Toddler dinner time fix

We always sit down as a family to dinner, and lately it had been a feared time by all. My child, a very good eater since he first started solids, became a terrible two-year old. He would get excited about dinner, willingly go into his chair, and then lash out at the meal put in front of him. Throwing utensils, pushing plates and bowls on the floor. Even his go to favourites were rejected. We tried letting him pick what to eat, we tried telling him what to eat. We tried offering options, we tried only one thing at a time. We tried letting him help make his food, that didn’t work either. Was this him being two? Or was there something else going on. My husband wondered if it was too late in the day (we eat around 6:30 when he’s home from work, and bedtime is 8), but he wouldn’t eat dinner at his grandparents either and that is always an earlier meal. It went on for quite a few weeks. It was awful. We knew he was hungry. We knew he liked the meal. What on earth was going on?!

Than the twitters came through for me. I was complaining about his meal time behaviour, and I tweeted with @YourGreenBaby back and forth about what we were doing right and wrong, and than she said:

“Do you have a dinner time rhythm?”

At first I thought, “a what?!” And than she sent me this link to her blog. I read through the post and it hit me. OF COURSE! We certainly did not have a rhythm, we used to, but during the terrible dinner weeks, we had lost our rhythm.  My son will be playing with his toys or watching TV right before my husband gets home. Once Daddy is through that door, craziness ensues. They play. They wrestle. They run around upstairs. And than we suddenly expect him to sit still and eat his dinner?! Yeah right! I used to get him to help set the table, to calm things down a bit, plus the kid loves to help me doing anything. I had stopped asking him to help me. I don’t know why, or when it happened, it just stopped. So for the past several nights I have been getting him to help set the table again. He gets involved, he feels like he is helping prepare the meal, and it calms him down. Every single night that I have done this, he has sat nicely and ate his dinner. He might not eat it all, but he tries everything (that’s our house rule, you gotta at least try it) and he has been in a much better mood and had much better manners. Unbelievable!

Is this the end to our terrible dinners? I hope so.

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5 comments

  1. Yes, dinner is a balancing act. But I don’t typically have trouble getting a well-rounded meal on the table: Two general dinner rules around here are that everyone eats the same entree and everyone gets a vegetable. And because Sam is too young to have any evening events and we limit Henry to one activity at a time, we have no trouble sitting down for dinner together most nights of the week.

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  2. Yay, so happy getting back to your dinner time rhythm has helped with the stress. It is amazing to me what a little bit of rhythm can do to help our little ones(and us adults) enjoy life a bit more.

    Thanks so much for sharing my post, appreciate it.

    Kim

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  3. Oh, I’m going to have to try that with my daughter! The time right before dinner is always hectic for us anyway. Anything I can do to get her into a routine would be such a help!

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  4. Dont you just love when they stop eating their favorite foods? We too have this problem. We used to just feed him before we all sat down to eat, and I think he liked that. Lately weve been all sitting at the table and I think he gets too distracted to eat. (my son is 20 months). So, last night my husband and I sat on the couch to eat and we pushed his highchair next to us. We werent staring right at him, and he ate everything. I dont really like that, Id like to eat at the table as a family. But for right now, this will have to do!

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    1. Sometimes you do just have to give in. But make sure it’s just a short term thing, keep trying to reintroduce the family meal again. Good luck, toddlers can be so tricky!

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