Dear: Parenting 911 My son Drew is 4 he is impossible come meal time. ANY MEAL….. He loves his junk food — but hates veggies, loves cereal — hates oatmeal and fruit. He will not compromise…PERIOD… The Pediatrician said not to worry, but at his last physical he had lost 4 lbs — FOUR POUNDS — that’s A LOT for a four-year old. He is clearly not getting the proper nutrition, but by the time we’re done with the breakfast FIGHT I am so tired — I just let him eat what he wants. I am genuinely worried about my son, he feels like he is to big for me to tell him what to do about food. With his first year of school looming come fall, he has made it MORE THAN CLEAR — that he DOES NOT want a packed lunch — but instead cafeteria food, but I worry that because of his finicky-ness he will NOT eat all day. I don’t know how to combat a child who will eat his boogers but not a damn vegetable???? Please help….. Sincerely: Just keep em’ coming
Dear: Keep em’ coming but a little “stronger”
Your assumption that his weight loss is unhealthy; is not only fair but a definite cause for concern. Though his Pediatrician is a doctor that does not always mean he is right, most of the time I find a mother’s intuition is usually correct. Since four-year old’s are always in such a hurry to grow up, perhaps giving him some responsibilities when it comes to his meals will help.
He probably has seen you clip coupons, flip through circulars, and make shopping lists. Try to have him do the same, engage him in the food shopping preparation. I’ve found that allowing them a little “control” over their choices food, beverage, room decor etc — is a very useful and effective tool, when combatting a pre-schoolers “lego-my-EGO” power-trip phases.
Make it a big deal that he is now part of such an important household task. Tell Drew that he “has a point” and that “he is old enough to help, and contribute — to meal planning.” As you make your lists, and clip your grocery list coupons, allow him to do the same. Even if they are outdated — coupon cutting is half the fun. A pair of safety scissors and a stack of old $1.00 off’s — along with his very own list will not only ease his “I AM NOT A BABY ANYMORE” attitude — but also allow you to see what he may be willing to try. I have found tools like this to be helpful.
Give him healthy options, as well as the things he loves. Explain that, since he is now older, and more responsible — that means he NEEDS to feed his big boy brain — better for him, growth-stimulating foods.
“Make a deal with him — as much as I do not like compromising on things such as their health — 4 year olds tend to respond better, when they feel a sense of control.”
The deal will usually consist of a few variables
- For EVERY two not so healthy choices — he MUST pick one “good for growing” item.
- Every meal from lunch on is now “A FOOD-CHALLENGE” — he MUST try something new, and eat the predetermined amount, in order to “win”.
- These are NON-NEGOTIABLE guidelines to growing up.
- Begin a measurement chart — though somewhat sneaky, and not ALL parents will go for it — a white lie at this point truly is for his own good, and health. Have him stand against a measuring chart — and mark it about an inch and a half lower than his actual height. Set your scale back just about 5 pounds, and have him weigh himself — then mark it down. Every time he tries and succeeds at a new food — remeasure and weigh him, increasing his height and weight, by just a little — enough for him to feel like he’s “winning” but not so little he feels that you are. Reinforcing how good food feeds his brain, muscles, and bones — WILL have an effect.
There are websites especially designed for picky eaters — that make even the most tasteless but necessary foods — seem like a treat. One I have found and love, full of amazing recipes is:
Including all kinds of breakfast recipes, like CHOCOLATE BROWNIE OATMEAL…. what? How can you deny snack food in your breakfast? and most of these recipes are based on Whole Foods stores products. AMAZING.
There are so many sites, with more tips, and tricks — recipes and more. These are the ones I have personally found helpful. Whatever you do DO NOT give up. These stages do pass, the true test is WILL YOU? I have no doubt that you will. And don’t forget he is putting in work too, also making compromises, so make a big deal out of EVERY success. Good luck to you both… Happy Growing…
Sincerely: Heather Cornell of Parenting 911