Behaviour problems & fussy eating *urgent plz, post 17 :(*

Discussion in 'Toddler & Pre-School' started by Linzi, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. Linzi

    Linzi Prodest mummy ever

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    Ill start with the fussy eating.

    About 2 years ago, seth suddenly stopped eating any fruit or veg or trying new foods. Ive tried literally everything to get something decent in him... pureeing & hiding in pasta sauces, soups, bribery, letting him help me cook, reward charts. Nothing works. We're at the point where now all he will eat is banana, rice, plain pasta, cereal, and sandwiches (whice he pulls the filling out of). Of course, he eats crisps, cake etc no problem. He has tried other things in the last 6 months but he just gags and throws up, then refuses to touch them again.

    He complains of a sore tummy which i guess is constipation, he only goes once every couple of days, and he is so skinny :(

    Everyone kept telling us it was a phase, he's asserting his independance but its almost 2 years now.

    Then, hiis behaviour. Im worried about him, hes always had a lot of energy, but he just has no concentration whatsoever, he flits between this & that, he runs everywhere, climbs on anything he can find. When we do something together he will sit for literally about 3 mins and then gets bored and wants to do something else. He has selective hearing, no discipline seems to work, again we have tried everything... limiting tv, reward charts, earlier bedtime, treating him. Nothing works. When you tell him off or put him pon the naughty step he just either laughs or lashes out hitting and kicking. His sleep through the night is terrible which really doesnt help... last night for example he went to bed at 730, woke up at 3, was awake til 6, fell asleep til 8 then up again. He has quite nasty nightmares too and gets pains in his legs.

    Im really worried about him. I just have no idea what to do anymore.
     
  2. AlwaysPraying

    AlwaysPraying Mom of two!

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    Have you considered testing him for food allergies? Some kids instinctively know not to eat certain foods if they have an allergy. That can also be related to their attitude and personality, if their tummys aren't right it can make them grumpy.
     
  3. sophxx

    sophxx Well-Known Member

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    I'd go to the gp explain everything you've just written and ask for a referral to the pead. Even if it's only to put your mind at rest. It could be he doesn't like the texture of certain foods. X
     
  4. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    Please write down an average day's food/drink.

    QT
     
  5. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    Do you eat with him? Especially when offering a new food. Ruby will only eat about 4 dinners if she isn't eating with us, but will at least try stuff if I/we are eating with her. She eats pretty much anything at nursery, same kind of thing I guess.

    I don't know about the behaviour, the only thing that really jumps out is the inconsistency of trying all these different approaches...
     
  6. Cattia

    Cattia Well-Known Member

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    This sounds very similar to my friend's little girl at about the same age. She would only eat white food, like bread or pasta. In the end my friend took her to the Dr who did some tests and found that there was no underlying problem like anaemia caused by poor eating, so it was basically a case of addressing her behaviour. She said that a healthy child will not starve themselves, and that the little girl was turning food into a power battle with her parents. My friend got a timer and she put whatever they were eating in front of her daughter, and put the timer on for 20 minutes, then if she had not started eating after 20 minutes, the food went in the bin and nothing else was offered. She was a super slow eater so if she had started after 20 minutes, my friend would give her a bit longer to eat as much as she could and if she had eaten a decent amount (about half) she would give a pudding.
    I don't know whether this is a method that everyone would agree with, as I know some people are not keen on making pudding into a 'reward' which I can understand, but this approach used consistently really transformed her eating. All the power struggle was taken out of it - she either ate the food given in the time allocated, or she didn't. Obviously my friend found it very hard as there were a few days when she basically ate nothing all day and went to bed hungry, but she persisted. If you are going to use a technique like this, I would say it is important to clear it with a Dr first. The behaviour could be normal toddler behaviour but could also be compounded by him not getting a balanced diet. It sounds very hard and I feel for you, Abigail is going through a very fussy eating stage at the moment and I find it really stressful and hard to know how to handle it.
     
  7. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this sort of approach (although don't use a timer): either DS eats what I give him or he doesn't eat. Assuming he eats a reasonable amount, he gets dessert (but this is always fruit/yoghurt, unless maybe we are out at a restaurant).

    Depending on the circumstances, I have also used "alternating" the main course and fruit ("you can have a piece of pear, if you eat a spoonful of cottage pie first")...

    If DS refuses to eat, I just get him down from the highchair, put personally (now) keep his dinner. Invariably he will start banging on the snack cupboard five minutes later.... I say "no, if you are hungry then you eat your dinner" and show it to him again. If he is hungry, then invriable he will eat it (although often sitting at his little table).

    A toddler will not starve themslves. Of course they would rather just eat cakes and biscuits and things, but they are really a blank book and they need to be "trained" into a good, healthy attitude towards food. You need to be firm and consistent, but calm and appear non-frustrated (even when you are): don't turn it into a battlefield.

