Stop Dinin' Whinin'

by Brenna Stull | 2:23 PM in |

I can't think of many things more defeating than putting effort in to cooking a meal for my family and hearing the whines begin. I would rather be doing a hundred things other than cooking. Whining can quickly pull down the healthy motivation I've built up in my mind by thinking about how much this same meal would cost at a restaurant.

We need to stop the dinin' whinin', moms. How?

First, let's make every effort to give children a chance not whine.

Make the meal as appealing to children as possible.

Keep foods separate on the plate. From my experience, it seems the child's palate is much more inclined to foods that are eaten separately. For example, grilled chicken strips, bread, baby carrot sticks, cheese chunks, and apple slices. No fancy recipe books needed!

Establish some rules:

You might let the children know that they do not have to eat, but they must sit at the dinner table with the family and forego any snacks or desserts the rest of the night.
Another rule might be to say everyone must try at least two bites of every food on the menu.

In our home we give the children the option to make their own dinner if they don't like what I have prepared. The rule is that it may only consist of raw vegetables and fruits and a few other simple foods that they can prepare for themselves.

They usually end up with a plate of baby carrots, string cheese, handful of almonds, banana, and a boiled egg. (I try to always have boiled eggs available in the refrigerator as they are a great source of protein.) Often their dinner is a healthier choice than the casserole I've made. Usually by age four they are capable of getting food for themselves and cleaning up their mess.

But if whining still continues...
Let children know:

1. ...whoever whines is volunteering to clear off the dinner table afterward.

2....whoever continues to whine volunteers to prepare the next meal for the family.

This second option can be quite interesting (and time consuming). We've actually only had to go this far with two children, ages 10 and 7 at the time. They each started out full of confidence, thinking this would be a fun and easy venture. They would show us how to make a good meal.

Both quickly realized bringing out all courses at the same time and pleasing everyone were difficult things. One son held us captive at the table no less than 90 minutes as he struggled through it.

We didn't hear much whining after those nights, though it's been a few years now and I'm starting to hear rumblings again....It may be time for a refresher course.

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  1. Brenna Stull on March 3, 2009 at 4:37 PM

    Okay, 10 minutes after posting this blog I had a whiner!!! I told him about the blog, he laughed, and quickly changed his tune... :)