The Dinner Time Power Struggle

Hi, I’m Cat, and I am the parent of one very picky and very opinionated four-year-old girl.

As a non-picky eater myself, I find that I get very frustrated with my daughter Rose when she refuses to even consider trying something new that I know is delicious. Last night, it was stuffing. Yes, one of the best holiday foods ever. Every year around this time I try to get her to eat stuffing, and every year it ends in tears, yelling, and frustration. Mostly hers, but some of mine as well.

Rose the picky eater and her little brother who eats all her leftovers.

If Rose had her way, she would survive on nothing but plain cheese quesadillas. We have managed to sneak a few extra things into the rotation (chicken nuggets, rice, plain pasta with lemon juice, random vegetables like broccoli and kale) but if there’s anything out of the ordinary on her plate, all hell breaks loose.

It makes dinner time pretty stressful. We’ve tried only serving her what we eat and she would rather starve herself than eat. And so, each night, we get the nuggs or the cheese and tortillas out and make her a separate meal from ours.

Yesterday’s stuffing incident really got on my last nerve, so I turned to my trusted parent friend, Google. And I found a really good article that put things in perspective for me.

  1. She is healthy. She’s always been at the top of the growth charts and she is very active.
  2. She is four. This is the worst time for pickiness. Chances are she will outgrow it somewhat over the next few years, but maybe she won’t.
  3. She is VERY strong-willed, and what I have been doing turns dinner time into a power struggle where, even if she could potentially like the strange food in front of her, she will automatically hate it because she has already made up her mind.
  4. Is it really worth the yelling and tears at dinner time just to get her to try one bite of roast potato?
  5. She is not me. Just because I have never been a picky eater doesn’t mean she should be the same. She is her own person, and a very independent one at that.

So I’m going to make a more intentional effort to keep things calm at dinner time. Does that mean I will never try to get her to eat stuffing again? No freaking way, it’s the best and I know someday she will like it. But at the end of the day, does it really matter if her main food group is cheese? It’s not ideal, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. It doesn’t make me a bad mother and it doesn’t make her a bad kid.

We’ll see how it goes…

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