But even today, dinner is just not Sam’s thing.
The same probably goes for many other young kids: It’s the end of a long (possibly nap-free) day. They’re done with sitting still, with being told what to do, with keeping it together. In Sam’s case, his appetite is largest between about 7am-3pm—exactly when he’s expending the most energy.
So come dinnertime, I try to cut him some slack. The rules still apply: You have to join the family at the dinner table, you eat what the family eats, you use manners, and you ask to be excused. And no snacks in the hour before dinner except veggies (read more: My Pre-Dinner Snack Strategy).
Yet frequently, Sam will take only a few bites. And some nights, he doesn’t take any bites at all.
I no longer freak out about this (okay, sometimes when I’ve spent a long time preparing a really good meal, I inwardly freak out a little bit).
One tactic that eases my frustration: I save his plate of food. And if he comes back to the kitchen later saying he’s hungry, I heat it back up for him. I do this in a very matter-of-fact way, not as a punishment.
Yes, there are some nights when he is not pleased with this arrangement (and there are some nights when I simply forget and his meal gets tossed—or eaten by my husband). But most nights, he accepts it.
Like last night, when, after eating only a few bites at dinnertime, he ate his entire plate of (reheated) spaghetti with meat sauce an hour later. Then he asked for (and ate!) a second helping.
The way I see it, Sam may not have enough focus or appetite for our 6pm family dinnertime. But that doesn’t mean he should miss out on dinner.