The Dinnertime Battle :: Finally a Light at the End of the Tunnel


When my boys were toddlers, they’d eat whatever I put in front of them. Fruit, vegetables, meats, pasta … it didn’t matter what it was, they’d eat it. And boy was I glad for that!

But somewhere along the way, things changed. They started to get pickier about what they ate. It started with vegetables, of course. No more broccoli, or carrots, or corn. Then, my boys ventured out and decided they’d refuse other foods as well. Chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, casseroles. All of a sudden it was, “I don’t like that,” and “Do I have to eat it?”

And so the dinnertime battles began… 

Like any good mom, I did my best to get my kids to eat what I made. But, rather than dealing with a fight at dinner every night, I decided to try a different approach. I started trying to hide vegetables in meals. It worked at first but soon enough they figured it out. They started to notice the subtle difference in taste and became suspicious. The jig was up. 

Back to the drawing board, I went.

I wish I could tell you that at this point I came up with some brilliant plan to get my children to eat what I made for dinner and never complain. Wouldn’t that be something? To have children who just ate what you served them. Every. Single. Time. No more dinner struggles. Just a peaceful meal where everyone ate all the wonderful food you prepared. 

Sorry. I stepped into my dream world for a moment there. Let’s get back to reality now. 

What I ended up doing was this: NOTHING. 

Yep. That’s right. I ended up not trying anything else. No more veggie hiding. No more trying to make a deal with them (“If you eat this, you can have some ice cream.”). I just gave in and made them something different. I’d make one meal for my husband and me, and one for the boys. 

Did I and do I still enjoy that? Not really. Is it fun to have to plan for two meals each night? Not at all. But is it easier than dealing with children who whine and complain about dinner every night? ABSOLUTELY. 

Recently, there’s been a new development in our dinnertime situation. 

My oldest turned 10 in November, and ever since then there’s been a gradual change in him. All on his own he’s started to try more foods. He’ll walk into the kitchen while I’m cooking and tell me how delicious it smells. Then at dinnertime, he’ll look at me and say, “Hey mom, I think I want to try what you made tonight.” And, miracle of all miracles, he’ll actually try it. And ENJOY IT! Then, he’ll give me this sly grin and say, “It’s not bad, Mom. Guess I can try more stuff from now on.” 

More and more he is trying new foods, and eating what I make for dinner, and he’s doing it almost every single night. And let me tell you, it’s glorious! Now, instead of making two full meals, I’m making one main meal and a smaller (easier) one for my seven-year-old. Things like mac ‘n cheese, fish sticks, pasta, hot dogs; things I can make pretty quickly. 

My older son has given me hope for my younger son. There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m almost there! Just three more years…three more years until my youngest is 10 and hopefully starts to eat what I make without arguing. Or, if I’m lucky, maybe it’ll happen before he turns 10. I can always hope…

How do you deal with the dinnertime battle? What tips do you have?


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