Is it bad to send a kid to bed without dinner, even if you've given them options?

Brittany - posted on 02/17/2012 ( 48 moms have responded )




We have a six year old who is terrible and a demon. She does whatever she wants whenever and no matter what we do, wall, corner, chair, pop on the foot grounded she doesn't care. She just waits, then is good for a day gets what she wants and then starts it all over.

Recently I've been having problems with her dinner issues. We are on a tight budget so I make good wholesome meals while still saving food. One night I made chicken, rice and veggies. She didn't want to eat it and said "I'm not eating that. I want something else." I told her she needed to eat what I made her. She pitched a fit, hit, stomped her feet, yelled and got sent to the wall. (Which means standing against the wall for 6 minutes) after that she still wouldn't eat it. So I made her a PBJ (Peanut butter jelly sandwhich) I thought "Maybe she isn't that hungry" I figured if she ate the sandwhich and was still hungry maybe she'd eat some veggies. She came into the kitchen, "I'm not eating that, I want something else" she screamed. So I sent her to bed without dinner.

What I want to know is, I'm sure I have her plenty of options. She picked Chicken and rice for dinner herself, then once it was made she didn't want to eat it. I've made her sit at the table before until she ate but she just fell asleep.

I didn't like sending her to bed without dinner, but as we are on a tight budget I can't just go making everything under the sun until she finally agrees to eat it. Nor will I bend to her every whim.

On sunny warm days, not hot, I'll have her sit outside in a chair for 10 minutes until she calms down. We live in the desert so she can scream and kick and yell and not disturb anyone.

The fact of the matter is, I don't like picking up perfectly good food on the floor and having to throw it away just because she throws a temper tantrum.

We are currently getting her tested for ADD or ADHD. I think she just has a spoiled attitude that she gets from her mother when she spends time with her. Since her mom does anything and everything just to keep her quiet. Movies, candy, anything just so she'll shut up or not scream and pitch a fit.

Any ideas??


Proud - posted on 02/19/2012




I'd say let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.

You told her that she needed to eat the chicken and rice and when she pitched a fit you made her a sandwich.

All this really teaches her is if I throw a fit I'll get my way.

Personally I would have kept putting that same chicken and rice in front of her until she ate it

Johnny - posted on 02/19/2012




I think going to bed without dinner might actually be good for her. Natural consequences. You don't eat, you get hungry. Might work better than time outs or standing at the wall.

Jodi - posted on 02/17/2012




She'd be going to bed hungry in my house. It has been known to happen.

User - posted on 02/17/2012




I offer menu options. The options are take it or leave it.

Have you tried getting her involved in preparing the food? This can sometimes encourage them to eat what they've made themselves.

Bernadette - posted on 03/27/2012




nowhere does she say that she's sending the kid to bed without dinner as a punishment. She says that she offers food, the kid refuses to eat it (even with alternate options) before bedtime, so the kid ends up going to bed without having eaten. You can't force a child to eat, so if she's refused to eat any of the food offered by bedtime, what else are you supposed to do? You can't really keep her up all night in case she eventually decides to eat. Then she's going to be sleep deprived, and still may refuse to eat anyway. So if she's refusing it, she's old enough to know the consequences. If she's going to bed hungry, she's eventually going to realise that she needs to eat the food that's offered if she wants a full belly.


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Audra - posted on 04/16/2012




I expect my 3-year-old son to eat until he's full, and to eat what the family is eating for dinner unless there is something leftover in the fridge that he'd rather eat. He can opt not to eat if he's not hungry, but if he gets hungry later, I still offer him what we had for dinner. The root of the problem doesn't seem to be the food choice, but getting what she wants from you. If she were mine, I'd let her know each time she fussed that fussing doesn't get her what she wants from me. In fact, I'd let her fuss (as long as she was doing it alone, in her own space) and tell her to come and see me when she'd calmed down. Then, I'd give her a hug in exchange for an apology and then we'd talk. If she requests something and you make it for her, that should be it. If she refuses to eat it, wrap it up and save it for her. If she throws it on the ground, make it again the next time she's hungry. She might just be testing you/pushing you in an attempt to get you to break, since her mom might be playing 'good cop' and letting her have whatever she wants. Be consistent, and enforce natural consequences. Time-out won't always be appropriate for the situation. If she throws food on the floor, she cleans it up (for example). Good luck ♥

