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Battle of the breakfast

(53 Posts)
grannyactivist Tue 16-Dec-14 12:18:39

I'm staying with my daughter for a couple of weeks to help out with children as my grandson's school finishes stupidly early for the Christmas holidays and her work does not. Yesterday daughter gave grandson (aged almost 5) weetabix for breakfast and then he decided he didn't want it. The usual pattern is for him to then mess about until his mother (who is rushing to leave for work) loses patience and tells him he can leave the table without eating what he's been given. However, I intervened and told him that his mummy was going to work and having asked specifically for weetabix he could jolly well sit at the table until it was eaten. Daughter looked at my (scowling) face and told GS that "Granny's in charge" and scootled off to work. There really should have been High Noon music playing in the background as battle lines were drawn. I explained to grandson that because he'd asked for weetabix and because I know he likes it that he would have to stay at the table until it was eaten. He explained that he really didn't want it so he wasn't going to eat it. No fuss, no tantrums; just two implacable wills facing off over the breakfast table. After an hour of sitting at the table grandson said he might eat a little bit of it if it had some more sugar; I gave him a little more sugar. He ate one spoonful. An hour later he said he might eat a little bit of it if it had some more milk; I gave him a little more milk. He ate one spoonful. Then later still he said he might eat a little bit of it if it was warm; I nuked it in the microwave for a few seconds. He ate two spoonfuls. All this time he was quite happily sitting at the table humming to himself and chattering (I was mostly in the next room listening to him and now and again calling out encouragement to him to eat up) and a couple of times he got down to go to the loo. At about five to twelve he finally called me to say that he was going to eat his weetabix - and he did!!! For the rest of the day his behaviour was superb; lovely manners, lots of "I love you Granny"'s and he was a joy to be with.
This morning he asked for porridge for breakfast and told me that he was definitely going to eat it all up straight away - and he did! tchsmile
I wonder where other grandmothers have drawn the line - and what was the result?

tanith Tue 16-Dec-14 12:24:39

Honestly I wouldn't of had the patience , if he didn't want it then he could of gone hungry.
Never been in that position but I do think life is too short to make a child sit for hours over a bowl of breakfast cereal.

loopylou Tue 16-Dec-14 12:27:01

Admire you for your patience!

Lapwing Tue 16-Dec-14 12:33:12

Like Tanith I do not think I would have had the patience but I always made it clear to DGS that if he did not eat ALL his meals there would be no treats and it worked.

annodomini Tue 16-Dec-14 12:37:06

DiL had to go out and had left tuna pasta bake ready to be re-heated for the boys' tea. I sat them down and put the plates in front of them, at which they staged a strike. 'Don't want it'. 'Too bad,' I said. 'It's all there is for you.' After a few minutes they were still rebelling so I picked up the plates and headed for the food recycling bin. 'No, no, Granny! Don't do that!' And they ate it up - every bit. I can't say I always win a power struggle with the two of them ganging up, but that was a small triumph.

Elegran Tue 16-Dec-14 12:38:19

I don't think I would have given him FIVE Weetabix all at once to start with, though. Two at first, then more, one or two at a time, WHEN he had eaten the first helping. It does make him believe that wasting large helpings of food is OK - to pile his plate, then not eat it.

It takes time and patience to get it over to children that this is not acceptable behaviour.

Joan Tue 16-Dec-14 12:39:55

My friend (never married and no kids) and I are neighbours too, and a little lass age 6 who lives in the house between our two, has befriended us. I wrote a thread about her a while ago. Anyway, we were all in my friend's above ground pool, when she noticed little Harmony was wearing earrings. She told her to remove them as they might prick the plastic lining.

Sulky silence.
Pleas that she'd be careful.
More sulks.
Even more pleas
Even more sulks.

My friend stuck to her guns, and eventually the little lass took them off, and the stand-off was forgotten.

Sticking to your guns can be hard, but it is easier in the end. And better for the child.

grannyactivist Tue 16-Dec-14 12:40:33

tanith the problem is that when he's at my house he usually behaves very well, but recently because his daddy's away he's got into the habit of ruling the roost a bit at home and my poor daughter is finding his constant challenges difficult to deal with. As I said up there ^ he was quite happy to sit at the table humming and singing and carrying on conversations with me. If it had been something he didn't like or hadn't asked for I would have allowed him to leave it.

tanith Tue 16-Dec-14 12:42:49

Elegran it says the child is 5yrs not that she gave him 5 Weetabix grin

grannyactivist Tue 16-Dec-14 12:44:07

Elegran it was just ONE weetabix, not five.

tanith Tue 16-Dec-14 12:47:34

I see your point grannyactivist but I think just taking it away and letting him go hungry till lunch time would of made the same point rather than wasting a whole morning with both of you 'stuck' doing not very much at all. Well that is what I would of chosen to do anyway, I can't bear wasting time and am short on patience grin if it works for you then all well and good.

ninathenana Tue 16-Dec-14 13:14:11

No I wouldn't have had the patience either.

