Setting Limits at Dinner Time

One Saturday, we took our family to a club with an outdoor swimming pool in Petaluma.  My step-daughter loves swimming and my son is starting to enjoy it more.  There were two beautiful outdoor pools, a water slide, and a hot tub cool enough for kids.  We had a lovely day.

On the way home, my son took a short nap in the car, but woke up grumpy and irritable.  Nevertheless, he played by himself for a while as we made dinner.  But when it was time to come to the table, he said he wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to eat.  I told him we were all going to eat together and it was time to come sit down.  He walked into the kitchen complaining about wanting to play more.  “And I’m not hungry!” he whined.

When he saw what was for dinner he started to whimper and whine more and said he didn’t want chicken and vegetables.  “That looks yucky!”  He cried.  He went to the refrigerator and pulled out a loaf of bread.  I told him we weren’t going to eat bread for dinner, we were all going to eat chicken and vegetables. But he brought the bread to the table crying and he tried to undo the tie on the plastic wrap.  I put my hand gently on his hand and said, “Sorry sweetie, we are not having bread tonight.”  He cried more and threw the loaf of bread to the floor.  He pushed away his chicken and vegetables and told me to leave him alone.  I told him I didn’t want to leave him alone with these feelings.  His sister got up from the table and put the bread in the refrigerator and he cried more.

I decided to take him to the other room so that the rest of the family could eat.  He sat on my lap and cried more.  I was hungry and wanted to eat, so when his crying slowed down,  I gave in a little and offered him avocado (instead of the mixed vegetables that were on his plate).  He agreed to eat avocado and came back to the table with me.

When we got back to the table he ate half of the avocado and then tried some of the chicken on his plate that he had pushed away.  A few minutes later he had devoured all of the chicken, another half of avocado, and two servings of the mixed vegetables that were on his plate!  He was chatty and sweet at the table and lovely the rest of the evening.  I couldn’t believe how much dinner he ate that night!

Join Certified Instructor Julie Johnson in her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding class, beginning March 12.

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