Being the bad guy

May 24, 2011 by Carrie Cherry
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A couple years ago I posted something on Facebook about how I spent the evening fighting with my toddler over vegetables. I expected sympathy from my mom friends. Instead I got a smackdown. “You need to learn to pick your battles,” one said. “Let it go,” another said. “You’re in for a fun life if you make a big deal out of that.”

Wow. I mean, Supernanny makes kids stay at the table until they’ve eaten their green beans. And she knows everything.

I would lie awake all night worrying my daughter wasn’t going to grow or thrive because she ate nothing with nutritional value. (Read: I was ticked off that I had made her her own special meal because I knew for sure she wouldn’t eat what we were having and thought, dang it, I stood in the kitchen and made this, you’re gonna eat it.)

But the comments got me thinking. Maybe I was being too hard on Julia. She was otherwise a really good kid. Why create drama over dinner? If she doesn’t want to eat, she doesn’t have to eat, I decided.

My newfound attitude carried over to other things. Screaming and hysteria when I tried to get her to drink out of a regular cup? Fine. Sippy it is. Surely, she’ll figure it out one day. She won’t drink beer out of one when she gets to college, right? I let it go.

Who needs tears over trying new foods? It’s just food. There are so many more important things to cry about.

This was fun. This was freeing.

This was stupid.

Because now, I have a 4½-year-old who hasn’t eaten a vegetable other than corn for two years. I have a 4½-year-old who still uses a sippy cup and doesn’t know how to drink out of a straw. I have a 4½-year-old who eats Eggos and yogurt for breakfast, noodles with butter for lunch and chicken for dinner – EVERY SINGLE DAY – for years.

Lesson learned here: Being a mom isn’t easy and sometimes there will be tears. But I have to trust my own judgment and teach the things I think are important. Even if it means being the bad guy. (Note to self: More Supernanny, less Facebook!)

So my goal this summer is to teach an old toddler some new tricks. We’re going to eat new foods and drink out of a cup. Maybe we’ll go crazy and try to master the elusive Capri Sun!

Wish me luck.

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23 Responses to “Being the bad guy”

  1. Katy BrownNo Gravatar says:

    I started supplementing with Sidekicks chocolate drinks — a type of Ensure for kids who are healthy, but won’t eat the right foods. It helps…but it’s expensive ($6.99 for 4).

  2. Leigh AnneNo Gravatar says:

    Is a 4 1/2 yr old still a toddler? I think you are definitely right that sometimes it’s a battle and we have to go through it so our children will grow. I have a 19 month who refuses ALL green foods. I thought, ALREADY?! This is a baby whose first food was Avocado, why won’t she eat these peas or green beans?!?! I still don’t know why but she will eat corn, beef, tomatoes & grilled squash. Trying new things will help!

    As far as the cup I’d go the Supernanny route and have a “fairy” come take ALL of the cups away and leave a little “prize” in it’s place in the middle of the night. If they aren’t there she can’t use them. Leave a decorated box and lots of confetti. Inside the box find the most adorable cup you can get your hands on and make a big deal about it being a special cup that is all her own. Get her involved in the process and maybe she’ll feel a little more in control. It stinks being a kid and having everyone just decide everything for you.

    Oh and add some fruit to her Eggo and that’s really not a bad breakfast at all!

    • CaraNo Gravatar says:

      That’s a fun idea for the cup! They have those awesome bright, bubbly cups at AC Moore or Michael’s, that have names on them. I’ve seen a mug and a goblet.

      I recently heard of a family that enforces the one bite rule. You must eat one bite of everything on your plate, then you can get up. It doesn’t have to be a huge bite, it can just be a smidge. I think it’s mostly psychological, just to show the children that they can eat peas and it doesn’t hurt them!

      You could also use little tricks, like sitting down with a spoonful of peas and a straw and eating them using the straw, making it sound as much fun as you can. Or using the most giant, colorful bowl you can find to eat some blueberries. Maybe it’ll pique her interest?

