My stepsons eat slowly. While desperate not to give them issues over food, the husband and I also recognise aspects as being a control method. Some time ago I realised the eldest seemed to relish his father’s attention telling him to eat up and stop messing about. My solution was the introduction of half an hour of time that is just for the two of them after the youngest has gone to bed. I’m tough on bad behaviour but am determined never to punish sad behaviour. This boost of one to one time has seen a lot of naughty for attention actions (by my interpretation) disappear.

A recent initiative is two small alarm clocks minus batteries. They start the weekend with 30 minutes and can earn additional minutes by eating their tea within 30 minutes, tidying their rooms etc. The time earned is spent on the computer or Xbox. It’s early days but seems to be working. It takes the husband and I out of the equation to a large degree as the boys can choose to eat sensibly or not, earn computer/Xbox time or not.

Today the youngest managed it and the husband took him off to watch TV while I cleared up. The eldest took another 25 minutes. We had a brief talk where I said he didn’t have to eat absolutely everything but we had to make him eat something. I reminded him that I have always said that if he has requests then I’ll cook what he’d like but that our meal this evening wasn’t something new; it was something he’d eaten before and liked.

He didn’t contradict me. He just sat there thinking and pushing rice and peas around his plate.

“I think it’s just luck.”


“I think it’s just luck what I’ll decide I want to eat.”

“That doesn’t help me plan does it sweetheart?”

“No Kay.”

And he speared the last piece of bacon and put it in his mouth.

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