13 April 2011

Stubborn, Meet Strong-Willed

I've been called stubborn on more than one occasion. Maybe I should let the laughter die down before I continue. So, I shouldn't really be surprised to have passed this trait along to my kids. To say that my kids are independent is an understatement. Especially little LR. She gives strong-willed a whole new meaning!

Case in point: She hasn't had a drop of milk since I took her bottle away more than two months ago and she had a 2 gallon a week milk habit. To her, milk comes from a bottle. If you take away the bottle, what's the point of drinking the milk. And so she drinks water and eats yogurt. Like I said, strong-willed is an understatement.

Needless to say, our stubborn little girl has been ruling the house lately. She wakes up hungry and demanding and we're supposed to 'guess' what's she's hungry for. One morning it will be string cheese, another it will be a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter topped waffle. All are healthy choices and I don't mind that she's inclined to any of these things, but what she'll eat changes every day. This morning, she might devour the banana and tomorrow morning, spit it out with a resounding, "Blech!"

And its not just happening at breakfast. What LR will eat changes by the hour and we've been stuck trying to figure out what its okay to put on the menu on any given day. Every meal is a challenge and we find ourselves bargaining and coercing her to eat something - anything! Why do we do this, you ask? The answer is because she sets herself wailing until we find the right food. Yes, she's playing us like the violin section of the orchestra, but try starting every day with a wailing toddler and see how quickly you cave.

This morning, I decided that I'd had enough. When she selected a string cheese from the refrigerator drawer, I was a little surprised as it was taken off the menu last week. Blech. But, after asking her again before I opened it, she assured me that she wanted to eat the string cheese. Of course, she changed her mind when it was unwrapped. Blech. And she started wailing. Just as G was bringing over boxes of cereal for her second selection, I put my foot down firmly.

Wailing just wasn't going to persuade me this morning. I knew that this was not the only meal of the day that would be a battle if I gave in. I also knew that there was no way she would actually starve herself and I've seen her inhale a string cheese in seconds, so its pretty likely that she actually LIKES it and is just demonstrating her power.

"No more choices," I said firmly. In other words, if you want to eat breakfast, LR, its going to be string cheese. She immediately wailed to G. She can sense that he's the nicer of the two of us. Even being relegated to the role of mean mommy wasn't going to make me budge this morning. I'm tired of the struggle at every meal. Its no longer about food. Its about control and I decided to take it back.

The wailing went on throughout breakfast with pleas of "Eat, eat!" She signed the word too, just in case we weren't understanding. It was as if she was saying, "You are starving your poor little girl, here! Someone please feed me!" Oh, it was hard, but I just kept reminding myself that it was also worth it.

Again and again, we directed her to the cheese. You have something to eat and you won't get anything else until you eat what you picked out. Finally, I asked her if she wanted me to cut it up for her. I think it was a way for her to save face, because she said yes even though she hasn't wanted it to be cut for her in months. So, I cut it up and one by one, she ate every piece. And then polished off a banana.

I feel like I may have won this round, but she might just be gearing up for a bigger fight tomorrow. Still, I know that its my job to be mean mommy sometimes and that in the end, she'll be happier if we stay in control, no matter how much she fights us on it.


  1. How did the next morning go?

  2. Actually, the next morning went well. She's been eating her breakfast ever since!