Friday, November 13, 2009

Being a Stronger Parent

Or better titled "I don't want to be a lazy parent anymore."

My daughter does not eat many things.

Oh, if I list them, they seem like a lot, but when you realize that there are three meals a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, the choices are minimal.

Up until 18 months of age, this little girl ate everything. Rice, chicken, chops, hamburger meat, peas, carrots, you name it.

Then at 24 months, she started saying no to things, and we would let her slide. "It's just this time," we would say. Things she loved, she refused to eat. Then her likes went in cycles. Currently, she won't eat yogurt, even though if we let her, she would eat a container for every snack about 6 months ago.

We let her slide. And slide. I'd prepare a separate meal for her, usually something not very healthy or good for her. "She'll grow out of it," we said to each other. Honestly, we're lazy. We don't want an argument or to "let her go hungry" so we'd fix her her own meal.

We would try to force her to eat things once in a while, and she would cry. Being invited to people's homes for meals caused me stress. What would we do when they served something Isabel would not eat? Like the party where all she ate was chips? *sigh*

She's 5 now. I stress about her eating habits. I give her vitamins, milk, juices with hidden veggies in it. I feel like I am the only one who stresses. She was 2 and now she is 5 and she still has not grown out of it.

This Tuesday night, I took a stand. I was not making her a separate meal.

We had carrots, chicken and rolls. I sat her down and explained to her that she was a big girl and like all the other big kids in her class, she had to eat what everyone else eats. She started to whine and cover her face with her hands. I told her that was not allowed. Before my son or I ate, I cut her some very small pieces of everything and fed her myself. A few whines for drink later, and she was done with her meal. The same meal we all ate.

I cook every other day, to give us time to eat the leftovers. The next meal was Thursday. Peppercorn-rubbed steak in marinade, cooked with carrots (I overbought, ok? lol), red potatoes, and crescent rolls. Again, I sat her down with the plate in front of her. Again she whined. Again I told her no, I would not have whining at the table. I fed her the first few bites. This time she asked if she could eat all the carrots first herself. I said yes and handed her the fork. She likes them. Then she ate the meat, coughing a couple of times as if she were gagging, but she ate all she was served. The potatoes were last (and I can't blame her; they were undercooked.)

I want my kids eating healthier. She loves fruits; apples, bananas, strawberries and grapes are always in the house. It's the veggies she would not do. So far, carrots are a hit. We're going to keep trying. Every time she's said she does not like anything this week, I tell her that's impossible, because she's never tried it. I've said that in the past, but I don't think she understood what I was saying. She's older and understands me more.

I don't want to be a lazy parent. I am feeling better and better every day about this.


Bobguyman said...

Kaaren, take my word on this:

My parents were a bit lazy on my sister as far as her eating habits go. As a result, she's ten now and the biggest brat imaginable. "Oh, I'm not going to eat the chili- It has green things in it" or "I don't like this chocolate milk- you put white milk in it this time, didn't you?" There are many times when I want to reach across the table and smack her.

Do not let her eating habits go again... Okay? =)


Hendel D'bu said...

This has been an issue in my family...well, eating anyway. From a very early age (around 18 mos.), my daughter would simply not eat things. I would try to force it, as I can be rather stubborn. After weeks of fighting and total warfare in our household, my mother told me a valuable truth: there are two things you cannot control in a child, what goes in and what comes out. She was very right. My Morgan is healthy and 16 now, and still a very picky eater (and she absolutely does not mind skipping a meal when there is nothing she wants to eat). She makes her own meals and is slowly expanding her eating choices. My other two (sons) eat just fine (my shopping bill will testify to that!)

Sometimes it's just a personality thing. I really have to respectfully disagree with my friend BOB; it sounds like there is more going on to make his sister act that way than just allowing picky eating...

Good luck to you, my friend. It sounds like your sweet Isabel is going to be just fine :-)

Niki said...

Good for you. It must be hard to take a stand especially when you are tired after work, but it will pay off in the long run.