Mom: This is what we're having for dinner.
Sarah: (getting out of seat and very dramatically shoving her chair under the table) FINE! Then I choose bed! (huffing and puffing, lifting shoulders up and down and flaring nostrils-waiting for mom's reaction)
Mom: Young lady, sit back down in your chair right now. I don't recall giving you a bedtime option.
A couple of years ago shortly after we moved to TN, Sarah had a hard time with our meals at dinnertime. There was literally weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth! After a routine physical with the pediatrician he gave me some advice on how to nip a stubborn picky eater in the bud. He suggested that I give her two options.
Option one: be civil at the table, at least TRY her dinner and graduate within a week to eating at least half of the portion on her plate and her reward was to stay around the family and not be hungry because she ate food. (no substituting the food or supplementing i.e. no eating anything but what's for dinner period.) That was a hard one for me...that meant lots of standing my ground. LOTS. And if later she complained she was hungry or asked for food her option was to finish dinner/have more...or option two.
Option two: choose not to eat dinner, either by stating so by her own free will OR by her actions (the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth part I mentioned above) The consequence for this option...bed. We eat dinner at 5pm. That meant bed at 5pm. This one was REALLY hard for me because the thought of sending my daughter to bed hungry was NOT fun for me. The doctor assured me she wouldn't starve. She ate enough food during the day to sustain her BUT the side effect would still be hunger...and that would drive her to eat. And to eat...dinner.
Well, I stuck to the plan and it was HARD. PAINFUL. EXHAUSTING. But SO worth the end result. Yes, there were a few nights that she went to bed without dinner. And it was hard to stick to the rules of the "end Sarah's painful dinnertime behavior" but it only took about 2 weeks to see HUGE results and after a few months our house was pleasant and even optimistic at dinnertime...YAY success!
I'm happy to say that it has been more than a year if not MORE since I've had to even OFFER option one or option two...until...back to our story
*after several attempts at deal making, if I eat this then I get that...blah blah blah*
Mom: I said SIT DOWN. I am not negotiating with you.
Sarah: Why can't I choose the option to go to bed?! I DON'T want to eat this, so I will just go to bed.
Mom: Well for one it's bath night and you need a bath. Two you need to finish your homework and three, again I DIDN'T give those options. Now, sit down!
Sarah: FINE I'll sit down but you CAN'T MAKE ME EAT IT!!
Mom: You're right. But I CAN make you sit there until you at least try it. I'll be up late tonight doing school work of my own so go ahead a test me on this.
...one hour later
Sarah: I'm done eating mom. It actually wasn't that bad...can I have some more please?
I kid you not. This is how dinner went. And MOST of the time, a few YEARS ago when she tortured us all with her dinner fits, it wasn't much different. The main difference is that then, instead of just asking for more she usually declared it was her new favorite dish. OY VE!
p.s. for anyone wondering we had Chicken Chimmi's, spanish rice and tortilla chips.