Tuesday, January 10, 2012

3 year old had nightmares about eating

It's true. I witnessed him having a nightmare in his crib. He was obviously disturbed and he was turning and turning and he seemed scared. Then I stayed to watch to see if I could find out what he was scared about. When he spoke, he said "No. I don't want to eat." My heart sank.

It saddens me to know that he is having nightmares about eating. He will grow up troubled because we constantly nag at him at the dining table :( On the up side it does work in getting him to eat a balanced healthy meal. When I told Jean-Louis about the incident, he first laughed and then he said it's only human to be psychologically damaged. If it's not this, it will be something else later on. I guess when it comes down to it, we have more or less two options:
  1. Have him grow up physically healthy knowing he has good nutrition but is a bit troubled or 
  2. Have him grow up unhealthy, a bit malnutrition on vitamins, and not troubled with eating issues.
Obviously we picked to go with option 1.

The past week was a terrible week in that Tristan was sick and he didn't want to eat. We were lucky if he had a few bites of his dinner. He ate very little and we didn't push him too hard. We also got in the habit of feeding him his leftover dinner, at least a spoon or two of it, before giving him his normal breakfast of bread or pancake. By morning he was usually hungry so it wasn't so hard. However, one morning was particularly bad in that I lost my mind and force fed him two spoons of fried rice. I knew it was wrong to do and but I had to do it to prove a point. When my threats didn't work, I just lost it. I didn't hurt him since I was still pretty gentle but the fact that I did that upset him a lot. Of course this made him cry and I felt really bad. I had a miserable night of sleep and I was feeling under the weather. That was why I lost my mind. I'll just have to step away next time for a breather. This mad incident and the increased nagging last week probably gave him bad dreams. Poor Tristan:( Already troubled at 3 years old.

Speaking of eating well and finding balanced meals, this Healthy Eating Plate was released September 14, 2011 from a research study based on scientific evidence. It looks like a good blueprint to follow.


Anonymous said...

i just found your blog recently and really enjoy your frankness and honesty in raising your son. i am not a parent but soon will be one, this eating issue is very very interesting to me. i know alot of non-parents, me included, often think that if a kid is hungry enough they will eat whatever, as long as its not really awful, or something that an adult might refuse.

so how true is that statement? if he doesn't eat much for dinner, will he eat the food, plus more, next morning or later on in the day? do kids really put themselves on hunger strike for days on end?

i don't think skipping a meal really leads to malnutrition do you?

Susan said...

From our experience, if Tristan doesn't eat any dinner the night before (which is rarely the case), he will be willing to eat it the next morning. In fact, we tell him the night before that we will be giving it back to him at the next meal so that he knows. We remind him of this the next morning. It's much easier to give lunch again at dinner than it is to give dinner again at breakfast. The fact is, we have only ever offered him his leftover dinner for breakfast a few times. This past week was a bit irregular in that we got him to eat two spoonfuls of leftovers before his usual breakfast. In the past there would not be any regular breakfast at all. He was sick last week though so we weren't as strict.

Tristan has never been on a hunger strike. He has only ever skipped one meal completely.

No, skipping a meal does not lead to malnutrition nor does being a picky eater and being allowed to eat what you want. However, doing this repeatedly may and will likely lead to unhealthy eating habits. That's what I believe.

Just to clarify, the options I listed in the blog apply to us and may not apply to others. We're strict parents who live a healthy lifestyle and will not tolerate a very picky eater.

Thanks for the comment and congratulations on being a soon-to-be mom! Food issues are a pain and are tricky to resolve. I don't want to scare you but every child is different as well. In general, I think we are very lucky in that Tristan is overall a very good eater. We nag, yes but we don't have to all the time :) We also have high expectations.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your reply!

harriet glynn said...

Theo barely eats. Seriously, it's a joke. I try SO hard to let it go. I just present the food at mealtimes. If he eats great, if not, I try to get him to eat some peanut butter, nuts, cheese, grapes whatever. I try REALLY hard not to let it get to me. My DH has a much harder time with it and really wants to push it much harder than I do. The bottom line is, he's happy, healthy and in great spirits. It seems that SO many kids eat so little, it must be normal. I do know that my nephew essentially started eating properly at 7 - it's like he suddenly got hungry!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I do love reading about your fancy baking, but I can't help but comment on this eating issue....

If you provide healthy food options and demonstrate a healthy lifestyle yourselves, then that in itself will instill good habits in your kid. Everything in moderation is key! Don't make food such a big negative deal.

Forcefeeding, nagging, etc, will just make your child resent meal times, and he will begin to approach eating as an unpleasant chore rather than something to savour and enjoy! If he is not hungry just let it go - he is clearly healthy and not at risk of malnutrition. Don't you think its mean to make him feel bad for not being hungry at dinner time?

Susan said...

In response to the last comment, it really isn't as easy as it may sound. In our experience, bad habits are much easier to learn than good habits. We have always set a good eating example but Tristan is still picky from time to time. He's just at that age right now. It's not that he is not hungry but he actually wants to eat something else. And I don't feel good about letting him skip meals after meals.

Just a quick update: we're back on track now! Tristan has recovered from his cold and his eating much better now. He finishes his meals now (own his own) and we tell him we're happy about it. Nagging has drastically declined :)

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