|This is how I imagine dinner time should be.|
But what do you do when no one enjoys it? My kid has turned dinner time into this drama-filled temper tantrum and by the end of it, her dinner is not eaten and Ben and I are the ones flailing on the floor kicking and screaming.
Lila does not like to eat. At least not actual food. I refuse to call her a picky eater because it doesn't really matter if we serve her the one food she is willing to eat this week (which is usually either mac and cheese or chicken nuggets) she still refuses it. She's more like a non-eater. Not that she isn't hungry. As soon as dinner is cleared from the table she asks for ice cream or cake or cookies and cries because she's "starving". We offer to heat up her chicken nuggets or mac and cheese and she cries and goes to bed hungry. We don't give in. But for some reason she STILL doesn't get that eating crap like ice cream and gummy fruit snacks are not acceptable dinner time foods.
|This is what I actually see at dinner time.|
And this is almost entirely a dinner time problem, when we are all sitting down at the table. At lunch time, when it's just her and I, she usually eats with no problem (although she isn't a big eater and has never finished an entire meal) and at breakfast, when she is usually eating alone, it is no problem at all. It's as if she is completely against it, which I don't understand because this is what we have always done, and it's always been a problem for her.
In addition to refusing to eat and generally being totally bitchy about it, she also has to go to the bathroom as soon as the food is set on the table and has hundreds of excuses to get up every 45 seconds. Even when we order pizza and eat in front of the TV, something about sitting together with us at dinner time causes her to not be able to sit still or concentrate on the task at hand, even though when there's no food in front of her she can sit catatonic for an hour and a half watching Alvin and the Chipmunks.
For me, not having dinner together isn't an option. This is important to me. My parents made every effort to have dinner at the table whenever they could and as an adult I really appreciate those times where no one was too busy or preoccupied with work and we got to just sit and focus on chatting.
There is one train of thought that says that you should never force your kid to eat and should just let them do what they want and eat when and what they want and they will come around. But honestly, I don't believe that we should work around her and her whims. She's FOUR. If it were up to her she'd want nothing but Lucky Charms and Popsicles and would eat dinner just after brushing her teeth, hearing a story and turning out the light at bedtime. She refuses to "snack" when I just leave decent foods like carrot sticks out for her to nibble on and seems to only want to eat something when I am in the middle of a task that I cannot drop to prepare something for her.
There is the other faction that says that the eating habits they learn early such as eating a variety of foods (my kid doesn't) and viewing eating in a healthy way (she obviously finds it stressful) will be carried on for life. If this is the case, my kid is going to be either a "food is comfort" over eater or processed food junky. Perhaps she will develop an eating disorder since her entire goal in life seems to be to use what little control she has to refuse to put healthy food into her mouth.
What do you guys think. Should I just stop with the family dinner times?
I aim for some kind of middle ground and it just isn't working. I fear that my kid is going to have some serious food issues if I don't get this under control.