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Discpline on Feeding - any suggestions?

  1. #1
    lii is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Hong Kong

    Discpline on Feeding - any suggestions?

    Lately, my 21 month old child has developed this horrible habit of taking food from her mouth and throwing it on the floor. She normally tends to do this when

    1. she doesn't like the food
    2. she's semi-full and doesn't feel like eating

    Actions I've tried to take are:

    1. Explaining to her that it's wrong and not a nice thing to do as someone has to clean it up (sometimes her)
    2. Giving her a 2 minute time-out when she does that
    3. Stopping the meal

    So far, none of these have worked. I'm at ends with what to do!!! It seems that she knows she's doing wrong, especially now that she's stopped crying at the 2 minute time-out and just twiddles her fingers.

    Any suggestions!?
    It's happening at every meal!


  2. #2
    KatBoo is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Pok Fu Lam
    I am a firm believer in not disciplning children at mealtimes, as any anxiety at mealtimes can turn into problems later. Try not to get stressed about mealtimes because they will pick up on the fact that it's become a stressful situation (hard not to though, I know!!)

    'Playing with food' at this age is usually a sign that they've had enough, in which case, just take it away from her (maybe ask her to tell you when she's had enough instead).

    She may be doing it for attention - any kind of reaction from you is a reaction. Perhaps just say "oh, so you didn't want that bit, that means you've had enough", pick up the bits on the floor, and take the bowl away. As soon as she realises she's not getting a reaction from you, it will become boring.

    Also, remember that positively reinforcing good behaviour is ALWAYS better than negatively reinforcing bad behaviour.

    We are currently trying to get my 2.5 year old to eat with his fork instead of fingers, so we are using a star chart where he gets a sticker each time he uses his fork for the entire meal. To be honest though, if he uses his fingers, I don't really get bothered or stressed because at least he's eating and the fork will come with time.

    Hope this is of some help

  3. #3
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sai Kung
    there is only so much reasoning that can be done with a 21 month old. i also try to explain WHY it is wrong, but as my mother said, "he's only 2! they are not wired yet for reasoning. it wasn't that long ago that their only form of communication was crying."

    tell her that if she spits out her food again, you are taking it away and she will get NOTHING else until next meal time. (i would continue to make her clean it up as well.)

    then follow through.

    if you are in a restaurant, then tell her you will take her out of the restaurant. she will get nothing else to eat.(you must be willing to leave the restaurant at the drop of a hat.)

    then follow through.

    a child will NOT let themselves starve. you have to be strong and follow through with your warnings. it won't take them very long to realise that you mean business.

  4. #4
    loupou is offline Baby Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    New Territories
    I agree that kids of 21 months are impervious to reason.

    My suggestion:

    1)Frown & say "that's not the way to end a meal nicely! Next time say 'done'."

    2) End the meal

    3) Have her help clean up the mess (not in a punitive way - but in a matter-of-fact way of "this is what we do when we make a mess.")

    As Carang says, "follow through".

    If she does start to say "done" or "bao" or whatever before spitting the food, smile and say "that's right..."

    Also, if you notice she always spits something out that she doesn't like (orange? cheese?) try not giving it to her.

    One other possibility (if it's gristle or something she can't really swallow easily). Try and train her to spit into a tissue or napkin discreetly.

  5. #5
    lii is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Hong Kong
    I too am not a firm believer of severe discipline in general. But sometimes, there is a line where you just can't go there.

    So upon taking some of the mommy advice here, I've decided to try the "positive reinforcement" tactic.

    It actually is working! So far, she doesn't throw the food, but will just stick out her tongue to let me know she doesn't want it.

    It is highly embarrassing when she does throw food (and she's done it in restaurants before), so this first step is very good.

    Thank you all the mommies for your advice.


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