Do you make your kids finish their plates? why or why not?

[deleted account] ( 231 moms have responded )

ive heard 2 sides to this, wondering what you moms do? thanks :)

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Lissa - posted on 06/23/2011

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No, children are good self regulators they eat what they need. They have their meal, if they don't eat it that's fine but they also don't get other things. If they claim they aren't hungry for dinner then they aren't hungry for sandwiches etc either. Also whenever I give them something new i ask them to eat one mouthful, if they like it great, if not they don't have to eat it.
Of course if you offer nice things when they haven't eaten their meals they know you will cave, why would they eat proper food if you will give in and let them have a treat instead.

Jane - posted on 06/23/2011

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@Shannin - Instead of a padlock, set up a snack cabinet with healthy snacks and let your eater graze all day on good fruit, veg, nuts, and low-fat meats. Being a grazer is more the way our ancestors ate, having a series of snacks all day as they found them. My daughter eats this way and so will probably remain thin most of her life, and her blood glucose levels will stay more stable.

In fact, most nutritionists say we should have 5 meals a day; the biggest is in the morning when we first get up, and the rest should be smaller, some being snack-sized meals and some being a bit larger but still not big meals.

Sherri - posted on 06/23/2011

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Nope if you choose not to eat what is placed in front of you, it remains on the table till bedtime at which time it is discarded. At that point you go to bed hungry and wait till morning for breakfast.

Krista - posted on 06/23/2011

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As long as he eats a reasonable amount, no, I don't make him finish his plate. I have some days when I'm hungrier (or less hungry) than others, so why would my child not have the same variations in appetite. I look more at what he's eaten throughout the day -- if one meal is a bit scanty, it's not a big deal.

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Ashley - posted on 06/27/2011

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I am all about cleaning plates and not wasting food. I have a 16 month old daughter and then 2 boys that I nanny for that are 3 and 5. But I never give them a ton and start off with smaller portions and then sometimes they ask for more, sometimes they don't. But they know they need to eat their food because its not nice to be wasteful and to not eat the food you ask for. The 3 year old is really bad about asking for food and then doesn't even want to touch it after its been made up. Even when I ask him.. Are you sure you are going to eat it "Yes!", and if you ask for it you need to eat it! "I will" So he needs to finish his plate. And like I said, I never give them a ton. I give them a little bit of everything and they eat it up and they know they have to eat what they ask for and it never seems to be an issue. So its not like I make them eat a filled up plate that is too much, but I make them eat what they ask for within reason...

Katie - posted on 06/27/2011

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No I don't. My food rules are, you have to try at least one bite of something new, and in order to get dessert, you have to eat the same amount of bites of each item, that you are old (3 year old has to eat 3 bites of meat, 3 bites of side, 3 bites of veggie) in order to get dessert. However, if you don't eat everything on your plate, you can not have a snack later...you may have the dessert ( a popsicle or handful of yogurt pretzels, etc.) but if you're still hungry...you're eating the rest of your dinner. My 3 year old ate everything on his plate until he turned 3, now he lives on air. My 4 year old lived on air until he was almost 4, now he chows down. Each child is different and they each know how much they need for fuel.
good luck

Shirley - posted on 06/27/2011

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no, because she know's when she's full. I don't want her to get into the habbit of over eatiing because she doesn't want to get into trouble. we should not force our kids to eat.

Beth - posted on 06/27/2011

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Unless you want to teach them that they either have to stuff themselves and eat even if they aren't hungry, or that food is about control (you can't make me eat) I would just let them eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. I am a counselor and specialize in eating disorders. I have two kids that don't really eat all that much, and I don't make them. If they are hungry, believe me, they will chow down. I present healthy food only. If they are truly hungry they WILL eat. If they are not, they won't. I leave the food sitting on the table and they can come back to it later when they are feeling more hungry.

Farhana - posted on 06/27/2011

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My mom always gave us enough that we would be able to finish what we had and clean the plate. She would never let us leave anything behind but sometimes it is difficult for the kids little tummies to be able to eat all that's on the plate.
In our house, I believe in cleaning your plate for two reasons. First of all it teaches them to not waste food that they have and understand that their are others who might not have food just like my kids do.
Second reason is selfish, I don't want to eat the left overs from their plate in order to avoid throwing food out because then I end up gaining weight :-)
My Solution: Start out with small portion, there is always plenty more to have. Even if they ask to give more than what you handed them.

