How to Stop Meal Time Battles

Do you have meal time battles with your kids? Before kids, I had visions of sitting down at the dinner table and peacefully eating while talking about our day. Now with two small kids in our house, meal time is sometimes filled with complaints and whining. Not exactly peaceful. Thankfully our kids aren’t super picky…until recently.

Around our daughter’s 3rd birthday she realized she could say “No I don’t want that for lunch. I want something else.” I would encourage her to eat what I prepared, but it often ended in an argument. So I started giving her choices. Do you want PB&J or grilled cheese for lunch? Unfortunately, this didn’t resolve our food battle either!

In this post I’m sharing why I stopped offering food choices and how we ended meal time battles in our house.

I remember our pediatrician telling me that if the kids didn’t like what I made for dinner they could go to bed hungry. He said they would eventually learn to eat what I prepared. I thought that seemed so harsh! But I slowly realized there was truth in what he said. A side note, before you make any changes to your children’s diet talk to your pediatrician. I’m just a mom sharing my journey, this is not medical advice. 

Why I Stopped Offering Food Choices

Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat the food you prepare? Read how this mom ended meal time battles and started enjoying meal time as a family again!


Reduce Meal Time Battles

Kids are smart. My daughter knew she could refuse dinner and later in the night she would get a yogurt. She realized I gave in easily! Unfortunately, this created meal timebattles. I knew this bad habit had to stop! I stopped offering her choices and instead I prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner and placed it at her seat.

Now don’t get me wrong at first she definitely complained.
She would say “I don’t want that” or “No! I want something else.”
My response: “This is the only option. If you are really hungry you will eat it.”

Many times Izzy would walk away from the table and go play.

But then I started noticing within 15-30 minutes she would come back without saying anything and eat the food!!

Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat the food you prepare? Read how this mom ended meal time battles and started enjoying meal time as a family again!

Stop Picky Eating:

Before we started having meal time battles we never had any issues with digestion. After my daughter realized she could rule the menu she often asked for bread, pretzels or other starchy foods. She was no longer eating a balanced meal even though she liked fruits and vegetables. Now that she knows “you get what you get,” she is back to loving her green beans, apples and peppers.

Create a Healthy Balance:

In my opinion, it’s not good for kids to be the boss. I knew this, but yet I still let it happen in our house. I didn’t want to hear the constant complaining! So at the time it was easier to give her what she wanted. In the long run that’s never a good idea. Our meal times are pleasant now and just last night our daughter said “I’m so happy I’m eating this dinner. It’s so good.” We had quinoa & black bean tacos with a side of green beans! 

Are you tired of meal time battles? Try limiting food choices and see what happens. At first you may face some push back and complaining, but when you set boundaries and stick to them your kids will realize you mean business. Soon they will stop pushing back and start eating a balanced meal

How do you handle meal time battles?

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