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Grandparenting

toddler tantrums

(38 Posts)
etheltbags1 Fri 15-Jan-16 19:53:19

please would someone advise me, this is not a wind up. My DGD has been behaving very strangely. She had just started nursery after xmas and is becoming very self assured. However she will not eat at times, what ever I give her she only picks at, I find myself trying 5 different meals to get her to eat, she will happily eat chocolate or pudding or cake which I try not to give her but I think its better she eats rubbish rather than nothing at all I cant bear her to starve. The other gran says the same. Today she refused her dinner and started to scream, for an hour she screamed and began to cough I thought she was ill and rang DD to make an apt at the doctors, she couldn't get an appt. so I took her home a bit earlier. When in the car she began to chat as normal and giggle and my daughter got angry, she said it was only hysteria and that there was to be no tea for her, just bed. She says she has had enough of her not eating and in future if she wont eat then she will do without.

I am upset at my little girl going hungry I had thought that DD might make her favourite food and tempt her to eat , I really thought DGD was ill. I have been told I spoil her but childhood is so short I want to please her and give her happy memories. How do I deal with tantrums, also I want her to love me so I don't want to be strict. Help

Daddima Fri 15-Jan-16 20:00:43

Oh dear.

Children love attention, and learn very quickly that eating ( or rather, not eating) is a great way to get it.

Trust me, she will not starve. Put down one meal, if she doesn't eat it, remove it without comment.

It sounds like she is very much in control!

etheltbags1 Fri 15-Jan-16 20:06:20

I thought it was good to give them attention, I encourage her to dance and sing to us and we clap and praise her, this is to boost her self esteem.

Is this not enough that she has to get more attention by not eating.
Im so upset, she ahs been worse since starting nursery which she loves.

Jalima Fri 15-Jan-16 20:08:09

hmm When my DC were small, DS had a very good appetite (always and still has!). However, the little girl next door would eat nothing - apparently. If she didn't eat her breakfast then her mum would give her a bag of crisps at 10.30 because she worried she had had nothing. Then, of course, she wouldn't eat her lunch and so on.
She asked if the little girl could come in and have lunch with my DS and, if she saw him eating, she might eat too. I did say, don't give her anything in between meals except fruit and a drink. I don't think she ever ate much, but grew up fine (she is a headmistress now).

It sounds as if your DGD knows full well how to 'press everyone's buttons', however, I don't think she should go to bed without anything, even a bowl of her favourite cereal and milk, or bread and butter and a drink of milk.
I would feed her her favourite (healthy) meal every day for the time being (does she like spaghetti bolognaise?) until she got sick of it and wanted something different.

If she screamed for an hour that's probably why she ended up coughing. Ignore tantrums, just keep an eye on her to make sure she is safe! The twos and threes can be a trying time, but it's no good punishing them for having a tantrum, they are just expressing their frustration and can't articulate how they are feeling.

MamaCaz Fri 15-Jan-16 20:14:24

When my own children were little, my reaction would have been exactly the same as your daughter's.

It's not quite as easy as a grandparent, I agree, but I still won't let me DGC (3 and 4.6) dictate to me what they eat. Obviously, I won't try to make them eat something that they quite clearly find repulsive, but when they only pick at something that they have eaten on other occasions, there is no way that I am going to offer them an alternative. The DGDs have tried it on with me a lot over the last year or so but now know that there's what I've made them or nothing! If they decide that it's going to be nothing, I know that they weren't hungry enough for it to matter! I honestly don't think that they are going to love me any the less for being 'strict', as long as I'm consistent too and they know the rules.

Jalima Fri 15-Jan-16 20:25:10

I will accept that they don't like certain foods, but that can vary from day to day!
And sometimes they can go off their food, perhaps if they are sickening for something and you don't realise at the time.
I have noticed that they will go through phases of eating well then picking at their food - usually eating well precedes a growth spurt.
And often an adult can over-estimate the appetite of a small child.

Sometimes they like bits and pieces of healthy food laid out in the middle of the table so that they can help themselves instead of food put on the plate for them (grated cheese, ham, chopped peppers, cucumber, small tomatoes cut in half, grapes - cut in half! etc).

rosesarered Fri 15-Jan-16 20:31:59

Try not to worry Ethel this sounds like classic toddler muscle flexing,I think your daughter is quite right.If she learns to wrap adults round her little finger she would grow up a spoilt brat, it needs nipping in the bud!Children that age don't allow themselves to starve.