      • CarrieNo Gravatar says:

        I’m trying the one-bite rule. And I know my nutritionist friend would hate this because you’re not supposed to bribe with food, but if you don’t take that bite, you’re not gonna get a cookie later. No dinner, no dessert! I’m so mean.

    • CarrieNo Gravatar says:

      Nah, she’s not a toddler. I just don’t know what the right term is. Preschooler? Small person?
      That’s a great idea about the cups. I was thinking we’d just have to go cold turkey. That might make it more fun. Of course, I fret that she’ll go days without drinking anything, but I guess at some point they get thirsty enough…

  3. bradmcNo Gravatar says:

    All of our sippy cup lids have gone away through attrition — or, as I like to think of it, the We Don’t Know Where Stuff Went fairy.

    • CarrieNo Gravatar says:

      Yeah, I knew I was in trouble when Katie was at my house and she was dipping a cookie into a cup of milk and then drinking it.

  4. Marsha AubreyNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you again for another amazing article! I too am still struggeling w/ my 3 yr old son who doesn’t want to eat much at all these days but he has to have his sippy cut of Soy milk every hour on the hour! He too ate peas, green beans, squash, corn…all of the good stuff when he was a baby and I fed him myself, but now that he has to use his own fork and spoon, if it’s green or vegetable like, he won’t eat it. I thank GOD for noodles and smart balance lite butter and eggo blueberry waffles…and spoonfuls of penut butter. I am tired of worrying all night about his diet but have decided that since he loves fruit, that’s what we’ll go w/ for the time being. I’m trying all the tricks that are being posted…some work and some don’t. All I know in the end is that I am truly blessed to have Marshall in my life and I’ll continue to work with him on all this stuff that is supposed to be good for him. Oh, except for the potty…he will pee all day in the big boy potty but refuses to go poopy in the big boy potty…and for that, thank GOD MaMaw sends lots of big boy underware so we can keep trying!!!

  5. Karen McelhinnyNo Gravatar says:

    I think the sippy cup lids are in the black hole in our house
    With the ponytail holders and socks.

    Personally, I see sippy cups as more of a
    convenience for me than the kids.

    As for the how to get kids to eat new things, I am
    A fan of keep giving it to them to
    Try. It usually works. Except that brad still won’t eat

    • CarrieNo Gravatar says:

      Sippy cups are a convenience! No spilled juice on the floor. Or all over clothes. Or furniture. I better stock up on paper towels.

  6. Carrie NillesNo Gravatar says:

    We are a one bite family. Everything on your plate, one bite. It must be big enough that I can identify as being on your utensil. No molecules, bites. And I just keep making it. After 3 years the 11 year old finally will eat a potato. I also am a fan of hiding veggies a la Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. If you don’t eat enough food with nutritional value* you don’t get any after dinner sweets.

    *This is very loosely defined as we serve meals of hot dogs and boxed mac and cheese here.

    • CarrieNo Gravatar says:

      I wish I could get my kid to even take one bite of a hot dog and some boxed mac and cheese! haha
      I tried the Deceptively Delicious pureed squash on noodles a while back. I think she was fooled. I may have to try that again.

  7. bradmcNo Gravatar says:

    I think it’s possible that her dominant culinary genes come from the guy who lived without an oven for a decade.

  8. UhNo Gravatar says:

    Forcing a child to eat anything is just asking for an eating disorder. Are you crazy?

    How would you like it if someone forced you to eat something you didn’t want to?

    Children are no different than adults in that regard in that they will not enjoy food that is shoved down their throats. If they wanted to eat it, they would.

    Give a vitamin and let her fill her own plate. Punish her if she wastes food. Don’t keep junk around then wonder why that’s all she’ll eat. Give her a choice. If she doesn’t want to eat then she won’t. Let her choose from what you set out. Then that’s it. No eating a PBJ an hour later.

