?
What Do Other Parents Say?
“Yes, all about the negotiation!!! I believe right now mine claim to only like squeeze yogurt, fruit, cheese sticks, and all Halloween candy.” —Meghan
“Eat or go to bed…” —Maria
“Let them be. Why force them to eat? Says the mom of 5 who can’t keep enough food in the house. Either it’s a phase or a control tactic. Either way, best not give it unnecessary attention.” —Angela
Been There Done That
“I had two very picky eaters and they now have two picky eaters each. My advice is to not worry about it too much. It is completely normal at this age. Offer her new foods regularly, but don’t let mealtime become a struggle. If you continue to offer her new foods and she sees your example, eventually she will widen her selection too.” —Linda
Kids Will Be Kids
“My kids are crazy picky too and then some days not at all haha! You’re not alone!”
“Child #1: food interrupted her playtime.
For #1, we chased her around with a plate of food all day, and learned she’d eat when she got hungry. For #2, we had to hide food.
Lesson: Kids are weird and different, and they’ll be fine.
I have three completely different human-shaped creatures. Same household, same values, same parenting… completely different behaviors.
So much beyond our intentions goes into shaping a human brain, it turns out.” —Josh
How Have We Been Dealing With Leia’s Picky Eating?
We contacted a behavior feeding therapist to help teach us how to have a less stressful mealtime and effectively integrate new foods into Leia’s diet. Leia has been seeing the therapist three times a week for the last few weeks, and I’m so proud to announce that Leia now eats ham!! (Yay!)
The “reward chart” not only motivates her to eat her meals, but it also helps us out because she pitches in with the household chores, so everyone wins!
Above all, always remember that even though you may feel like you’re getting your ass kicked by your picky eater, you’re kicking ass at parenting.
P.S. Thank you so much to the parents who participated in this blog post. Your comments
and advice on social media mean so much to me. <3 Make sure to visit the parents who are
quoted in this post at their social media accounts by clicking on their names. Thanks, lovelies! ;*