Cyndel - posted on 04/13/2012




We often give a choice before we fix a meal, but if after it is fixed or beyond the point of no return in the process of making the meal and they change their mind its too late. If he says he doesn't want to eat it, I tell him he doesn't have to but he has to sit with us until we are all done then he can leave the table usually he will start eating, if not I cover his plate and put it in the microwave until bed, if at anytime he says he is hungry I only offer the meal he refused to eat. I have a friend who did this with their oh so stubborn child with a meal that the child had enjoyed and happily eaten in the past...The child refused to eat it for nearly 24 hours, they did not pressure or shame, simply every time he said he was hungry they would offer the meal and he would walk off. He finally ate it without being asked. I can't remember why he refused but he was always an incredibly stubborn kid who took a long time to realize that daddy could out wait him every time.

She won't starve herself sick over chicken and veggies, esp if it is a meal she usually enjoys. stop giving in and she'll learn. giving her the peanut butter was giving in, she won't starve during the night.

Karla - posted on 04/06/2012




Is this your step-daughter? There may be adjustment issues from going from one home to another.

You are creating a power struggle and you need a better way.

If there are no food allergies and no illness then you don’t need to be making separate meals.

First, let her know the rules. You will make food for supper and she can eat it or not; you will not make more food.

Then follow through and don’t make more food for her. If she pitches a fit, tell her it’s her choice she can eat or not eat. If she chooses not to eat, put her food in the refrigerator so if she’s hungry later she can eat. If YOU choose to, you can tell her she is welcome to make her own supper; possibilities for a 6 y.o. are pb&j sandwich, a bowl of cereal, some fruit or fresh vegetables, yogurt or cottage cheese, a breakfast bar, etc. – something she can get on her own.

When she says, “I’m not eating that, I want something else.” Just say, “okay you don’t have to eat that.” Then you can either add, “that’s your choice.” Or you can say, “You’re welcome to make your own supper, here are your choices, pb&j or a bowl of cereal.” But don’t make it for her – she eats what you made, nothing, or she makes her own…you don’t make more food for her.

If she screams and has a fit just tell her that is the rule, and let her have her fit. As long as you are consistent she will learn that her fit won’t work. Don’t argue with her, and don’t cave-in to her demands, that just reinforces her behavior.

If she throws food, either give her a broom and dust pan and have her clean it up or have her go to her room.

I personally wouldn’t send her to bed without supper; I don’t think food should be used for discipline, but I also think it should not be part of a power struggle.

Good luck.

Tabitha - posted on 04/02/2012




I only make one meal, they eat it or they don't...their choice. I do try to fix things I know they like but every meal isn't going to make every kid happy. If they don't eat what I've made, they don't get anything else later. If they get hungry later, they're offered the same thing everyone else ate for dinner. If they go to bed without dinner, they won't starve, they might be hungrier in the morning but that's fine. I tell them, there are kids in our county and other countries that go days without a decent meal so they need to think about that when they turn their nose up at a perfectly good and healthy meal.

Nataschia - posted on 03/26/2012




A child should never be made to feel hungry as a punishment a job as a parent is to make sure they're well fed they know their bodies and and if they're hungry they'll eat if not when should be up to them

Nataschia - posted on 03/26/2012




First why would you send a kid to bed for not eating growing kids get hunger and picky strikes put it in the fridge for tomorrow second I feel Incredibly bad when I'm making supper and my kids fall asleep until morning I feel I should wake them they're toddlers but they don't nap during the day and they wake up at like 3 or 4 we offer a small snack and something to drink we don't have set eating times they get what they want out of our pantry and we give it to them if they eat it fine if not save it kids are active antsy and cant sit still and are preoccupied with fun things I think that's an unacceptable punishment personally

[deleted account]

Sally I agree that this situation may be somewhat chaotic, but it's purely speculation, as is whether or not there is a bond. You cannot assume because this mother described the child as a demon there isn't a bond, I am extremely bonded to my children and at times I describe them as monsters etc,personally I'd never use demon because I am religious but to none religious people it's just another word. I do not mean anything when I call my children names like monster, it doesn't mean I love or respect them any less just I am frustrated with them and they are being monsters, thus not behaving as expected. You are inferring an awful lot from the use of one word.

