View Full Version : NO! MORE! NO! MORE! (long....)

04-14-2004, 04:50 PM
I apologize for the subject line, I'm just paraphrasing Elijah's latest fun game at dinnertime (or anytime we are eating!). Please note that this is written with lots of love in my heart for my wonderful son, and a little bit of sarcasm...I just don't know what to do about this behavior.

He will ask for a certain kind of food, usually yogurt since he has a one-track, yogurt-obsessed mind these days. If it is OK for him to have it (that is, if it is breakfast time, healthy snack time or if he has finished his dinner, and the yogurt will be dessert) I'll say, OK, and he will make the "crocodile tears" face and pitifully say "gogurt" over and over while I take forever (1 minute!) to get the yogurt and the spoon and peel the top off. Then, the second the spoon hits the yogurt, he starts in with "NO! NO! NO!" and hiding his face. He doesn't want to see the yogurt, he doesn't want to know anything about it...so I say, "OK, I'll put it away. Bye bye, yogurt!"

Instantly, he is crying, "MORE! MORE! MORE!" and adding in a few sad "Gogurt!"'s for effect. The first time this happens, I say, "Oh, you DO want some yogurt? OK..." and again, the second the spoon hits the yogurt, it is back to screams of "NO" because everyone knows that yogurt=pain and suffering.

I repeat my line about putting it away, and I do, adding that when he is ready, he can ask nicely for the yogurt...and then the tears really start to fall, and yogurt, poor yogurt, my son's one true love is lost to him (and he does say and sign "peesh!"...so out it comes from the refridgerator, and this time when the spoon hits the yogurt he is ready and he practically inhales the entire 4 oz of Yo Baby goodness, saying "gogurt!" happily after every bite, smacking his lips, and in general being as happy as it is possible to be while eating a container of yogurt.

I know, I know...he is a toddler, he likes being in control, he likes saying "no," I am the parent, I have to set limits...but please help! What am I doing wrong? Should I put it away and not offer it again after the first time he says no? Should I let him have a little power since he is so reasonable about most other things? Should I worry that he is so obsessed with yogurt that he would rather eat it than anything else, and that includes candy which I have ACTUALLY OFFERED him in an attempt to see if he would eat something other than 4 more oz of yogurt on one particularly bad day (it was a good day for Stoneyfield Farm).

04-15-2004, 02:29 AM
I know when you are in the middle of this behavior it is so difficult, but from a distance, I have to say, honestly, I'd just feed him what he will eat, right now. I'm sure you know the Mom-mantra, 'pick your battles'. I have chosen not to make food a battle, ever. Too much stress for me and I think it causes more problems in the end. Mind you, I'm not talking about allowing an 11 year old to only eat potato chips. But a toddler is a different story.

I have spoken to my doctor about it and her feeling is as long as my daughter (now, 31 months) remains healthy (growing appropriately, no vitamin deficiencies, etc.), let this type of thing go. I would ride it out. He won't be asking for "gogurt" for his graduation dinner; surely, he will phase out of it. I have seen my daughter phase in and out of several things. I have also seen her go through a day or two of not really wanting to eat much and again, I just ride it out because inevitably, it is followed by a day or two of heartier eating.

As long as it is not a real safety issue (like him wanting to bang his head on the wall all day!), I'd try to take the pressure off yourself.

04-15-2004, 10:37 AM
ITA that I don't want food to be a battle--my concern is not so much that he only wants yogurt (believe me, when he asks, he usually gets it, especially since he is such a picky eater), but rather that he asks for it, and when I try to give it to him, he refuses it. When I put it away, he gets hysterical, but when I offer it again, he refuses it. He has to refuse it at least twice before he will eat it, even though he has asked for it in the first place. It is a very frustrating little dance and it is happening at every meal. I'm not sure how to handle this new behavior.

I thought that maybe he wanted to eat ithimself--he eats everything by himself except yogurt. But he gets absolutely hysterical when we give him the cup and spoon to feed himself. We've tried putting it in a bowl, and he refused to eat it (being fed by us or by himself).

It seems to be some kind of power struggle, and I'm not sure what to do to make mealtime work better.

04-16-2004, 10:16 AM
Yeah, that is more complicated than just a 'food battle'. I'm sure you've tried everything you can think of to avoid making mealtime this back & forth struggle so, forgive me if what I say makes you think, "been there, done that, still no difference."

I wonder if your DS is indeed wanting yogurt the first time he asks for it. I wonder if he's associating eating yogurt with some other pleasurable, desirable thing (like having Mom's full attention, like sitting in a certain seat, like being able to see something from the chair he can't when he's not, etc., etc.). Maybe you get the yogurt and in frustration he refuses a couple of times and then because he does, indeed, like yogurt, he takes it in some way to comfort himself over not being able to fully communicate what he wants.

I've seen that with my daughter. Her's is "juice, no juice." I do give her juice most of the time and it is fine but when the yes, no, yes, no starts, I usually end up holding her, speaking softly acknowledging whatever she says at the moment ("I understand you wnat juice."). Having my full attention, if she responds with "no, juice," I again acknowledge that, "I understand you don't want juice." I know it sounds ridiculous, but after a few of these, and a little distraction from me of something I know she likes (a tickle, something that makes her laugh), she's back to her old self, usually asking for juice in a little bit and taking it like normal.

For my duaghter, I think things like this are often born out of frustration about not being able to clearly communicate her true need/want. She grasps for what she does know ("juice") and sometimes further frustrates herself by watching Mom, not get it. I keep myself sane by thinking how I would feel if I didn't understand what I wanted exactly or couldn't communicate what I wanted to the only person who could provide it for me.

Thanks just my experience. I certainly wish you the best and encourage you that this (phase) too, shall pass!

04-16-2004, 11:07 AM
That is good insight, thanks. I hadn't thought of it that way--that he wants something, but doesn't know how to express it. We tried something new last night--instead of putting the yogurt away, we put it down on the table (he was in his booster seat) and put the spoon down next to it, and said, "Whenever you are ready to eat the yogurt, tell me and I'll open it for you." He held the cup, banged on it with the spoon a few times, and then said, "Ready!" And he ate it right away. I think you are right--sometimes he just needs us to acknowlege that he wants SOMETHING, even if he isn't sure what (or just can't tell us what).


04-18-2004, 09:55 AM
I second the whole 'communication' side of it. DD still has problems expressing the difference between Want and Don't Want. She is quick to start a tantrum over a misunderstanding. We can often head it off by saying, "stop...take a deep breath...use your words" Sometimes paraphrasing helps - "you want yogurt". A statement that she can then say yes or no too. Rather than "do you want yogurt?"

I think though, that you are doing a GREAT job. just the fact that you are keeping your temper throughout these episodes should say a lot!

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/2)