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How do you stop a child from throwing food away and not eating?
Family & Relationships / 11:06 PM - Tuesday July 17, 2012

How do you stop a child from throwing food away and not eating?

My nephew is 8yrs old and tonight we made sloppy joes and mac and cheese with peas on the side. My sister gave him a small portion as she was in fear he wouldn't eat it (as he usual doesn't eat what he's served) and he only ate half his mac and cheese and just sat their for 30 minutes.

The moment my sister went to the bathroom he tossed the sandwich away and told her he ate it. She looked in the trash as he has done this before in the past. She found the sandwich at the very bottom of the trash which means he buried it.

She has done everything in the past aside from making him eat it again after it's been in the trash which she is not willing to do. Is there any advice? My sister is really torn as to what she can do.

He even throws his lunch away at school and my sister didn't know for months. She found out because he forgot to toss it one day and the next day she went to make him lunch and found his lunch from the former day. That's when he told her he doesn't eat a lunch.

Any advice?

- Asked by Female, 29-35

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If you don't want to create a child with food issues, stop this nonsense.

When he is hungry he will eat. If he doesn't eat what is on his plate in 30 minutes, it gets picked up and he goes hungry.

He needs to learn to pay attention to his hunger signals. Right now you are entering into a can't win power struggle with an 8 year old. Stop. But no special foods, no snacks... Let him get hungry. He will learn... He wont' starve and you are not "abusing" him...

- Response by siouxzen, Female, Who Cares?, Los Angeles, Self-Employed

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I dont care if the child is crying saying he is starving. He is served what is served, and eventually, will eat it.

My pediatrician said that when parents cater to kids' food choices, they eventually will only eat THOSE items, because they know that no matter what is fixed, that they will get what they want because parents dont want the fuss and will give in.


Give equal smaller portions. I.e.the mac and cheese, give only a 1/4 what you would give, and same with everything else.

They will learn to eat everything they are served. This worked on my son, as I am a single parent, and NOW, as an adult, he eats every single food and is NOT picky.

They WILL NOT starve, die or get sick. The doctor said that eventually, they will eat what is served, because they cannot win the "power struggle" to get whatever they want. As long as they are drinking plenty of fluids, my doctor said a healthy child can even go up to 3 days on a food strike and not suffer any harm other than a temper tantrum.

If this isn't done, I am afraid it will continue to get worse, especially since he is ALREADY 8!!!

That doctors' trick cured my 3 year old in about 2 weeks.

- Response by Female, 46-55

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PS---As far as him hiding food and/or throwing it out, he should be punished.

For crying out loud, HE IS 8 YEARS OLD!!! He's not a toddler who does not know right from wrong!!!

That boy has his Mom wrapped around her finger. And he will continue to do it (and other things that she may not be aware of) as long as he knows that Mom really won't do anything harsh---like take away all video games for a week and no friends calling/coming over.

Until Mom sets rules and limits, and he can accept responsibility, Mom has no power over him. He will continue to do whatever he pleases and Mom will continue to give in to him.

(Also make sure he is not grazing in the kitchen between meals and also getting snacks at friends. That can be controlled by keeping him home and not allowing him to go to friends or to the store after school...)

- Response by Female, 46-55

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Kids know whether their hungry or not..does he throw it away because he is not hungry or he has a way to buying what he likes for lunch or get in the cupboard later at home and snacks..if that is the case limit the snack foods and talk to his teacher about his lunch..I had a Dr. tell my Mom once for my youngest brother who did this..He said if he eats cerial for all three meals then let him eat cearial..She needs to find something healthy that he will eat and stick to it..Give it a try..;.]