The op states the child chose chicken and rice, so she has her control there, she had her choice and refused to eat it, which is where natural consequences come into play. The op states they have a tight budget, so they cannot afford to keep making several meals a night because the child changes her mind, natural consequences say the child chose her meal and refused to eat it, so she gets nothing else. It's not punishment.

Bernadette - posted on 03/21/2012




I think if you've offered them food, you've done all you can do. If they choose to reject it, there isn't much you can do about that other than make sure it's available to them if they do want it. I never used to give my daughter the option. I'd give her food, if she didn't eat it I'd go put it away and then I'd offer it to her again in half an hour or so. If she still wouldn't eat it, I'd put it away again and offer her the same thing again later. Once she realised that there weren't going to be any 'better offers', she realised that if she was hungry she'd have to eat it. My sister was the other way with her kids, as soon as they rejected something she'd straight away give them something else so that they wouldn't go to bed hungry. The kids soon learned that if they didn't want something all they had to do was refuse to eat it, and they'd get something she knew they liked instead. They are now 3.5 and 5 years old, and the fussiest kids EVER. My daughter eats most of what is offered. She is nearly 3 and is starting to learn that there are better things out there, so she will try to refuse what she's given but it doesn't work. I'll tell her it's what she's got or nothing, and start to take her dinner away. She will start yelling "I want it, I want it!" and then will eat it. I know that if she doesn't do this, then she just really isn't hungry.

Also, when she was a baby and being introduced to solids I would make up a large batch of food and freeze it in portions. Usually, when she'd try something new, she wouldn't like it and refuse to eat it. She'd get offered the same thing several times in one night and if she didn't eat it, she'd get the same thing the next night (fresh portion though, of course). The tastebuds actually have to sample a new taste a certain number of times (can't rememer how many times, sorry) before it will start to recognise and accept that taste so what a kid (or adult) might not like the first time, they may come to like over time. I guess what they call 'aquired taste'. I also used the same strategy with my son, who just refused to even start on solids. He didn't really eat until he was 8 months old, and I'd just give him something each day to play with and eventually it started to work its way to his mouth. I'd give him the same thing each day (after having tried several things just to see if he like any of it at all with no success) and eventually he started to like it and willingly put it in his mouth. Once he got used to eating that, I changed to something different, but a bit similar. Then when he got used to that, same again until eventually he had tried a broad range of foods. Now he eats everything he is given.

So I'd say you're on the right track, just stick with it and eventually she will learn that she needs to eat what she's given if she wants to eat. She won't let herself starve, and as long as you're offering food that is healthy and nutritious then you're doing your job.

Sally - posted on 03/20/2012




Toni M-

It may surprise you, but I agree with natural consequences. I believe children do have to have experiences in order to grown and learn. Where I will argue with your post in this case is, she has little or no bond with this child. The original poster called the child names, blames everything on the bio mother. There are huge issues here that go way beyond food. Food (aka dinner) is the fallout. Not the cause. The child is searching for some control over her life. She is acting out in the only way she can. We are not talking about a child from a healthy, happy, stable home who has decided to take issue with a meal. We are talking about a child who is screaming for some control, some attention and is exhibiting huge amounts of resentment. In these types of struggles, a punitive punishment is only going to make it worse. This is a damaged relationship. Every post is addressing the symptom, not the root cause. Food is not the real issue here. There is a much bigger picture. In my opinion, Dinner is this childs last straw of the day. The melting down point where she just can't handle anymore. I am willing to bet, she is in a highly chaotic environment or a state of transition. She has little say on her day, on which house she is at when,ect.... Her subconscious mind is grasping for control, and along comes dinner. Boom. Meltdown. Every person needs to feel some sort of control in their daily life, if they don't, they grab it where they can. And food is at the top of the list. And in a child, they often don't even know why they are doing it. So a punishment of no food, increases the stress, causes the bood sugar to drop which make the child even less reasonable and on the cycle goes. A hungry child doesn't sleep well, a non rested child is easily frustrated, an easily frustrated child lashes out and so on it goes. This policy of going to bed hungry is never going to work here. Doomed to fail. Poor kid.