Nancy - posted on 06/27/2011

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depends on what it is and how much I put on their plate. If I feel as though there is more than they need on their plate, I have them eat x amount of bites if they want dessert. I usually put a fair amount on their plate and ask they want dessert, they need to eat everything on their plate.

April - posted on 06/27/2011

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I usually place two to three very small pieces of each item on my daughter's plate, and ask her to eat those items. If she refuses to after many attempts of getting her to eat- I tell her that's ok, and thanks for trying, but she will have to wait until the rest of the family is done eating. When we pull out something she really wants (fruit/dessert); and she starts whining about wanting those yummier looking things - i remind her she didn't eat her other food, so she can't have what we are eating unless she eats at least 3 bites of the food placed on her plate originally. Usually that seems to be motivation enough for her.

Lisa - posted on 06/27/2011

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I don't, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea. Maybe it would eliminate them being hungry an hour after meals because they didn't eat! -btw, I'm Lisa, and can't figure out how to get this silly pseudonym off and my real profile to show up.

Evelyn - posted on 06/27/2011

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As an aside...making your child eat themselves sick, or making them obese, does not help a single starving person.

Teresa - posted on 06/27/2011

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no, after they say they are done i will encourage another bite or two just to make sure they are still full. my oldest does really well with eating, he would rather have vegis over fruit, my 2nd is a girl and she spent two yearsbeing super picky, if i tried to force anything in her mouth she would throw up all over. my baby now is starting to be picky. i am a very picky eater so i make sure that they know that everyone is different and so are the things they all like. my oldest will not drink juice, i tell him thats ok but the other two love it but dont love broccoli like my son, thats ok cause they are different and its ok to be different. they are still expected to eat what is served and fill up on that. after they eat then we can talk about a cookie or ice cream.

[deleted account]

Be careful of all of this forcing them to eat all of their veggies. My mother did not care what I liked or disliked. She also had (still does) a habit of drying the heck out of everything she cooked. While forcing them to eat is fine if that is what you believe, your plan might backfire, as it did in my case. I am 45 and eat very little veggies. I did not force my kids and both of them like veggies. To De, since when is juice a treat. Apple juice is just as healthy as an apple if you get the right brand. I like the flavor of apples and bananas but do not like their consistency.

Nicole - posted on 06/27/2011

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We always start out with small portions and they have to finish or no snacks between meals. They have to try everything once but are allowed to have two foods they never have to eat. (IE. mine have always been squash and eggplant.)

De - posted on 06/27/2011

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Don't want to get into power-and-control issues at meal times. I had a friend whose child only ate WHITE foods (potatoes, bread, rice, etc.). He won the food wars since she could not force him to eat. I decided then and there to let hunger assist me in dealing with food issues.The intent should always be to provide a well-rounded and nourishing food experience for your child. With that in mind I have a "nibbler" grandson. I work around that by laying out good food choices and then let him graze throughout the day until its all gone. There does not have to be a battle since you can refrigerate what is not eaten and bring it back out later. Any treats such as juice or specialty items are withheld until the basics have been consumed. This way your child regulates their own appetites and you stay in control (and sane).

Amy - posted on 06/27/2011

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No I don't because I had to when I was a young child leaving often sick. I allow my children to a lot of choices. Encouraging smart ones! This way they don't over eat something denied like to much sugar. Small amounts more times in the day is better says the doctors.

Bernadette - posted on 06/27/2011

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Hi , yes my son and every one has to finish his plate ,,, First the mother has to know how much her baby is able to eat, instead of preparing for the baby a big portion and the rest goes to trash! second every child has to adapt and understand how to finish what they start. third there is millions of childrens and peoples are dying daily from starving for a peice of bread or some rice and clean water ... sorry for talking too much but this is my opinion and we all have to consider and remember the other always ! Bless you xxx

Naomi - posted on 06/27/2011

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First of all ,most people put way too much food on a child's plate, their stomachs are not very big ,about the size of their own fist ,so if they eat big portions of food they are over eating ,try just a tablespoon of each foods at a time ,if they finish that give them a little more of all the foods again .If they don't eat anything ,save it and try it later ,they will not starve to death if they miss a meal...

Laura - posted on 06/27/2011

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No I do not, but I do try to get her to eat a reasonable amount. I always offer her veggies and protein first and then fruit and grains (she likes the latter better). Some days she is less hungry and other days she is more hungry, just like me! :)

Jenny - posted on 06/27/2011

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Not at all! Right now we are struggling with getting our daughter to eat veggies (she used to eat them, no problem). We include the veggies on her plate and after she eats her other foods, if she asks for more, we tell her she needs to make some veggies go to her tummy. She accomplishes this by taking small bites and sending the food down with her milk or apple sauce.

