Who’s Running This Show, Anyway?

Life with two kids

Last night, I made a pretty simple dinner: egg noodles with a little shredded cheese and some steamed broccoli. I served it to the kids along with some carrot sticks and a little Eva-safe ranch. It’s all food that they’ve had before and I didn’t anticipate any trouble.

Ha ha.

Neither kid ate. Both requested different foods and those requests were denied because I am not a short order cook. Calvin never took a bite. Eva took a bite and then let it sit in her mouth with her eyes watering for an hour. We begged, we commanded, we bargained. Nothing.

They were sent to bed a little before seven, which is more than an hour earlier than usual, and we wrapped up their plates of untouched food and put them in the fridge. This morning, when they woke up, they woke up to dinner for breakfast.

Fast forward another two hours. Eva had given in and eaten eventually, reveling in the fact that she was the “good one” (I can’t relate but Kyle says it’s a great feeling when you’re a kid). Calvin hadn’t eaten and instead sat and glared at me patiently while I did crafts at the table with his sister. Finally – finally – he really wanted to work on his valentines so I asked him to take just three bites (much less than his sister had eaten, but I know when I’m beat) so I helped him eat three egg noodles and carried his plate to the kitchen.

While I was around the corner, I heard Eva say “Oh noooooo…”


Calvin threw up from one end of the dining room to the other. It was not pretty.

I’ll omit the details here but long story short I made a batch of sugar cookies, put jam on a bunch of English muffins, and let the kids eat as much sugary junk as they wanted to for lunch. I also wanted to see if he was buggy, but the cookies and English muffins and sweet tea stayed down so apparently it was notsomuch the flu as it was the forced eating.

Obviously, this was a parenting mistake but is it ok for them to go on a hunger strike because they only eat nuggets and pizza?? No! But what do we do?!

The Internet says this:

  • The rule in the family is that you have to try three bites of each food that is served. If you still don’t want it after that, you don’t have to eat it. (Source)
  • No seconds until you try a little of everything—but then seconds can be whatever part of the meal you like most. (Source)
  • Let your kids serve themselves and do not discuss what they eat or don’t eat. Simply clear their plates at the end of the meal. (Source)
  • The best way I know to eliminate pressure at dinner is to serve a few bites of fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack…most days. That way you know that when your son gets to the dinner table he’s already eaten a lot of the good stuff. (Source)

Well, we have a one bite rule but it’s still not working. Seconds pretty much only happens when burritos and pancakes happen and we can’t only eat burritos and pancakes. If I let the kids serve themselves and then clear their plates THEY WON’T EAT. And I didn’t know not serving fruits and veggies at each meal was an option so that doesn’t help either.

Blah! Where is instruction manual for this stuff??

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  • Reply Jensey

    Oh, Carly. 🙁

    When my brother was 4, he insisted on only eating Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. Like, from the box, 3 meals a day. My mom asked the pediatrician what to do, and he told to be strong. Make dinner and he can eat that dinner or nothing at all, and in a couple meals, he’ll figure out that she’s only making one meal and that’s that. Charlie went three days without eating. THREE DAYS. Mom called the pediatrician, and the Dr. said, “Feed that kid Mac and Cheese.” For nearly a year, that’s all he ate.

    Kids are so scary. Good luck!!!!!

    February 2, 2016 at 6:27 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Wow, that started out with me thinking you were going to say that strength and starvation was the key and then…nope! LOL – I’m assuming your brother made it through life just fine and is not only eating boxed mac n cheese?

      February 2, 2016 at 11:01 pm
  • Reply Natalie

    I have a pretty good resource for this topic but long story short I think the best rule is ‘You decide when and what, they decide how much.’ My 2 and a half year old pretty much never eats his dinner but he is so head strong that I just have learned to let it go – he is a healthy weight and he eats a good breakfast and lunch. Good luck!

    February 3, 2016 at 12:23 pm
  • Reply Jamie

    When you figure this out, please let me know. I have a 3.5 and 18 mo and getting them to eat anything other than chicken nuggets and waffles is like pulling teeth!

    February 3, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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