I know it’s not quite the example that’ll make it to best practices for parenting, but I’m still proud (not to mention glad!) to have finally gotten my four year old to feed himself dinner within 35 minutes! Yes! And he eats everything in his plate including VEGETABLES without fuss! Woo Hoo!
(for the time-challenged skip the rest and read “Success!!!”)
My initial wonderful, perfect parenting plan was to get him to feed himself for all his meals before his baby sister came (he was 2 then). But it wasn’t as easy as anticipated. I found pieces of vegetables on the floor… my silly boy would sneak the “v” pieces in his finger and discreetly “let them go” without realising that mommy would spot them strewn all over the floor below! He would also take forever just to complete a meal.
As I was pregnant, suffered three months of morning sickness and hormonal you can imagine it almost always end up with me yelling. So I half gave up. He’d feed himself lunch and halfway when I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d end up feeding him. And I’d feed him dinner. It was just so much easier. I thought to myself, I’d give it another go later…
Later it was… a year and MORE to be exact! Talk about procrastination, eh? Well when baby sister arrived last year, it was such a huge adjustment for him and me that I put it off completely for the entire year and it became a bad habit (for him and mommy)! So when things settled in more this year and his tantrums subsided drastically I decided to try again (God forbid that I should still be feeding him when he reaches 5! And I’ve to set an example for his little sister).
As he just learnt some basic time telling skills, I told him that he had to complete his dinner by 8pm (he starts at about 7pm) and if he complete it by 7.30pm he’d get to eat some potato chips (his favourite snack). The first day he ate reaaally slowly, past 7.30pm and at 7.45pm he was still plodding along. I had planned to just use the “carrot” without the “stick” to motivate him but at 7.50pm I was losing my patience and I said, if you don’t finish by 8 o’clock in 10 minutes time, you’ll have to go to your naughty corner! Lo and behold he chomped down whatever remaining food in 5 minutes!
Still I wasn’t satisfied with this so called “success”. Then I remembered the timer idea. I bought one that looked somewhat like a clock, explained it to Hubby-jr and set it at 35 minutes and put it in front of him. If he finished his meal before it rang, he’d get his chips, otherwise no. And if he didn’t complete his meal by 8pm he’d have to go sit in his naughty corner. It worked! It’s been a week and he’s been finishing his meals before 35 mins! He feels a sense of accomplishment and is very happy to get his chips! Me? I can’t tell you how happy I am to not have to feed him anymore!
So using a timer and a carrot-stick approach worked for me! For other ideas head over to Rocks In My Dryer.