Negotiations

I really refuse to argue with the kids about food. We hit a stretch for a bit when the kids were constantly sick that we were pretty much making "nuggets and smiles" on demand for Caroline each night. She isn't into spices so much and if anything has a hint of well doneness by way of char of any kind, even grill marks, she will not touch it. She doesn't want her food to touch other foods and oh, the pickiness.

We don't argue about food. I don't force bites, I don't punish for not eating. I'm just not that kind of parent. I don't want meal time to be a battle of wills and to be perfectly honest, I would like to enjoy a meal for even fivev full minutes without refilling  a cup, cutting more meat, collecting a fork off the floor, or listening to someone whine about the plate I have lovingly prepared for her.

I picked up this book last week at BJ's. I immediately launched us into slow cooker overload. Since I purchased it we have made three of the meals and they have all been amazing. (Huli Huli Chicken, Sausage Lasagna (OMG!), and tonight we did Barbecued Drumsticks. I felt like a super star. Tonight is TUESDAY. This meal was so easy to prep, so easy to complete and it looked like I had slaved away creating supper. The youngest member of the McFam could not get enough. He dove right into his chicken, ate baked beans off his spoon, and tore into his cornbread muffin. This meal was SO kid friendly and yet there sat his sister, ignoring her plate.

We use clear language. We emphasize choice. We reinforce that choosing not to eat dinner means there will be no snacks, no extra drinks. "THIS IS DINNER." Inevitably Caroline starts whining or crying and that is completely opposite the peaceful family dinner we had in mind. This leads to bargaining and negotiations that we do not want to have. She knows that the whining will usually get her to a "if you eat this portion, you can get your smile/popsicle" and boy, does that girl know how to work it. I wouldn't willingly stuff my pie hole either if I knew I could complain and get a lighter option.

Steve and I agree. We are NOT negotiating about food, but you almost cannot help yourself when she starts the whining train up because it seems like she wants to eat, but the plate is too overwhelming. I am careful about portioning out non-overwhelming amounts. I ask her opinion about how she wants it served. We let her choose her plate and her beverage of choice. You might say, just give her the nuggets, but most nights we draw battle lines over those stupid nuggets too. Tonight we drew a new line. You don't have to eat, but you also cannot whine about that choice. So off to her room she went, mouth half full of that tender juicy barbecued drumstick.

There were no snacks. No mention of them actually, not a single request.

On nights when she is hungry, Caroline is careful to announce loudly, "look, you're not asking me to eat!" Those nights are increasing in frequency overall, but I am done negotiating dinner. It's time we practice what we preach. I'm looking forward to sitting and chewing a meal in one sitting.

1 comment:

  1. You have described dinner at our house most nights perfectly. I frequently say to Katherine "We're not negotiating here" along with some variation of "don't ask us for a snack later." Eventually, we will get to eat a meal in peace.

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