Joyce - posted on 06/27/2011

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NO way!! I personally think that is a huge contributor to obesety. I give her a small portion and if she wants more, I give her more. If she says she's done and I don't think she has eaten enough then I tell her she has to eat so many bites before she can get down. My daughter is 2 1/2 and is a good eater. Good luck on your decision!!!

LASHON - posted on 06/27/2011

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NO!! MAKE THEM EAT ALL THEIR VEGGIES FIRST!! BUT THATS IT!! MAKING CHILDREN EAT EVERYTHING ON THEIR PLATE FORMS A HABIT OF OVER EATTING!! AND CAN LEAD TO BEING OVER WEIGHT!!!

Judy - posted on 06/27/2011

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When my kids where little that was law. Now I am 62 years old and i no longer make them. Kids will eat when they are hungry-this through the years I have learned they will eat when hungry. The agreement is they eat half of what is on there plate. They always want something at bedtime cereal, sandwishes or leftovers. I believe its good to have them eat some of there dinner to learn what the meal time is bout

Melanie - posted on 06/27/2011

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I never force him to eat everything, but I do try to compromise when he says he's all done (& he hasn't eaten much yet). I split the plate & ask him to eat half of it. If he doesn't finish all or most of his meal, he doesn't get any other snacks until the next meal. If he's hungry enough to snack then he is hungry enough to finish what's on his plate I figure :)

Ann - posted on 06/27/2011

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It depends on several things - what I fixed, how much they have already eaten, what time they had their last meal or snack, and how much physical activity they have done that day (on days they are outside, they eat a LOT more!) However, when we are out (mostly @ my in laws) I tend to be a little more lenient and push 1 or 2 more bites then they can have desert.

Erin - posted on 06/27/2011

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If my kid tells me they are full, they at least have to stay at the table with us until we are all finished, then help clear the table, as per a normal dinnertime routine.
Her plate is saved, and in 20 minutes when I know for a fact shes going to ask for dessert, I will remind her of how she was full. She will usually say "full of dinner, not dessert!" So most of the time mine is only "full" because she wants more dessert. Which shes learning doesnt work that way. I wont force her to put the food in her mouth when we are, if she says she is full, but she will eventually have to eat that dinner before she gets her dessert.

Billie Jo - posted on 06/27/2011

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yes we do. If they don't eat thier dinner they don't get treats after dinner. Plus my boys 12 and 6 are always hungry 10 mins after dinner, so the more they eat the long it is before they are hungry again.

Sheila - posted on 06/27/2011

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i agree with what Krista has said my child is a picky eater so i have to stay on top of him to assure he will eat but if he finishes a good portion then i let it be. Growing up i was taught you eat all that was on your plate well sometimes you were full , not feeling well and it teaches bad eating habits , and unessary weight gain.

Erin - posted on 06/27/2011

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"They don't have to eat it all, but they do have to eat it all BEFORE asking for anything else."
Valerie, that pretty much sums up my household!
Just yesterday, we were at grandpas for dinner, she didnt want to eat at all. We told her she didnt have to (casual bbq setting) but she would have a plate with some food that she had to finish before asking for anything else.
Lo and behold, half an hour later she wanted the strawberries we had. We got her food out and told her again what the deal was (which she shook on, she loves hand shakes!) She said "Oh right" finished her plate quick, even asked for more steak, and then she got her strawberries! She just wasnt ready to eat at the time we had dinner served, and for casual settings I dont see a problem at all, it was a bbq on the patio, and there WAS another kid there she has only met once, so I can understand how she would rather play with him than sit with boring parents!

Kim - posted on 06/27/2011

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I grew up knowing that I had to finish what was on my plate before leaving the dinner table... I used that rule for a long time but my youngest son (8 yrs old) changed my thinking a bit... When I make his plate, I only put on his plate what I know that he will eat and in small portions and then he decides whether he will eat more the 2nd time around. I also have loosened way up on his eating what we do. I fought the battle for a long time and finally learned to fight the battles that really count so when he doesn't like what we have for supper he is able to eat a pb&j sandwich or a bowl of cereal, which he loves! Some battles just aren't worth the fight that ensues... Hope this helps! Oh, I also have the rule that if my kids say "Ewww..." while I'm cooking dinner they have to try at least a bite of whatever it is that they eww'd at... They, my daughter especially, has found that she does like a lot more then what she thought she did. :)

[deleted account]

I NEVER forced my kids to eat. If they were not hungry they did not get junk food in an hour but I would give them something healthy. Also, unlike some other mothers on here, I usually fixed them things they liked so it was not usually an issue. My son is now 6'1" and thinks four sandwiches are a snack and is ready for dinner an hour later. My daughter is 5'3" and weighs 100 lbs sopping wet but it is NOT from not eating. She can put away food. Give them healthy things they like and cleaning their plate will not be an issue.