Jalima Fri 15-Jan-16 20:35:58

Just wait until she's 7 and Knows Everything!

MamaCaz Fri 15-Jan-16 20:39:27

At the moment, my two will often not eat any cooked vegetables with their dinner. However, I've discovered that they will happily eat lots of them still raw, before the meal is ready so I let them have as much as they want at this stage (they seem to think it is a treat!), then just put a little bit of cooked veg on their plates and pretend not to notice if they don't eat it.

etheltbags1 Fri 15-Jan-16 21:03:20

Up to now Ive solved everything with a cuddle but she now pushes me away, I respect this but I still want to be 'loving gran'. Im at my wits end.
btw, DD said tonight out of the little ones hearing that she would give her something before bed, she has since reported that shes off to bed and fast asleep. (big sigh of relief).

midgey Fri 15-Jan-16 21:10:08

Harden your heart Ethelbags! Small children soon learn how to manipulate those who love them so dearly!

annodomini Fri 15-Jan-16 21:21:31

Meal times and bedtimes are the major opportunities for a toddler - and older children - to exert control over adults. I think it was in my Dr Spock book that I read that no child will ever voluntarily starve itself and have found that this is true. If a child refuses to eat what you put in front of her, take it away, but don't let her get down from the table and don't let her bring toys or books to the table at mealtimes: best if you have your meal at the same time so that she can see that this is the case. When they're older they will try to smuggle phones and tablets to the table, so if they learn at an early age that the table is for food, they may not be so anti-social later on. hmm

Deedaa Fri 15-Jan-16 21:24:55

Honestly ethelshe won't stop loving you if you are firmer about meals. It comes under the heading of "This is how we do it in Granny's house". Make something she normally likes and if she doesn't eat it take it away without any big fuss. Perhaps offer a piece of fruit instead but don't go any further than that.

Do you think she's actually getting rather tired now she's going to nursery? Being overtired does encourage bad behaviour. Perhaps she could do with a nap rather than a meal.

Greenfinch Fri 15-Jan-16 21:33:28

Sound advice Deedaa.

trisher Fri 15-Jan-16 21:42:25

I feel for youethel my DGD was acting up when I saw her yesterday and my DS was disciplining her, I so wanted to step in, but I know she is a strong-willed little girl and if she is allowed to rule the roost she will do, and it is my DS and DIL who have to live with her, so I stepped back. I'm afraid you have to harden your heart, cut out the pud and cakes and offer healthy foods. If she refuses these she has to go without. I do think if you are not careful you will have a situation where she plays you and the other GPs off against her parents. You could offer other rewards for eating, my DGD loves stickers, or when she is dancing say something like "I think you were better than ever today it must be those carrots/fruit/cheese you ate." Good luck and stay strong. (DGD was fine after much protesting and loves her daddy very much-children actually like boundaries. The world is a scary place without them)

annodomini Fri 15-Jan-16 21:55:43

Another idea: is she old enough to 'help' you in the kitchen when you are preparing lunch? She might be more attracted to her food if she is either watching or taking a hand in it.

Coolgran65 Fri 15-Jan-16 22:41:15

I am quite firm with behaviour and use the naughty step when necessary. One 4 yr old has a will of iron but a spell on the naughty step until he calms and says sorry definitely works for me. We don't give in to the tears and nose stuff dripping off his chin. When he calms and says sorry we all hug and it's over.

He loves us and at home time wants to stay longer.

Not eating a meal which I know he normally eats = no treats. Nothing else is offered.

Boundaries are vital, it won't stop her loving you. flowers

NanaandGrampy Fri 15-Jan-16 22:45:45

Our little ones get served a meal that we have discussed in advance. So they will come to the fridge and we will have a look in and then we build a meal around their preferences. For the older ones , they know that they will not get anything else if they eat no dinner. I'm not a believer in either cajoling 'one more bite' or saying 'you must eat everything'. But it is clear that all the nice stuff does not get offered until a decent stab at the main course has taken place.

With the little ones, they often help me cook or lay the table . We always eat with them and that's when we chat about stuff. Often they eat without realising.

The one rule we do have is that there is no 'grazing' . Snack time is at 10:30 and 15:00 and we have a little clock that says so. Im super lucky in that all 4 of my DGC will eat any fruit going , so I always have a selection for them and as long as they have some fruit as a snack they can also take a chocolate biscuit or crisps.

We have a saying in our house = we don't negotiate with terrorists :-) so if anyone wants to have a melt down ( including DH) its off to the naughty step whilst we get on with something super exciting. Its amazing how quickly a tantrum will stop when starved of attention and when something FAR more exciting is going :-)

Good luck !!

