Thursday, January 12, 2012

In high school, one of my ex-boyfriends used to help a group of us study for history exams but then consistently got the worst grade whereas we all came through with flying colours.  In French we say, le cordonnier est toujours le plus mal chaussé of which the English equivalent is apparently "It's always the baker's children who have no bread". Well in my case, it's always the cook who is not fed. 

Let me explain; Emma is going through a horribly picky phase with food. And by that I mean that she will only eat bread, some cheese, yogurt, hard boiled egg, pasta, sandwiches, salami, cucumber and sometimes yellow peppers. Oh and of course chocolate and ice-cream and any junk food served at birthday parties. 

I realize that by some standards this is not so bad and she is not too skinny, but her past appetite and willingness to eat seems to have vanished and she has been looking rather pale.  She has even gone to bed without dinner a few times in the past few weeks after refusing to eat risotto, quinoa, various soups, mashed potatoes and roast, rice, carrots and peas and much more.  Our take on it has been to not give her anything else but what is served for dinner.

We figure if she is hungry, she will (finally) eat and so she now only gets fruit (and maybe a tiny cracker) in the afternoons so as not to ruin her appetite for dinner and in the mornings oats or granola with milk or toast, jam and egg.  I place a sweetie or chocolate in her lunchbox that she can have if she finishes her lunch (these days raw veggies, egg, dark bred or soup, greek pasta salad or pasta and home made ragu). And I am going out of my way to make healthy and nutritious meals for her and us. 

Despite this, she is going to bed on an empty stomach quite regularly.

At midday, I cook for our evening meal and then often end up getting myself a sandwich for lunch as I don't want to eat what I have just cooked and plan to have for dinner. But then, at dinner, my tummy too tight with stress from Emma's whining, negotiating and moaning (and sometimes spitting, throwing up in her plate, crying...) ends up being filled up with ice-cream at 10pm in front of the telly! Not healthy at all!!

On the positive side, William and Steph are eating well!

At first we thought it might just be a phase, but now it's been going on for some time and I worry about her health.  And mine!
Most of the things I have read on the Internet about this kind of attitude in children has to do with control - they exert it where they can - and Emma definitely likes to control her environment. In fact she can be quite bossy at times or "likes sharing her strong  opinions" as they put it in her school report. 
So, I really try giving her a choice;  On more than one occasion have made her exactly the dinner she had requested only to have her refuse it. I have also tried taking her food shopping and giving her choice in many other situations such as which clothes to wear, what park to go to, what game to play or music to listen to, film to watch, book to read, parent to take her to bed etc. But there are still many occasions where we need to tell her what to do when asking isn't enough; to get into the car, to put her shoes and coat on, to put her slippers on, to stop badgering William, to empty her mouth before talking, to stop interrupting, to wait... I mean she is 4,5 years old!!!)
Also, I have tried "playing it cool" and just saying "ok" when she says "I don't want this" and asking her to just stay seated until William finishes. This I find really hard. Mainly because she is ruining every single meal these days and I really am beginning to resent it.

I also think there might be a bit of jealousy involved as William is taking up more space these days as he grows older and more independent but also makes his wishes clearer too. Emma is gradually losing all the "big sister" privileges as William is increasingly capable of doing more and more (taking the school bus with her, playing more games...). Undeniably he is also demanding more attention because he gets up to mischief in the bat of an eyelash and also needs help in learning /attaining his goals. I think Emma is resenting this as well as the very little time she gets to spend alone with me. Once open and happy to see him enter her room she now closes the door and says she does not want him to make a mess in it. We always try to respect her wishes when it comes to her room/space/things but when they are in the play-room and he has got hold of a toy first, then she is asked to wait her turn to use it if they cannot share it. This is a major battle. Umph.

Anyway, going back to the food issue,  any ideas or suggestions? 

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