DD method is, if they've started eating they are given extra time to finish. If they are still refusing when the adults have finished it's binned.

I do try to encourage the younger one, 'just a little for nana' but if the five year old refuses, tough.

Anya Tue 16-Dec-14 13:28:09

I'd have insisted he ate one mouthful and then let him go hungry.

whenim64 Tue 16-Dec-14 13:41:02

I would have tried to get him to eat, then removed it and allowed him to get down from the table. Nothing else to eat till lunchtime, by which time he might feel like eating more.

One of my grandsons, 6, tries to engage me in these games and I tell him in words of one syllable that I am not playing. The food is there for eating - if he can't manage after two bites, that's fine - he can leave the table and look forward to his next meal. He's quick to return and eat more if he sees his twin brother eating something he fancies for dessert.

Coolgran65 Tue 16-Dec-14 13:48:04

I admire grannyactivist. The long 'stand off' wasn't just about the bowl of cereal (which dgs had specifically asked for). It was about boundaries and respect. IMO.

And it's unlikely she will ever have to do again, or at least not for so long.
Granny in charge, granny rocked. Well done.

Elegran Tue 16-Dec-14 14:08:02

I speedread it, GrannyA and attached the 5 to the Weetabix, not the child!

The daughter of a friend of a friend was a late first child, very much adored and indulged. My friend told me how she had been in their house and witnessed this -

Mother - "What would you like for tea, dear?
Child - "Umm - bacon"
Mother - There is no bacon in the fridge. Never mind, I will go to the shop for some."

Trip to the shop for a packet of bacon, which is opened and cooked.

Child - I don't want this"
Mother - "Well, what would you like instead?"
Child "Fish fingers"
Mother - I will have to go to the shop again"
Child "That's what I want"

Another trip to the shop, for fish fingers.

grannyactivist Tue 16-Dec-14 15:33:12

This incident was not about the food. It was about power and pushing boundaries and we both knew it. This same child's mother used to faff about every morning at about age 6/7(even though she was always up early) and not get dressed until the last minute. Finally I warned her that from the following day if she was not ready on time I would walk her to school in her pyjamas.
And I did. grin
From then on she never had a problem getting ready for school on time.

Fortunately my grandson doesn't hold grudges and is very pleased that he ate all his breakfast yesterday and we've had a lovely day today.

ninathenana Tue 16-Dec-14 15:46:27

DD has done the walk to school in your PJ's

Good on her, and you ga I'm not sure I'd have the conviction.

Anya Tue 16-Dec-14 16:05:06

There are more creative ways of dealing with this situation that allowing it to deveop into a power struggle and a head on clash of wills. After all who is the adult in this situation?
Children need to learn the consequences of their behaviour. The chances are the child will be hungry before too long. If they are not hungry then fair enough.
So long as the child has been warned the consequences of not eating the breakfast then they can expect no more food until lunch time.
End of.

Nonnie Tue 16-Dec-14 16:17:37

I think we all deal with such things in our own way but it is important that once you have made your pitch you stick to it.

DS and DiL have separated and DGCs behave totally differently with one than they do with the other and they are very young. Children very quickly know what they can get away with with different people and it is better that they learn what the boundaries are if the boundaries are consistent.

janeainsworth Tue 16-Dec-14 17:15:22

Ga Did you ever see Spring and Port Wine?
I too would have gone for 'you can leave the weetabix but nothing till lunchtime'. And stuck to it.
I'm not sure it's a good idea to make children lose face completely.
If you let them have a win-win outcome, rather than a win-lose, their dignity is still intact, but they will still have learned the hard way that their choices have consequences, and perhaps a little responsibility too.

rosequartz Tue 16-Dec-14 17:36:53

Well done GA. I may not have had the patience, I may have left him whilst I cleared up and washed the dishes, then given him one more chance to eat it before taking it away and then nothing until lunch-time.

I remember Spring and Port Wine. (However, the daughter who refused to eat the herring was pregnant as far as I remember grin)

annsixty Tue 16-Dec-14 17:49:23

JaneA that was always one of my favourite films. Was it a herring or a kipper the daughter wouldn't eat?

janeainsworth Tue 16-Dec-14 17:55:55

A kipper I think, Ann. That was the only way it could have lasted a weekgrin

ffinnochio Tue 16-Dec-14 18:34:25

gaI feel exhausted just reading about your battle of wills. My take on this would have been to sit at the table with him, eating my own breakfast happily and chattering. When I'd finished, I'd ask him once if he was 'finished'. If he clearly wasn't going to eat it, I'd have just cleared the table, chatting about the day ahead. All very matter of fact. I'd repeat it the following day, and so on. Nothing until lunch except drinks.
I wouldn't have engaged in all the extras.
Pleased he ate up all his porridge the following day.