Yesterday was probably the worst day of parenting that I have ever experienced. Before I delve into the details, let me give you a bit of backstory. Joycelen has NEVER been a big fan of vegetables. Even as an infant, she gravitated to fruits, dairy, and protein over veggies. Early on, friends and family assured me this was normal, so I did not press the issue. When she transitioned to table food, the dislike of vegetables remained…..then she turned 2 and began to refuse to eat anything other than chicken nuggets, yogurt, milk, cheese, strawberries and bananas. I worried at her limited food choices but was assured by her pediatrician that it was fine – she was exceeding all of her developmental milestones, was at an appropriate height/weight for her age, and that her eating habits would change again.
Now she is rapidly approaching age 4 (how did that happen) and I have noticed another sharp decrease in her food choices, and she still refuses to eat a vegetable. After a lengthy discussion, Micheal and I decided to institute the 1 bite rule. Joycie has to try 1 bit of a new food after day. We sat down with Joycie explaining to her that she needed to eat a variety of foods so that she could grow-up big and strong, and she agreed to try a green bean at Sunday lunch. Well, Sunday lunch came, and Joycie staunchly refused to even taste the lone green bean I offered. As her refusals continued, I felt my frustration rise and pretty soon in a moment of angry, I told her that since she refused to eat her green bean she would not be going to dance class.
And the tears began…..
Then came the stomping of feet….
And pretty soon a full on tantrum….
Of course, this managed to do nothing to help my frustration levels. Somehow, we made it thru the rest of lunch and returned to our home (did I mention all of this transpired in front of our extended family) where Joycie went down for a nap, and I crumbled into a pile of tears in Micheal’s arms. After a good cry, Micheal and I figured out how to extract myself from the corner that I painted myself into.
When Joycie woke up from her nap, I apologized for my behavior and told her that I wanted her to be able to go to dance but that I also wanted her to learn to like new friends. I assured her that I would never force her to eat something she truly disliked but that she could not say she did not like something if she never tried it. I explained that at dinner she would be able to choose the new food she wanted to try and if she took a bite then she would be able to attend dance.
Joycie agreed and at dinner chose to try a green bean. She picked out the green bean she wanted to try, bit into it — and GAGGED! I tried to encourage her to quickly swallow it done with a drink of tea but the gag reflex was too strong. But she tried, so she is going to dance class later today.
However, I am left wondering how I can expose her to new foods without tears and gagging at ever meal. Then again, should I even be concerned about this right now? Any of you Moms with advice/tips/suggestions? I want to do what is best for Joycie but at this moment I am not sure what that even is….