Nelliemoser Fri 15-Jan-16 23:30:44

Do not start offering a choice unless you know there is something she reaelly detests. Find out what she will eat.

As far as possible make sure she eats what the rest of the household are eating, or if it's a snack tea a sandwich or such. Offer a limted choice. "We have cheese, ham or egg which would you like and if she chooses one but then rejects it tough.
Ignore tantrums don't try to reason with her in the middle of one. be matter of fact. Just say something like, "I am not going to talk to you when you're making that silly noise come and talk to me when you have finished." and try to go away yourself as long as she is somewhere safe.

My DGS is being a threenager at present and I think my daughter is being a bit too nice with him when he is having a tantrum.
Right now I am tempted to talk to DD about not engaging with him when he is having a melt down. With such a strategy you need to expect the behaviour to get worse until they realise you are not putting up with it. Above all stay calm.

etheltbags1 Sat 16-Jan-16 09:04:08

I will try to take the advice I have read, it all makes sense but I have seen my DD almost in tears when the little one will not eat. She says there will never be any more children.
Don't get me wrong DGD is lovely she regularly gets rewards from nursery for good behaviour and I can take her out to someones house where she will be sooo good and of course everyone offers a toddler a biscuit which she loves so there are no tantrums. I will just have to be stronger and more assertive with her.

grannyqueenie Sat 16-Jan-16 09:24:36

Sometimes when they have started a new activity like nursery or school they are extra tired when they come home. It's as if working out the rules and boundaries in an unfamiliar setting means they have run out of "good-ness" by the time they get home! As others have said clear boundaries are so important, without them children aren't sure who is keeping them on track, that can make them anxious and then they feel the need to step into the driving seat themselves....we wouldn't let them do that in an actual car would we!? Having said all that, it can be hard to get that balance between firm and kind with youngsters as well as not upsetting/offending their parents either....it's a minefield. Good luck grannies....and that includes me!

Alima Sat 16-Jan-16 10:06:00

These things do seem to be phases. We had never seen our DGS have a tantrum until he came to live with us. What an eye-opener! (I can honestly say I cannot recall our DDs throwing a wobbly like that so it was very new.) We were at our wits end at the time but looking back the tantrums were spread over only a few weeks then he was his usual lovely self again. There has been a big change in his short life, he is four in March. We have noticed over the last couple of weeks that sometimes he resorts to outright defiance, especially at bedtime. Very rude of him, we are trying to find a way through this one.(We think it may be because he spent extra time with his father over Christmas. He lets him go back downstairs after he has been taken to bed. He also has a TV in his bedroom there which his Mum disapproves of but cannot do anything about as it is all about the bloke being in control).

Wendysue Sat 16-Jan-16 13:10:50

I'm so sorry you're going through this ethelbags. I think you've gotten a lot of good advice here and I hope it helps. I want to add that I think part of the problem here is that you're watching DGD very often - probably cuz DD works? - even through her dinnertime. You want to be a fun GM, but when we take care of our DGC a lot, I think we have to do some disciplining. I watch my own DGC often, so I know how hard this can be for a GM. But my DD and I both agree that it's necessary.

That being said, IMO, it would be ok for you to offer your DGD her favorite foods, every time, for a while, as long as we're not talking about chocolate and other junk foods. I don't think either you or DD should make too much of it if she doesn't eat, If she's really hungry, she will.

I agree with you that attention is good - but the positive kind, like when she sings for you and so forth - not the negative kind, like when she won't eat.

Another thought - I don't know how many hours DGD is in nursery, but if she has lunch and snacks there, maybe she's truly not hungry at her usual dinnertime. Maybe it has to be adjusted? If DD is ok with it, maybe you can just wait until she says she's hungry for a few days and see where her new eating time may be? Just a thought...

etheltbags1 Sun 17-Jan-16 18:54:00

thanks again for the advice, DGD had a sleepover with me last night and was super, she always eats breakfast at my house and really tucks in so no probs and the night before she had a good tea. I can only assume that like someone said, she may have had a good snack at nursery and is not very hungry when I have her for lunch and the other night when she had total meltdown , I assume she was really tired out. DD says she slep for almost 10 hours. I feel that I am learning every day with her Im sure DD was not like this confused

rosesarered Sun 17-Jan-16 19:08:47

Each generation seems to have a more liberal upbringing than the last:I fear for the next generation!