    The behaviour things sounds fairly normal for a toddler boy - they are incredibly active, love running and climbing, have the attention span of a gnat... etc. Do you get out a lot? Lots of opportunities to burn that energy off (pent up energy = mischief!)?

    I also notice that you have a fairly new baby? Has your DS's behaviour got worse since the birth? I think this can be quite normal: it is an attention seeking thing - even bad attention is preferable...

    You need to choose a discipline method and be firm and consistent and not get wound=up/frustrated (or at least not show it). Do you still praise good behaviour? Sometimes bad behaviour can wind us up s much, that we forget the priase for the good things. Keep up the praise and, in time, he should remember that attention for being good is so much better than attention for being bad :)

    QT


     
  8. Cattia

    Cattia Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Echo the new baby comment as well - since I started weaning George, Abigail who has been a fiercely independent eater since about 13 months, now often wants to be fed her food again :dohh:
     
  9. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    Not necessarily. Arguably all this interfering, 'just one more spoonful' 'eat x so you can have y' runs its own risks of creating / reinforcing battlegrounds and therefore poor habit...
     
  10. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure what you are disagreeing with? You should feed them with cakes and biscuits if that is all that they will eat?

    Yes, I might use broccoli or pear to get him to eat his main course (although this is rare), but often that is when he refuses to eat something new (for the first couple of times). Once he becomes familiar with it - and likes it - he doesn't have the same problem eating it.

    No, I don't use it to "overfeed" when full, just to get him to eat healthily... Sometimes DS "turns his nose up" at either new foods or "favourite foods in new/distracting" environments.

    I think that - unless you are blessed with a child who eats anything at any time without a complaint - you really do need to encourage your child to try new foods and eat what is infront of them (providing they have appetite). A toddler is a huge opportunity to be a positive influence that will stay with them for life. Once you have an older fussy eater (5/9/teenager/adult), then it is a lot harder to change them.

    I know far too many adults who "wont eat vegetables" and one (who until she was in her early 20s" would ONLY ever eat chicken nuggets and chips :dohh:

    I am a huge believer that a toddler is an open book in just about every aspect of their lives: they are born with various characteristics, but the first 2/3 years of their life, we have a HUGE influence on the people that they will become (lifetsyle, attitudes, manners, self-confidence, empathy, how they deal with anger etc). Once they go to school, there are a lot of influences outside of our control.

    Anyway, it works for us :)
    QT
     
  11. Linzi

    Linzi Prodest mummy ever

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    He is at nursery all three meals monday & tuesday, and has breakfast and lunch on wednesday. Im told he always eats it all but I dont believe it. Ive stood outside when no one knew I was there and watched and he never ate anything.

    So when I have him at home

    Breakfast: weetabix/porridge & raisins/shredded wheat (we dont use sugary cereal), glass of smoothie
    Lunch: Usually I make him something like chicken breast & cous cous, chilli & rice, or something like chicken/sausages with potato & veg. Of all of that he used to eat cous cous, not anymore. He wont eat chicken. He wont eat chilli, only the rice. And he would eat the mash potato, but not if its prepared in a different way, has other veg mashed in or eat any of the other veggies either. Glass of water. If he eats all his dinner he gets a yoghurt or some jelly with peaches in maybe.
    Tea: Usually something light, like scrambled egg on toast (will eat the toast), sandwich (will eat the bread but pick out the filling), chicken in pitta bread (will eat pitta bread not the chicken). Glass of milk/water. If he eats it or makes a good effot, he would have a yoghurt, fruit salad or similar, he's also stopped eating yoghurt and all kinds of fruit except banana.

    I dont give snacks through the day except maybe raisins or a banana.

    I think this is probably all my fault to be honest. He was very underweight as a baby as he was lactose intolerant which didn't get diagnosed for about 6 months, I worry about him loosing weight again because he was very poorly. But I have always given him a healthy diet!!


    As for sitting down together at the table, for breakfast and lunch we do because I eat at the same time, but for his last meal, my husband doesn't get in til 6 and I do a cooked meal for us because he takes a packed lunch in and its almost time to get the kids ready for bed... I try and stick to Seth's nursery routine at home so thats why he gets his main meal at lunch time.

    We are fairly consistent when it comes to disapline... we use the approach of we ask him not to do something, if he contines we give him a warning to stop and try and distract him, if he continues he goes on the naughty step for 3 minutes, if he hits/kicks etc when he is on the naughty step, one of us takes him up to his bedroom for a few mins quiet time, have a chat, read a book to him, and bring him back down to apologise. When he's said sorry we change the subject dont mention it again and get on with doing something else. We've been consistent with that for a long time but it doesn't work really, he doesn't mind going on there, he just gets back off, laughs at us etc.

