My adopted daughter is coming up to age 3 and since hitting 2 years old has become a problem eater.
Most toddlers are fussy with food or picky but she uses her eating (or not eating!) as control issue. She was placed with us at 14 months old from a background of neglect and experienced attachment difficulties although these have got much better now (but not disappeared). However, an underlying theme of most of her behaviour is resistance and control – and she can be very attention-hungry!
We have tried numerous things to coax her to eat without success. She will eat most food but its the speed- she has been known to take up to 2 hours for a small plate of food. Unfortunately, being human, this has at times really wound me and my husband up! We have tried timers, removing the plate after 1/2 hour, reducing the portion size, offering rewards and incentives, consequences (such as losing toys or park time). We have also placed her at a table of her own to help her concentrate on eating (she can be very easily distracted by her siblings which doesn’t help) but to no avail.
She seems to refuse or even enjoy being able to control us and the situation by eating so slowly. We know we should not react and ignore it and not make a fuss, but it can be very hard and the times we have managed to do this successfully, she has immediately used other behaviours to gain attention and control – such as randomly wetting herself despite being toilet-trained for almost a year and largely accident free.
Any ideas on how we can help her learn that she doesn’t need to control everything and encourage her to eat more quickly? We suspect she enjoys the attention, even if its negative.
If you have any ideas or advice for Maryam, please comment below…and if you have your own problem that you’d like us to share here, please contact us.