OK, so I don't know about you, but I DREAD mealtime...namely DINNERtime with Mr. Stubborn-2-year-old. Every night, it's a power struggle. The food will sit untouched on his plate for HOURS until he realizes that I'm not going to budge and let him have bread/cookies/cereal instead.
I'll admit it. For a long time, I've used dessert as a reward for eating dinner. But don't the "experts" say not to use food as a reward? Isn't eating something that should just be done, regardless of what one is going to get afterwards? It's kind of a responsibility as a member of the family. We eat dinner together. We eat what's on our plates. We don't whine and moan and groan (and gnash our teeth) until we finally give in, and eat the vegetables. We just eat.
I'm not a short order cook. And I don't think you should always get "something" for eating. Just eat, d**n it! Mr. Moody (yes, the I'm-never-going-to-get-out-of-the-terrible-two's-phase-toddler has many names and faces) NOW says (before taking a single bite), "what will I get when I eat my dinner?" If I answer with, "a brownie-goodie-treat-candy-whatever," he'll eventually eat.
But I'm done. I'm trying something new. Something I started last night.
I'm doing NOTHING. I'm putting his plate in front of him. We're sitting down as a family to eat. I'm not negotiating. I'm not even talking about it. When we're done eating, he can get down from the table, even if he hasn't had a bite. If he starts asking for something to eat later, I'll direct him back to the table. He can choose.
This doesn't mean there will never be dessert. But there doesn't NEED to be. Dessert should be something occasional, something special, something you don't get EVERY time you eat your food.
Am I wrong to think that this will empower him to eat better if it's his decision whether or not to eat? Tonight he went to bed hungry. He didn't eat his dinner. But he didn't cry when he went to bed, because he knew he'd made that choice.
I'm actually going to try the same approach with potty-training. (And sorry for getting side-tracked with potty talk...this really should be another post on a different blog. Just have to say it.) Anyway, I'm not going to make a big deal out of it (he did great for 3 days, and is now rebelling and refuses to go in the potty). After the dinner non-episode (non-episode because I didn't make a big deal about his non-eating), he actually told me he needed to go potty (for the first time in weeks). I just looked at him and said, "Then go. You know what to do." He looked at me funny, then went in the bathroom and pooped!
So this is my experiment. I'm tired of negotiating. I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of rewarding for behavior that should just be expected. We eat dinner. Period.
Am I mean? Unreasonable? Right on? What are your tricks for getting your kids to eat their food? And what are your opinions on rewarding with sweets? Share your knowledge, advice, opinion, whatever!