Jonelle - posted on 03/19/2012




In addition to consistancy (which will feel like the longest week or two of your life-but worth it), try getting her in the kitchen. My kids love Vivi

Try changing the pace from struggle to something fun with Fridays with Vivi and the Giggle will help you turn food into a positive experience where you are bonding rather than fighting over food. It's worth a shot!

Read about all the cool features on this site at:

There are also some great tips on the parent blog.

[deleted account]

Sally if you have provided a plate of food with at least one portion you know they like and your child refuses to eat anything it is a natural consequence to go to bed without anything else being offered, the child has a choice over whether they eat or not, this especially goes if they asked for the specific food in the first place. Or do you suggest pandering to their ever changing whims and wasting food, or only giving them food they will eat, but what if that food is chocolate or biscuits? There are children that would only eat 'nice' foods if they could! Nobodies saying to starve children but if you have provided adequate choices one night here and there won't harm them! It won't affect your bond with your child!

Natural consequences are great learning tools because it shows the child their actions have a consequence, if they choose not to eat the food they ask for they will get hungry between meals. That's not bullying that's nature!

Sally - posted on 03/19/2012




I cannot imagine sending a child to bed without dinner would go any good. It seems like it would increase the rebellion, the resentment and increase the food issue. Seems when you resort to this type of power struggle, you are going to lose. You have lost a teachable moment. You have even further damaged the bond, if there is one. Doesn't sound like there is much of a bond. Seems like an antiquated technique. I would never do it. A rational, calm, ADULT should be able to figure out a better plan rather than resorting to name calling (demon) and bullying to get their way. When you force a child to bed & withhold food, you are resorting to bullying. As the saying goes, "might does not make right". Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

Rebecca - posted on 03/18/2012




we willo send our kids to bed without tea if they refuse it, then they have to have it for breakfast the next day. they still refuse they get a small snack during the morning so to make sure they dont starve but then they get it again for lunch. It seems harsh but it works. Only had to do it twice and never had an issue since

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 03/18/2012




In my home what is set at the table for supper is what is to be eaten. If they don't want it, they sit there until everyone is done. If they still dn't eat it, they get nothing else. I will put their supper aside, if they are hungry later, they get their supper offered to them. If they still will not eat it and it is bedtime, then bed it is.

If they know you will cater to them and make something else for them, they will push your buttoms until you give in. No child is going to starve because they didn't eat their supper. If they are hungry enough, they will eat it. If not and they are hungry enough later, they will eat it. Otherwise, they are not hungry enough (starving) and bedtime it is. They will soon learn you are not playing games. You will not give in. It is what you said and if they don't like it they lose, not you. ;)

If they throw it on the floor, well that's it then. They don't have anything later either. Make sure to explain to her before hand, such as when you first put the food down, that if it goes anywhere but in her mouth, she will be going without until morning. I guarentee, one or two times of you sticking to your guns with this, she will quickly get the picture.

If she is spoiled at her mother's that doesn't matter. She needs to know it will not be that way at your place. End of story.

My daughter has severe ADHD. She never ever acted spoiled. She was not able to remain attentive for longer than a minute. She is now 13.5 and she is a very good girl.

You have to have boundaries with children and you have to stick to them. The very first time you give in, they won. Children are so very persistent. They will drive you up the wall with their stubborness if you let them. ;)

Good luck... ;)


I should add that keeping in mind even children have adversions to some foods. I know my daughter dislikes rice. I learnt this by her first saying "I do not like rice", I told her everytime, you need to eat it. However, she would cringe and eat it very slowly. Over time I realized it was just rice she always complained about. So, now I don't give it to her. When we have a dish with rice, I simply either give her more veggies or an alternative to the rice. She is happy with that. So, sometimes you do need to improvise but not until it has become the same complaint over and over again and it is in regard to a particular food. We all have different palates, even kids. Although, refusing an entire meal is unacceptable and is a child acting out, rather than really not liking what is served.

