Kids and Food Control


THIS little girl…is making me crazy. Love her. But she’s making me crazy. We’ve been going rounds at meal time. No matter what I serve, she balks. She doesn’t want to eat it. She doesn’t like it. It’s too spicy (it’s not!). It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It doesn’t want to stay on her fork. It “accidentally” falls on the floor. Then she cries. And puts her head down on the table…in her food. So then she gets spaghetti sauce all in her hair. And that makes her cry harder. Sigh. Somebody get me a straight jacket.

I tell her if she’s going to cry, she has to go to her room so she doesn’t ruin dinner for the rest of us. She says, “Fine! I go to my room!” She goes. And she stays there – by choice. She keeps crying – really loudly…so we can still hear her in the kitchen. ALL drama – that girl. She doesn’t even care if she MISSES DINNER. So, I’m not quite sure she’s even my child. But I do know that the go-to-your-room strategy has totally backfired. I don’t even have to tell her. She just disses my food, starts crying, and says she’s going to her room.This is the pattern now. Do see what’s happening here? Who’s got the upper hand in this situation? It certainly isn’t me! Everything is on her terms. 

This is not about food. This is about control. She’s three. Her job is to test boundaries. Mama’s gonna show her the boundaries.

See, I got lazy. By the time I make dinner and wrassle all the kids to the table and know I have dishes and homework and baths still on the evening docket, I just want to sit down for a few minutes and eat the dinner I prepared. Sans the drama. I don’t want to deal. If she wants to go to her room, fine. Two out of three rugrats are doing what they’re supposed to do. Isn’t that enough?

It is. For one meal. Or a few meals. But that record isn’t going to cut it for every meal. I need the whole team on the field – participating and doing their jobs. Including me. Which involves teaching sister how to eat and behave at the dinner table.

So, this morning. Breakfast. Crying in her eggs as usual. I’ve had it. It’s go time. Or, actually, it’s not go time. It’s:
You’re-not-going-anywhere-time until you eat some of those eggs. You will sit there all day  (I’m flashing a Mommie Dearest moment as I say this). I hope you don’t have to. Because I would love to take you on a walk and let you watch some Doc McStuffins. But if you’d rather sit there and cry, that’s fine too. Your choice.

Then the waterworks began. I left the room. She sat at the kitchen table and cried and cried and cried. I went upstairs to get dressed. Started some laundry (still crying). Checked some emails. Went back in to check on her (still crying). Loaded the dishwasher. Left the room again. Ordered some stuff on Amazon (still crying). Watered the plants. Put some laundry away. And then…..silence. I walked in to the kitchen and she said, “When I’m done with my eggs, can I get dressed and watch Doc McStuffins?”

All sweet and compliant like the last 30 minutes hadn’t happened. But whatevs. Of course you can sweetie. 

Believe me, I know this is not the last time we’ll run this little scenario. I’m sure it will be like the movie Groundhog Day – the same thing over and over – for several more meals. But that’s ok. The first time is the hardest. Making the decision to turn it around and then do it – that’s the hard part. That’s behind us. On to the next mommy challenge……

Do you have meal time power struggles with your kids? I’d love to hear how you handle it.



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