We had some great meals this past week and we've made quite a bit of progress in getting Charlie to try new foods. In the past, I've flopped back and forth between making a separate meal (if you can call popping chicken nuggets in the microwave a "meal") for the boys and making them eat what Chris and I are eating. Lately, I've gotten really tired of doing this. It's so frustrating to make a meal that I am so excited to eat only to have my kids refuse it.
Well, it's a new year and we're all working on some new habits. Each night this week, instead of popping nuggets, PB&J or a bowl of cereal in front of the boys, they have gotten a plate (or bowl) full of whatever meal was on the menu. Dinner time has not been the most pleasant time of day (not that I could say it ever really was), but I think the end result of this change will be well worth all of the tears along the way.
And there have been many tears this week! There have also been many threats of bedtime (even some trips to the bedroom to put jammies on), trips back and forth to the timer in the kitchen, and much pleading and bribing. On Monday night, when a plate of tilapia, couscous and green beans was placed in front of Isaac, he actually threw it on the floor! Chris put him in bed, I prepared another plate for him and we put him right back at the table with his dinner. Surprise, surprise! He actually ate some of the fish and couscous! He also devoured his Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips (which were absolutely amazing and will definitely be on our menu again). Charlie didn't do too well with the fish but we made progress with Cran-Apple Turkey Skillet and Crockpot Beef & Barley Soup - he liked both and actually cleared his plate when we had the turkey skillet.
Our struggle with Charlie has been more of a battle of wills than a struggle with him not liking foods. Even when he likes something, it is SO HARD for him to admit it. He would rather cry and pretend to gag (we've gotten pretty good at being able to tell the difference between a real gag and a fake one) than admit that something he's tried isn't all that bad. And when he does admit it, he says it with such surprise in his voice!
The hardest part of this dinner time change has been having the patience to deal with the tears and tantrums. Some nights are better than others, but we're going to keep pushing through.
A few things have helped make this change a bit easier. Some of the meals on the menu were pretty out there in terms of foods that are typically considered "kid" foods - pea soup, fish, couscous - but in between those "out there" meals were more "kid-friendly" meals - homemade chicken nuggets and French toast. Charlie put up a stink because the nuggets didn't look like his normal nuggets, but the French toast was eaten without complaint.
Chris and I have developed a pretty decent tag-team system. Chris tends to be the "bad cop" whereas I get to be the "good cop" (for once!) but every once in a while, it works in our favor to switch those roles. The boys can tell that we're supporting each other and they won't be able to play one of us against the other.
Charlie is a fan of rewards so I've also created a sort of "star chart" for him. Every time he's tried a new food, we draw the food on the chart we created, write its name and include the date he tried it. Next to the name of the food, we put either a red x or a green check mark to indicate whether or not he liked the food. He loves to add things to his chart (although, so far this hasn't reduced his tears about trying foods) and loves showing it off even more.
Some nights, bribing has helped, too. Charlie loves games and got a few for Christmas. He knows that if he tries his dinners and eats them in a timely manner (we've had to set a timer a few times because he d.r.a.g.s. e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. o.u.t.), we will play a game or two of Uno Moo or Sequence for Kids or Memory before bed. This is a really special thing for him and having that reward to look forward to really helps.
I'm feeling pretty excited about the progress we've made in just one week. We went from having to feed Charlie bites of the food to him actually picking up his fork tonight and putting a piece of beef into his mouth with me only having to ask him once. He liked the beef (but did comment that the broth looked like slime on some of the pieces!) and ate a good amount of his dinner. I was so happy, I got teary-eyed! I'm actually looking forward to dinner time this coming week! I'll post a meal plan tomorrow night. ;)