    Children need a sense of control as much as adults do.

    Or you could waterboard her with strained peas while you’re at it.

    • bradmcNo Gravatar says:

      Hey, you know that your IP address shows that you are both “Dog Lover” and “KeeKee,” right?

      So, I’m guessing you must realize that your comments are so mean and hateful that you have to change your name each time out?

    • CarrieNo Gravatar says:

      I’m not forcing her to eat or shoving food down her throat. I just want to expose her to new foods other than the five things she eats. She doesn’t eat junk, unless you count an occasional chocolate chip cookie. She’s never had ice cream, candy, cake, brownies, etc. It’s my fault. I make her the same things because I know she’ll eat it. I worried more about her being hungry than trying new foods. I’m just trying to give her some variety. You know, normal kid fare like grilled cheese.

    • Kara MooreNo Gravatar says:


  9. MonicaNo Gravatar says:

    I made all of my kids’ baby food — I never bought a jar of the stuff — and they ate everything from broccoli to lentils to spinach and fish.
    Then they got old enough to decide for themselves. And they became picky eaters.
    Guess what? At 23, my daughter will eat virtually anything and she will try anything once. And my 18-year-old son, the pickiest eater of all, is planning to go to culinary school.
    As long as new stuff is there and they see you enjoying it, they’re likely — at some point — to try it. Being around other kids and families helps, too.

    Meantime, and this is just a funny fact, my 90-year-old dad uses two sippy cups left behind by grandchildren for water.
    He’s lost his fine motor coordination in his right hand because of carpal tunnel and he can’t see well, so it’s just easier for him to keep that around. One is a SpongeBob Squarepants sippy cup!
    When he drinks wine and beer, though, it is with dignity — straight out of the bottle for beer, nice glass for the wine.

  10. Mrs. John MilnerNo Gravatar says:

    Uh, I’ve taken the liberty of rephrasing your hateful comments so it’s actually helpful to Carrie:

    If your child is sensitive to trying new things, forcing certain foods may cause more harm than good. We know how we feel when someone puts food on our plate that we don’t like. Children are little versions of ourselves; they like what they like.

    If I were you, I’d give her a vitamin and let her fill her own plate. If food goes untouched, then I would set clear expectations as to what happens next — there are consequences to every action. Also, I would make “junk” food more of a treat as opposed to an option or a last ditch effort; a reward for eating well. If not, that’s all there is. As a parent, we have to stay in control. You still may have a meltdown, but at least you gave her the right to fill her own plate.

    Or, if all else fails, you could waterboard her with strained peas. ; )

    See Uh? It’s now what you say; it’s how you say it. You get more with honey than vinegar. Bullying won’t be accepted by anyone at any age.

  11. Katy BrownNo Gravatar says:

    Karan Ireland!! We need you in the Mosh Pit!!

  12. Nanya FriendNo Gravatar says:

    I still have sippy cups and my kids are in their 20s. I finally got rid of the lids, but that was well after they went off to college. What’s wrong with that? I agree they’re great for the car, especially for me! I’m a slob. Here’s one idea for getting Julia to eat: Is she a juice drinker? My daughter loved juice when she was little and was guzzling it regularly but not eating. Her doctor suggested I cut back on the juice, to let her have it only after meals. I tried that and her eating improved. What’s more, she usually didn’t ask for the juice after meals. We pretty much did away with it. I peeled, quartered and cored fresh apples nearly every day for my kids. If I just put the apple pieces in front of them while I prepared other foods, they tended to eat them. I also would clean strawberries and place a bowl on the table next to a small bowl of powdered sugar. They loved to dip the strawberries in the sugar and eat them. Once I joked with my son about eating carrots with ketchup. He decided this was a good idea and ate them that way for years. I could go on like this, but the point is try one thing and then another. Some will work and some won’t, but if you keep offering nutritious foods, I bet she’ll be just fine.

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