Rebekah - posted on 03/17/2012




My kids are all given the same thing for dinner. If they only eat two bites, then they'll eat a big breakfast the next morning. I just make sure that they have at least one thing that they typically enjoy... so when we have spaghetti (one food my son does NOT like, at all), I make sure to pair it with broccoli (his favorite veggie), and apples/pears (his favorite fruit)

Mary Renee - posted on 03/17/2012




Ok, I'm guessing since you a.) called the child a demon and b.) said "she has a spoiled attitude that she gets from her mother" that this isn't your child, or is maybe your step child.

I really don't think it's appropriate for you to call her terrible and a demon when you're supposed to be someone who loves and nurtures her. Maybe she senses this attitude and it plays into the tantrums.

But no. I don't think it's bad to send a kid to bed without supper every once in a while, after you've offered them food. As long as it's not every day, or several days in a row. But not a day here or there. She'll eat tomorrow. No biggie.

Amanda - posted on 03/16/2012




Your first mistake was giving this child any choice on food, after you already made dinner. Your second mistake is the lack of respect for this child (which was clearly showed when you called her a demon), get your feelings together and stop thinking about your step child like this. Children are not stupid, they know when they are wanted or not (even if you dont say these things to her face, your tude prob does show her these things). Your third mistake is blaming her mother, again children are not stupid and know when one parent hates or recents the other parent. Children are very good at adjusting with different rules at different parents homes, so her mother allowing her to do whatever she wants has no reflection in your home.

Minna - posted on 03/14/2012




Nope. Serve what you want . If my kids don't want what i cook, I give them the peanut- butter ,apple and milk [they can get it themselves] option or nothing. Dinner isn't only about the food, so don't let her make it an issue. Minna

Sally - posted on 03/12/2012




First, never refer to your child step or biological as a demon or terrible. She doesn't deserve that. A child who is acting out like that most likely is lacking control in her life. She has picked a place she can control 100%. You cannot force her to eat. She need to feel some control over her life. Is she getting bounced around a lot? Going from home to home? Is there an issue at school? Have you even looked into the possiblity of her being bullied? Is there a new sibling? A child needs to feel like they have some say in their world. Sounds to me like she is at a breaking point. This isn't a food issue, it much more than that. She needs love & acceptance not to be called a demon or spoiled. You need to take a step back. Look at the bigger picture. And be kind to her.

By losing it and sending her to bed without food, she will feel even more resentment, more anger & more confusion.

Ashley - posted on 03/11/2012




You did exacly what you should have you can not refuse feeding your children but you gave her two options, the end, she obvusly wasent hungry how is she now that you sent her to bed. I would never cater around my children sory not happening if i dd that one child would only eat meat and the other one would only eat fruit thats just redicules. I make real dinners and expect them to eat it and generaly there awsome my son now loves sushi which i never even expected him to eat i always made him stir fry but now he damands rolls lol. Anyway heres some help when eating dont talk about eating talk about anything but school activities anything ignore any coments she makes for now and continue talking about whatever, if she says she dosent want to eat say fine and get her to sit with your family but dont give her a plate( did this a couple times with mine works like a charm as soon as they think that you dont care they want to eat lol. Good luck

Julie - posted on 03/11/2012




NEVER take away a child's basic needs from them...

I've sen LOVE cures hundreds of ills and punishment only guarantees a change in behavior - not attitudes, right?

This child is crying for genuine love and attention and control. That tells us that somehting in her life is really out of control -

How can we punish a child when they are simply that - a child? Parents have got to be the wiser ones, right?

Make a list of what she likes ... and then plan meals around her likes.. and BE SURE to spend time with her, reading to her, watching t.v. sitting next to her, etc., and loving touches bring more healing that isolation and punishment - ♥

Sharmaine - posted on 03/07/2012




Your biggest mistake was giving her the PB&J I think.. She thinks "well if it worked once it will work again". Anyway if she doesnt want what you served then let her go but when she decided later she is hungry give her that meal explain to her thats all she gets! This is NOT BK

Hannah - posted on 03/05/2012




You need to put your foot down, my mother used to let my brother eat whatever he wanted and all he ate was crisps and pizza. He was a skinny teen but he is big as an adult, he still eats badly. My son is also a pain when it comes to eating, I try and bribe him by offering a tasty dessert if he makes a good effort with his main course, this often works well.