Mary Alice - posted on 06/27/2011

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Serve them a CHILD'S portion of food. Have them TRY everything, but do not force them to eat all that is on their plates. Have planned healthy snacks between meals. No other snacks or nibbling. Remember that even for adults, our appetites vary from day to day. Our eyes can sometimes be bigger than our stomachs, too. Just be sure that they are not piling food onto their plates and then throwing it away.

Crystal - posted on 06/27/2011

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I never make my kids finish their plates. They do have to finish their veggies if they want seconds of anything! : )

Katie - posted on 06/27/2011

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Everyone's different. For me, the important thing is to be aware of the child's motivation. All fine and well if you have kids who really do know when they are hungry and when they are full, but mine already will tell me she's "full" just because she's bored, and then 5 minutes later ask me for something else, usually in the nature of cookies and ice cream. If it's not a treat night, she gets to finish her dinner if she's still really hungry...(that answer is rarely, "ok,") or she gets nothing;sometimes, it's a matter of that she's just not liking what she was given, didn't eat much of it at all...if she chooses a nutritious and low prep alternative, like carrot sticks or something, I'll go with it. If it IS a treat night, she has to finish all of what she was given for dinner, keeping in mind that, as she's nearly 5, I nearly always give her choices, she picks what she's having for dinner, and I've gotten downright anal about portions, so she's never getting more that she should have or can finish without being overfed.

Rebecca - posted on 06/27/2011

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I make my kids eat as much as they can. If they can't finish their plate it gets put in the fridge and they eat the rest later. I do not believe in wasting food.

Courtney - posted on 06/27/2011

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no, we make them take as many bites as years of their age. So, my 4 year old has to take 4 bites and my 1 year old has to take 1 more bite if she's not eaten much

Rhonda - posted on 06/27/2011

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No way! Kids know when they are hungry and when they are not. I don't clear my plate so why should I expect my child to.

Donna - posted on 06/27/2011

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I didn't because my Father was abusive about it.Mealtimes were miserable in our house growing up and it left me with an eating disorder. I made my kids try new foods but they didn't have to eat them if they didn't like them. Of course I made sure they ate healthy and enough.There are always circumstances where they just aren't hungry.

Katie - posted on 06/27/2011

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For me it depends on what's for dinner and what she wants after dinner. If it's a treat night, with something she really likes for dessert, I always make sure she finishes everything I give her for dinner first. I also make sure I'm giving her reasonable portions of nutritious foods that she's proven she likes. I save the new things for non-dessert nights; that way, she's not feeling like she's got to choke down something she hates for a sweet food reward, which has it's obvious likelihood of setting up over-eating and poor eating habits later on.

Dee - posted on 06/27/2011

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I start my 3 year old with very small portions. You really never know how there moods are on eating on minute they are starving and will everything they see and the next there not hungry at all. So conclusion, very small portions.

Ruth - posted on 06/27/2011

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I try to only give my kids a small amount of food on their plates. When they finish, they can have more. If they don't finish, I put it in the fridge for the next meal. If they don't eat it for the next meal, they don't get any more food, but I throw away any that doesn't get eaten after the second meal. Then, I start fresh the third meal. I rarely throw any away.

Carina - posted on 06/27/2011

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They don't have to finish their plates, but they have to eat a certain number of bites. My oldest has become extremely picky, and would it 2-3 bites and be done, but then be famished later. I try to give them food they like, along with healthy things they wouldn't choose on their own (broccoli especially! :)).

[deleted account]

I make them taste any new or unfamiliar food . . . it's a POSITIVE, learning about something new and potentially exciting. Otherwise finishing the plate is not required. But no between meal treats or desserts unless a reasonable amount of mealtime food was consumed. I sometimes make sure there is a favorite thing on the plate if there is also something they don't like as much. More likely to eat a real meal that way. But pushing food is a no no. I ALWAYS had to eat EVERYTHING on my plate and have struggled with weight since childhood.

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