    The reward chart we still do, I might say to him if he is a good boy and doesn't run off round the shop while we're doing the food shop he will get 2 stickers for his chart... we don't deduct stickers for bad behaviour and we give him loads and loads of praise for good behaviour.

    I feel very uncomfortable about taking his food off him tbh. I hate seeing him hungry, which probably goes along with him being poorly as a baby, I dont want to see him like that again you know? It does sound like a really good idea with the timer etc but I dont know if Im strong enough to do it, if my husband was here too maybe I could but I give him all his meals at home. I dont know if I could do it to him, Im just a bit soft. Also not sure how I would deal with it if he genuinely doesn't like something in that situation?

    With Molly, he has struggled a little but it did start a little while before I was pregnant. It hasn't got seriously seriously worse since she came along. He does love her loads and is really good with her but I think he does struggle a little. But we still do things without her, he gets time with both of us on his own and we are constantly doing things for him... little day trips & stuff?

    We do get out a bit, when I have him at home for the 2 1/2 days, I try and get at least one trip out a day even if its just a walk to the local shop. Ive got PND at the moment though and a bit of social anxiety, so Ive struggled to take him to soft play or play groups for about 6 weeks because of that. But we do go out everyday, he'd be unbearable stuck in the house all day lol


    Thanks for all the responses, been really helpful :hugs:
     
  12. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    Yeah, QTPie I do understand what you mean, I just don't like bribery and think it can possibly create more long term problems than the short term fixes it appears to have done. But this thread probably isn't the place for a detailed discussion on that which would probably derail Linzi's thread, sorry Linzi.
     
  13. QTPie

    QTPie Well-Known Member

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    Yes, in some ways I do see your point - although I cannot currently see all of the ins and outs of it...

    I personally don't have a problem with it, providing it is done sparingly, in suitable situations and with suitable rewards (not sweets etc) etc. That may come back to bite me though! ;)

    I do not bribe other things with food, but I might say something like "if you are good in the shop, then we will go to the park later".

    I would be very interested in your thoughts on bribery - it might change how I do things for the better and I don't think it is terribly off topic.

    QT
     
  14. Linzi

    Linzi Prodest mummy ever

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    Nope, debate away interested to see others opinions :flower:
     
  15. Jemma_x

    Jemma_x Mummy and Engaged

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    On my phone at the min but i have alot of problems with LO and eating so will reply properly when im on laptop
     
  16. LoveleeB

    LoveleeB Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like it could be a gluten allergy. The constipation, night time waking, eating lots of wheat, lack of concentration....
     
  17. Linzi

    Linzi Prodest mummy ever

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    ^never thought of that actually!

    need some pretty urgent help now i dot know what to do :(

    this weekend he has eaten:
    toasted teacake
    smoothie
    half a bowl of cereal

    hes starving himself i dont know what to do :(
     
  18. isil

    isil Well-Known Member

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    aww babe, you know the worst thing you can do is worry about it too much. If Seth knows that he is upsetting you then he will probably keep not eating for a reaction - a negative reaction is as good as a positive one iykwim.

    I don't know what to suggest but I think that you just need to keep offering him a range of foods (nothing new, just expected stuff) and not make a fuss when he doesn't eat anything.
     
  19. LoveleeB

    LoveleeB Well-Known Member

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    I would make a Doctors appointment. Discuss his lack of eating and if he might have an allergy. Do you know if your DS is losing weight right now?

    When your son isn't eating, does he get upset or does he just choose not to eat what you put in front of him? If you ask him what he wants to eat, what does he say?
     
  20. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    I just saw this, I'd forgotten about this!
    Basically bribery can interfere with their intrinsic motivation for doing the desirable thing. It could be argued that children are well intentioned and most behaviours that we label 'bad' are purely the result of them having little to no impulse control, as they strive to learn more and explore their surroundings, learn their abilities, learn about cause and effect, etc. So if we punish the 'bad' by removing our approval in some way, or bribe via treats, positive reinforcement etc then we are interfering with their natural intentions towards good behaviour and could end up with a child who only 'behaves' to get a sticker / praise / a treat or to avoid punishment. Because that is their motivation, they are less likely to learn good decision making skills and to do the right thing when we are not around!

    We need to guide them in age appropriate ways and show logical consequences to all behaviours and make sure they feel our unconditional approval of them regardless of their behaviour.

    This is not the easy road to take! But I can't get behind all the behaviourist approaches that seem very popular these days...

    'Unconditional Parenting' by Alfie Kohn expresses this a lot better than me :) It's summarised very well somewhere on the Analytical Armadillo blog...
     

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