Jenna - posted on 03/05/2012




No, I don't think it's bad. Going one night without dinner won't kill her. It might make her very uncomfortable, which hopefully will teach her to eat her dinner next time. And sometimes kids just aren't really hungry, in which case, it won't hurt her at all.

Katherine - posted on 03/02/2012




I tell my daughter this is not Burger King you can't have it your way! You aether eat with I made you or you simply don't eat. If she refuses to eat I wrap up the plate and put it in the fridge and if she tells me shes hungry later that's the only option she gets. Normally she caves and eats whats been made for her i think she has only gone to bed with out dinner once.

Kel-Cie - posted on 02/26/2012




Slightly concerned that you think your 6 year old is terrible and a demon and I hope your joking because you are at your wits end. I mean my 3 boys have "days" where they are rotton for sure but I would never refer them as consistently terrible or demonic. In my city my local Family Services has classes for parents to help them deal with food issues regarding their children (from pickiness to temper tantrums) and in helping parents deal with stressful situations and difficult children. Even if they don't help you right away these groups can at least put you in touch with parents dealing with the same thing, they even have an online support group so maybe you could look into that. The calmer and unphased by the reaction you are the better the situation will be, try to remember that you are the adult and can 'rise above' the anger and frusrartion. In the mean time, I suppose the ocassional missed dinner wouldn't hurt but the way you make it seem is that it is every night which would def be a problem. At 6 she should be able to understand some "rules", most children work better when they are consistent so a good way to do this is by having them written down and pinned somewhere easy. They could be "if I don't eat my dinner I will go hungry until breakfast" (though I ALWAYS offer my boys a peice of fruit before bed, 12 hours is a long time to go when your stomach is the size of your fist) "I will get 1 warning about my negative behaviour and then I will get a time out for 6 minutes" (although at 6 I think it could be a bit longer without hurting anyone, giving both people time to refresh themselves) " I will be rewarded for positive behaviour with.." ( We do a sticker chart, if you get 10 stickers in a row we get to go to the dollar store for a $2 toy, by the sounds of it though you might need to start with smaller time periods, like maybe positive behavior for 1 hour gets a stickers, and being good during meal time gets a sticker etc etc)

Good luck

Jennifer - posted on 02/22/2012




With 6 kids, we had issues, too. Many times one or another of my kids went to bed without eating! My younger son was the WORST! Still is. When me and his dad moved in together, they lived on snickers, fish sticks, and frozen pizza. And my son ate sugar. By the spoonful! His breakfast was usually 'sugar sandwiches'- two peices of bread spread with butter and covered with sugar. His mom taught him how to make it so he would not wake her up in the morning!! He did not want to eat anything I made. My sweet little boy with a huge crush, turned into a raging demon seed at meal time! I tried making things he liked, but he had never had home cooked food before, so everything I made was weird to him. I finally put my foot down. He had to take a bite of everything on his plate, or went straight to bed, no dessert. It seemed like forever, and I can't tell you how many meals he missed, but he came around. He didn't starve. I knew I had won when I heard him tell a friend how good a cook I was. We still fight about food. Now that he makes his own money, he eats McD's 2 times a day, but he's also 16 now, and I've lost some control. At least he knows what good, healthy food is!

Deborah - posted on 02/21/2012




My daughter is similar...she doesn't throw fits about dinner, but it's pretty common for her to refuse to eat. I try my best to add things I know she likes to dinner so I know she will eat at least SOMETHING.

Picking dinner, however, and deciding not to eat it is definitely unacceptable. I know how you feel, I've sent my daughter to bed without dinner before (although she usually gets something little, a cheese or a ham sandwich if she says she is hungry and she asks).

My daughter's obsession is with sweets. The other day she told me she wanted a 'honey sandwich', which she's never had, and I gave her peanut butter instead. she dropped it on the floor (intentionally) with an 'oopsie!" and she was punished for it. i didn't give her anything afterward. She didn't eat much for dinner,which is why she got the sandwich, but after wasting food like that, I'd had it and she went without.

