Terrible 3's? Trouble eating

Lauren - posted on 04/25/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )

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I was warned about the terrible 2's, but now I'm being told by several moms that 3 is far worse than 2. I suppose this is because they have a greater understanding of the world around them, but are still too small or too young to perform tasks they wish they could do. My daughter will be 3 this August, and has started a defiant regiment whenever asked to do anything lately - and me, being in my 8th month of pregnancy, have had low tolerance for it.

It started with eating. We would ask her what she wanted at meal time, and with her little budding sense of humor, she would answer things like "kitty!" - cute, yes. But after several minutes of not getting an answer and my & my husband's dinner growing colder, it becomes frustrating. When I tell her mommy will choose her meal, cue the temper tantrum. Once she finally decided what she wants, it takes her what seems about 4 years to finish it. I would much rather feed her and speed up the process, but my husband believes that she needs to be feeding herself at nearly 3 years old, and with a baby sister on the way who will actually NEED to be fed - which is true. So, we sit there, and have to coach her through each and every bite - which she hoards in her cheek for minutes at a time before actually chewing and swallowing. I've tried counting down her bites "only 4 more bites! You're doing great!" and throwing in the promise or dessert "and then you can have a special treat!" And then, after 30 minutes passes with only 3 or 4 more bites taken, the little threats come into play: "maybe we won't be able to watch your special show tonight if you can't eat dinner like a big girl"

Eventually, she eats her whole meal. But this literally takes an hour. Even right now, it is 7:40am, i made her oatmeal about an hour ago, and she is still sitting at the dining room table with a few bites of breakfast to finish. I started be helping her get bites onto her spoon, but having her feed herself. Then, once the bites just sat in the spoon, I told her Mommy was going to sit on the couch and wait for her to finish (our living room neighbors our dining room, and I am still pretty much right next to her, but she hates when I'm not sitting at the table with her). Still, no progress with eating. Anytime she is asked to take a bite, she lunges for her sippy cup and chugs her milk. Next, I had to tell her that we cannot watch her 2 favorite morning TV shows until her breakfast is gone. That didn't have much effect either. Finally, I told her that she can finish her breakfast, or go sit in her room until she is ready to listen like a big girl. She took a bite, but had to be reminded about the next. Finally, frustrated mommy said the worst: Ok, maybe we can't watch TV this morning. Maybe tomorrow if you're a better listener" and, temper tantrum.

i really have no idea how to get her to eat on her own (within a reasonable time frame). I make sure she's hungry; asking her first and making sure there is a fair amount of time between snack time and meal time. I give her a few options of what to have at each meal, so I know she's eating something she wants. I've tried everything from staying calm and patient the whole time, adding a firm tone to my voice, coaching through each bite and threatening to take dessert or a special show away. She does it to be silly, making jokes and singing songs through it all, and we try hard to allow her to just be a kid & have fun, but these 2-hour meal ordeals have become over frustrating.

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Michelle - posted on 04/25/2012

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First I would take the options out of it you know what she likes to eat so make sure there is something she will eat in front of her, second loose the sippy cup while she is eating the reason she is taking so long is she is full she is filling up on milk instead of food. Those last few bites you are forcing her to eat I wouldn't bother teaching children to eat everything on their plate instead of stopping when they are full can lead to obeseity. Lastly at 2 and 3 children like to graze so if she doesn't want to eat anymore tell her to go play and it will be there for her when she is hungry. Make things a game to see who can finish faster kids like that sort of stuff the more you make a big deal out of her eating the more she is going to dig in and make you crazy. good luck

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