- Response by cjs1991, Female, 46-55, Teaching

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You're stuck in a control battle. You need to let go. As frustrating as it is and you want to buckle down on him because you are in your mind just providing for his healthy developement, you are stuck however... you're both dying on this hill... and it's failing because he's feeling increasingly controlled and like he's got no power and no say... kids his age go in phases where you just don't see them eat much... they don't... and yet they're fine... if he gets hungry enough, then he'll eat... let him help make dinners and pick out more of what you guys eat... let him make some decisions too... and let him make his own lunch or buy it at school.... this is not about the food or the actions you are seeing... this is about the underlying issues of powerlessness and control... I will HIGHLY recommend you start counseling... like.. NOW.. go to some family counseling sessions with the sole purpose of improving your home environment... to you it seems like silly little things and that he just needs to listen and do as he's told and how dare he, etc... it seems like such a little thing compared to what you face and hear in the daily news and understand about the world and things... BUT.. to HIM.. it IS the world.. it IS all... and if you don't validate that from his perspective you just undermine and you further erode his inner self and child... when he grows up he'll act out on this and will have issues in his relationships... this is bigger than you realize and you MUST take action to work on this with him... it's about you/mom and him.... and how you two interact and the dynamic at work... remember... this IS his only childhood... you get ONE shot at it... and that's it... it's short... goes fast... and he can't/you can't.. get a do over... so you HAVE to work every day to try make this better... he only gets one childhood.. you brought him in to it... your job is to make it as magical and wondeful and safe and supportive as possible... there are underlying issues here not being dealt with and a counselors office is the absolute BEST place for you to hash this out... Best wishes... don't delay this.. just do it.

- Response by timeforanoverhaul, A Father Figure, Male, 36-45, Managerial

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My grandson used to be like that with all the meals that were served to him..We worried that he wasnt getting proper nutrition,and all the vitamins that he needed.

He was taken to his pediatrition,and she told his parents that as long as he was taking vitamins,that there was nothing to worry about. He was skinny as a rail,and looked 'sickly' all the time.

He turned out fine,as he is 19 now,and still skinny as a rail,and does have the same eating habits that he had as a child,but he is healthy and fine.

She dont need to worry. Have the child take vitamins and he should be fine. Most kids will eat when they are hungry. Have healthy food around for him to eat when he does finally get hungry.

- Response by tudorcat, Female, 56-65, Columbus, Home Maker

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well unless he is mal-nutritioned, don't let him have anything else. hopefully she doesn't give him snacks as he might be hungry between meals.

- Response by pepperman46, A Mr. Nice Guy, Male, 46-55

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I'm going through a little bit of this with my daughter. She asks for things to eat and then doesn't eat it or doesn't eat much of it and then doesn't want it anymore. I quit letting her throw the food away. I make her leave it on the table. It's always the same thing. 10 minutes later she's saying she's hungry and she wants ice cream or something like that. I tell her to finish her food or she's not getting anything else. Sometimes she does,sometimes she doesn't but if she doesn't,she gets nothing. She won't starve.

- Response by misskitty420, Female, 29-35, Student

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If he doesn't want to eat, then don't make him eat. Are they eating Mac and cheese themselves? If not, then they shouldn't bother to make it for him either as there's no reason a kid should be able to dictate to parents what they have to eat unless it's for health reasons or for sports' reasons.

Don't have any snacks around the house. 99% of snacks are bad for you and if he's not eating those, he may well eat what he's supposed to eat. On another note, have the parents done any research on nutrition? How much fat is in these foods? What's the nutritional content? Are the parents heavy? If so, why don't they take it as an opportunity to change their diet for the better also.

- Response by patresi, An Intellectual Guy, Male, Who Cares?, Who Cares?

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If he is hungry he will eat.

If he is not hungry, he should not have to eat anything. That is why we have fat kids in this country. We push too much food on them.

She should make the food available and if he is hungry - he will eat.

Nothing should be done here, other than ceasing to force something on him, that should not be.

What is the difference really... whether he just leaves it on his plate or he tosses it. Isn't the end result the same?

- Response by randyl, Female, Who Cares?, Technical

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