The only thing I can recommend is to keep up with what you are doing. Don't give in, or give her something else AT ALL, unless you know it's something she doesn't like (my daughter doesn't like hamburger, for instance). That's the only time my kids will get something else,and it's usually hot dogs in exchange for the main course. If she doesn't eat enough, no dessert and the like. When we have hamburger helper, we'll pick out the big chunks of meat and give my daughter extra noodles, or more of whatever side dishes we have.

Since you're in a multiple-household situation, she is going to have to learn the rules are different with dad rather than with mom. Don't change the rules for her, because that is exactly what her natural mother has done,which is encouraging her behavior.

My fiance's little brother lives with us, and his daughter(she's 5, 6 in April) visits about every other weekend. It's taken about 9 months, but now she uses manners when she asks for things when she is here. When she first came I wouldn't give her snacks because she wouldn't ask politely. I would give them to my two kids (who use their manners), but when she got demanding, I wouldn't give them to her at all. I let her watch my kids get what they wanted, and that set it in pretty quickly. I actually made her cry a few times because she was denied a snack or a treat because of her behavior. I felt bad, but knew I had to 'stick to my guns'. Her dad tried to give in a few times but I told him she wasn't welcome to my pudding/cookies/ice cream because she couldn't ask nicely (we buy the groceries, so technically it's my food).

Whereas when she first started coming for visits she wouldn't at all, it progressed to 'by the end of the visit', and now it's pretty consistent when she says "please' and "thank you" and 'you're welcome'.

The only thing I can tell you is to keep it up. The same minute she starts to over-react, control it. The first time she raises her voice, send her away from the table and tell her "you can come back when you are ready to talk like a normal person instead of yelling" Wait until she calms down, and explain it to her. "You may get away with that when you're with your mom, but the rules are different here. Kicking and screaming is not going to get you what you want. It's going to get you the opposite." Enlist a zero-tolerance policy.

I think 6 might be a bit old for this, but I play 'games' with my daughter. When we have spaghetti, for instance, I look at her playfully and tell her "You better not slurp that noodle!" and afterward she does exactly that... after that it's "I"m gonna beat you!" and I slurp up a noodle, and she tries to beat me. I make the meal more 'fun', which encourages her to eat. So maybe that could be a way to get her to eat dinner, rather than making it a power struggle.

[deleted account]

Oh yeah, I agree w/ that point entirely... If she asked for the chicken... I wouldn't have made anything else either.

Sarah - posted on 02/20/2012




I think it's the exact same thing Teresa. She didn't want to eat her meal so the OP gave in to her temper tantrum and made her something else she thought she would eat. Just because she ended up not eating it doesn't mean she didn't back down by giving her something else. I think the point here is that this young child is acting this way because it works for her, whether at her Mom's house or her Dad's. Kids are pretty quick to learn that if a temper tantrum works to get their way that they'll continue to do it. It's not parent's jobs to cater to their child's every whim, it's their job to teach them to accept and appreciate what they do have.

Starfish - posted on 02/20/2012




My kids have ended up missing meals due to behaviour and they're not sick or dying or anything ridiculous from it.

In my house, you get what you get, or you're free to leave the table. There's no other options, there's no catering to anyone's whims, or anything else silly like that. I take preferences into account when I make something, so there's no reason for them to not eat perfectly good food.

In the case of a child that old throwing temper tantrums or throwing food on the floor, I'd make it *real* clear that that sort of behaviour is grounds for immediate removal from the dinner table, and she can wait till next meal to eat.

Sooner or later, that kid WILL be hungry enough to act like a decent human being and eat what's been given.

You have to be firm. Regardless of what her mother does, if you stick with it, she'll know that the rules in your house are non-negotiable.

[deleted account]

Not exactly cuz remember... the kid didn't want the pb&j either, so she didn't get what she wanted. :) She just got another choice... neither of which she wanted.

Proud - posted on 02/20/2012




Thanks Toni M :)

OP: You say that she gets her spoiled attitude from her mom who gives in and lets her have what she wants.

No offense but didn't you kind of do the same thing?

