It's a battle every meal to get my 4 year old to eat anything what can I do?

Colette - posted on 04/04/2011 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My 4 year old daughter says she doesn't like almost every type of food I put in front of her. It could be anything even if she loved it the day before. I really do not believe in making her sit at the table until she eats. My step daughters do not give us any problem at all. My husband and I feel bad every time she doesn't eat and doesn't get a snack but we know that she's brought it on herself. I know it's a control thing but how do I get it to stop?

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Don't battle with her. If she doesn't want to eat it, don't make her, but don't give her anything else until the next meal time either.
If she sees that not eating is a way to exert control over you, she will use it. If you do not let her see that it upsets you, she will eventually move on to healthier ways to exert control. It is good for her to have control over certain situations, but using food for control can lead to very unhealthy habits for her. Also try giving her some limited choices in what she eats--don't let her eat what ever she wants--that is giving control completely over to her, but let her choose from 2 or 3 choices, so that you are sharing control of her actions.

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Kadi - posted on 04/05/2011

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My son is like this and his doctor thinks he has Sensory Processing Disorder and low muscle tone in his mouth (he drooled excessively until he was 3+ years old). Don't assume it's her fault, if you are are really concerned, check with her doctor. I had so many people lecture me on how they got their kids to eat without knowing the whole story.

Does she gag or vomit at new foods?

Stephanie - posted on 04/05/2011

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When she gets hungry she will eat... until then stick to your guns and tell her she can eat it or do without... I was a very picky child yet I didn't starve. My own children were raised the same way... I did make a point not to fix things they honestly hated but otherwise they did without if they were being controlling.

Colette - posted on 04/05/2011

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Thanks for everyone's advice. It is very difficult especially since my husband and I have different opinions on the issue. My step daughters eat almost everything and he gets upset that my daughter does not without a fit. I am in agreement with him that she will eat what we put in front of her because it is not fair to make several different meals because she wants to be controlling. We have three kids and we try to make it fair and equal but she's the only one that does this but she needs to know that she isn't getting a special meal because she doesn't want what we offer. I think I'm going to try Jane's suggestion because of the fact we have more than one child. Thank you for everyone's input!!

Candy - posted on 04/05/2011

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All of this here is Great advice. I know how you feel. It is hard to let your little one go without food even if it is her chooce. I wish you luck and hope you grow stronge in your sprit and emotions because for me this was a hard battle and I still havnt won it.

Jane - posted on 04/04/2011

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our 1st child pulls the control thing too. luckily, one day, i saw a Nanny episode. she explained to the boy that it was meal time, time to eat. if he wasn't eating she told him he had to have a bite in his mouth by the time she counted to five. if not, timeout. it's mealtime, this is when we eat the food that is put in front of us. i do this now. it works great. also, limit the meal time to 20 minutes (i set my oven timer), after that, clear the table and do it again at the next meal. my daughter's excuse is that she doesn't like the food. but once gets eating, she does like it. i also have a rule that she needs to take 3 bites before she can tell me she genuinely doesn't like it and wants to not eat. i do this b/c i know it's a control issue and once she eats it, she's going to like it AND b/c she needs to be polite at anyone's house. she can't go to her grandparents or a friend's house or a restaurant and not be eqipped w/good manners and insult anyone by not eating.
there are very few things they can control in their little worlds, eating, sleeping and pee/pooping. so these are usually battles we deal with. this is something i have to keep on top of b/c or 2nd child is a monkey-see/monkey-do so i don't want a house of non-eaters.
good luck.

Ashleigh Jade - posted on 04/04/2011

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Ask her what she wants. Offer her a range of things.
Also relax and dont stress. She will eat if shes hungry and the more you stress, the more she will feel that.
If you are concerned also speak to your doctor.

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