Battleground: Dinner

I remember supper with my family being a time of conversation, jokes, discussions, sharing and just basically a social time. 

Supper in our home has become a battleground four nights out of seven each week, with Harry and I threatening, encouraging and overall banging our heads on the table trying to get Mac to eat. 

Here's the thing: He eats a decent breakfast and lunch no problem. I know he's hungry for supper because prior to us making a stand and demanding he eat the meals prepared for him, the second his little feet would hit the floor he'd have his head in the fridge asking for yogurt, a hot dog, an apple, some cheese, milk... pretty well anything that wasn't included in the meal. This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue with me and Harry and I disagree over how to deal with it.

Harry's Way: Serve Mac a small portion of the meal that we KNOW he can finish. Then, require him to sit at the table until it is gone. No playing, no going outside NOTHING until the food is gone.

Pro: He learns to eat what is put in front of him.

Cons: The whining. OHHHHHH the whining, which I believe I've previously stated is something neither Harry nor I tolerate well. Which leads to threatening. Which leads to yelling. Which leads to more whining. 

Summery: Eventually the food disappears, but the process is emotionally exhausting and stress inducing, with both my husband and I ending up in a a foul mood.

My Way (AKA what my mommy suggested): Serve Mac a small portion. If he refuses to eat and won't sit at the table, cover the plate with plastic wrap, put it in the fridge, and make him sit in his room until supper is over. (The reasoning with the "time out" is that dinner is family time: if he chooses not to take part, he shouldn't be off somewhere playing.) Once dinner is over, resume regular activity. If he asks for food, offer him only what was served for dinner, reheated.

Pro: I don't think it's right to FORCE a person to clean their plate, especially when they aren't in charge of choosing their portion size. I think that leads to people over eating and obesity. This gives Mac the ability to choose what he wants to do with us still remaining in control.

Cons: THE WHINING. The second his feet hit the floor he is asking for different foods. When he is told no, this leads to "the voice" that frays my nerves. The whining usually leads to threatening or punishment.

What irritates me about this whole thing is that I know it's a power play on Mac's part. (I'm sure psychologists would disagree and tell me that a child that age is not capable of strategizing, to which I would eloquently reply "THBPPPTT!!!" (that's suppose to be a fart noise). I know that he is hungry, which is demonstrated by his immediate desire for food after we take his meal away. He refuses food that I know he likes, which means it's not because he DOESN'T like it. He is not really a fussy eater, since he ate EVERYTHING we served him with gusto until about two months ago. I've also noticed that when he's had a chance to play outside a lot, or expend a lot of energy, he eats a lot better. It's like he doesn't have the energy to put into fighting me. Basically, I'm annoyed because at this point I feel that he is winning and he knows it. Which makes him smarter than me. Which is not OK. And I also dislike that supper has become a negotiation.  

SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!! Any ideas? Should I just make him try at least a bite of each food on his plate than let him leave? Should I stick to my plan? Should we do my husbands?  Should we starve him until he would be grateful to eat cardboard? (OK, I'm kidding about the last one). Any suggestions would help!! Because pretty soon the title of this post will be Dinner: Mission Impossible! AKA "Why is mommy drinking the grape juice that smells funny?"
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