May 27, 2011 Children and Stress 0 Comments

“I can’t eat any lunch because it will just make me poop more.”

And so my pre-schooler stated his case in 1984. Physiologically, Darion was correct. My challenge was to use HIS logic to further MINE.

“You’re right, Darion, food will make you poop more. But the poop is just the leftover food your body doesn’t use. Some of the food stays inside your body to help you feel healthy, have energy to play and learn and grow. It’s the fuel for your body just like gas is for a car – the car won’t run without it. You won’t have good feelings or behavior if you don’t eat some lunch.

“But Mommy, I already pooped today and I don’t want to ANYMORE! I’m just hungry for my fruit leather anyway.”

I wasn’t surprised at his retort – the meal dilemma was a song-and-dance routine that had been going on for many months. My patience was getting s thin as a worn out, frayed diaper. Enough of lessons in physiology – time to set boundaries and follow through for his own good and my sanity!

“You know that dessert comes after you eat your meal. No meal, no fruit leather. And no more talk. You have until 12:30 to finish your meal. Then you can have desert.”

He glanced at the fruit leather, then at his plate. A plea bargain arose.

“I’ll eat four bites of meal and get four bites of fruit leather.” As Darion refused to relinquish the negotiations, I realized my stomach was tensing and I was losing my own appetite. Time to preserve myself.

“All of your meal or no fruit leather.” My voice was gaining strength to relieve the tension in my stomach. “In twenty minutes I take your plate. No more chances.” I left the fruit leather on the table for him to use as a focusing agent as he very, very slowly chewed bites of his meal.

The mealtime torture stretched through the next twenty minutes until he managed to get down the last bite of meal just as time was up. Of course, the fruit leather inhalation was a pleasure for both of us!

Mealtime Power Trip Tips:
1. Be consistent with approaches. You can’t retract allowances you’ll regret at other meals. (ie. little meal, lots of dessert).
2. My concern always geared up when either child cycled through a period of not liking or wanting much food for a period of time. Such cycles are natural and the overall picture of nutrition is the crucial view. However, at those times of finicky pickiness, I kept fresh fruit and vegies, nuts and seeds available as the only snacks allowed.
3. Stretching out meal stress will harm you. Set standards, know your own limitations. Do not rush children eating – that harms digestion. Be reasonable but firm. And hang in there!

Happy Birthday, Darion! You were a very aware negotiator from the get-go! You’ve always known what you’ve wanted. You were too darn cute with those negotiations….AND stubborn! I’m so happy I got to be the mom who got to tango with your strong willed stances. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY and eat all the fruit leather you want!!! hahahaha Love you, Mom

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