Sarah - posted on 02/20/2012




Our 18m old and 3 1/2 year old frequently go to bed without dinner. I worked with a dietician who told me that a parents responsibilities are to provide healthy meals in a non-stressful environment at regular times. The child's choice is to pick how much and what they eat. We aren't a restaurant and if they don't eat whats put in front of them they both know that's their choice to go hungry. They won't starve before morning. I think part of your mistake is in then making her something else cause she's learning her fits will work to get her way. Parenthood is hard, but you have to stand your ground. She needs to learn she's not in control (which it sound like she has been). Try taking privileges away (TV, games, etc.). It usually works well with kids that age.

[deleted account]

Oh and shyla is right you need to mean what you say, if you tell her she has to eat the chicken and she doesn't do not give her anything else, it's a pain in the short term but the benefits are worth it in the long term, if you say you must eat your chicken, she doesn't and you give her a pbj sandwich you are teaching her that tantrums work.

[deleted account]

My 2yo son has gone to bed without eating his dinner a few times, if he asks for something then doesn't eat it he will not be getting anything else. If I serve up something he's not had before I expect him to try it before deciding he doesn't want it but if he try's it and doesn't like it I will serve up something basic like crumpets or toast.

I generally make a meal and leave it on the table until either he eats it, the next meal replaces it, or it's bedtime. But I did start serving up his uneaten lunch for dinner because I was fed up with him not eating his lunch, he now eats his lunch.

Becky - posted on 02/20/2012




My kids are given different options for breakfast and lunch, as I don't mind making a few small things like that. When it comes to dinner, however, there is one thing and one thing only and that is what they eat. If I can tell they are really hungry later, they eat what was for dinner, or they can have a small healthy snack. I will make a couple of exceptions when I know I'm making something for my husband and I that the kids don't like. There's a difference between, "I'm not eating that" and "I really don't like that."

Samantha - posted on 02/19/2012




You are the adult, and she is the child. She doesn't decide the rules, you do. You gave her a choice, and she refused to eat it...sometimes kids have funny reasons like it's not yellow rice or the chicken is not the same shape she had before, but if she refuses to try it she does not get another choice!

You already made another choice, which I would not have done, but even then she still refused, so yes, she should definitely get nothing.

Definitely have a talk with the mother.....even when I worked in a preschool, we would regularly talk with the parents just to make sure everyone was on the same page so the rules were consistent, and especially if we had a kid with behavior problems like hitting, tantrums, or not eating food that was served. Sometimes we found that children who didn't eat lunch were still given sweets and cakes by their parents a few hours later, or that kids who were having tantrums were expecting a little brother or sister at home, etc. Everyone has to cooperate and keep each other informed when a child is concerned.

However keep in mind not to attack or criticize, just keep the focus on the child and her behavior, and what is best for her.

Janice - posted on 02/18/2012




If a child refuses to eat, then that is their choice. Missing one meal will not hurt her and if she gets hungry she will eat what has been made. Be consistent and hopefully you will see some progress. Good luck!

Sally - posted on 02/17/2012




Im with sarah on this , your options are eat it or go without unless its something they have not eaten before. My son is 15 and without a doubt he will get hungry but he knows if i throw his meal away thats it until breakfast. I have always been the same and none of my kids have suffered. So don't worry ,you are not harming her.

It is going to be hard if her mom has different rules had this with dad but let my son know that these are the rules here. In a very long winded way i guess im trying to say , stick to your guns.

[deleted account]

Sending her to bed without dinner will not hurt her. She may get hungry and have a hard time sleeping that night, but it will not do any major harm to her overall health, and after a few tries, she'll learn to eat what you cook or go hungry.

My son often goes to bed without dinner--he knows his options, it's just that some nights he chooses not to eat. He does not pitch a fit because he knows it is not going to change the options.

[deleted account]

If she asks for it... that's what she eats. If she throws it on the floor... make sure there's no visible dirt or hair on it and she can eat it when she's hungry.

I am very lax w/ our food around here. My kids can pretty much eat what they want (healthy options) most of the time, but if you actually ask for something and then don't eat it... that's what you get until it's gone.

I do have to say that if what you mention of her mother is true.... it's going to be extremely difficult to develop some consistency w/ the child, but consistency is what she needs. Firm, calm, and consistent discipline. Maybe check out some positive discipline strategies.

Other than that... Good luck!

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