Step daughter issues. — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Step daughter issues.

My step daughter is 6 years old. She refuses to eat anything I cook. Even grilled cheese. I make her and her brother kid friendly foods but I won't make them separate dinners. We have sent her to bed without dinner. We have let her brother have dessert and not her. Nothing works. Any advice?

Re: Step daughter issues.

  • Generally kids will eat when they're hungry.  Both of my step-kids have gone through phases of only eating two meals a day, typically right after they've finished growth spurts.  It doesn't usually last very long, and I believe they legitimately are not hungry then.  As long as she is getting a nutritious breakfast and lunch I wouldn't worry about it too much.  First step I would take is to cut out any snacks though to make sure she's not getting full on those.  Is she asking for different foods or saying she isn't hungry?
    Me: 30 DH: 35 
    TTC #1 - Jan 2015
    BFP on 5/13/15
    DD born 1/24/16
    TTC #2 - Jun 2017
    BFP on 8/24/17
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  • I'm of 2 minds about this.  It's possible that it's just a normal kid food thing.  People always think that toddlers are the worst about food, but both my kids were way more picky at 5 or 6 than at 2.  The reply above had some good advice.  Limit after school snacks or make the snacks really healthy.  I always figured if my kid ate a whole banana at 4 pm after school, but then didn't want chicken and broccoli at 6, at least the kid had filled up on banana instead of chips or cookies.  If your SD is used to coming home and having a sweet or salty snack, you might get resistance on this at first.  A way to deal with it is to offer a choice:  you can have a bigger healthy snack or a tiny junk food snack.  Are you feeling truly hungry and need to fill your tummy, or are you just feeling like you want a little treat?  

    The other possibility is that this is a blended family issue.  You don't mention how long you've been her SM.  If you're new to being the one who cooks for her, it could be that you do things slightly differently than your H or her mom.  A kid this age can be thrown off by something really little.  Maybe you use cheddar on your grilled cheese, but her mom uses Kraft singles.  Maybe you cut the sandwiches in triangles, but mom does them in rectangles.  An 8 year old generally doesn't care about those things and may even be interested in trying something slightly different or new.  But 6 year olds can still think that anything different is "wrong" and "yucky."

    If you are new in her life, or new to sharing a home with her, it may also be that rejecting food is the one way she has of expressing her stress over a change in her family dynamic.  If she's basically a well-behaved kid, she may feel that the one way she can deal with this change without being a "naughty" kid is to say, "I'm not hungry" or "I don't like this food."  Don't take it personally, if this seems to be the case.  

    No matter what the cause, time and being consistent will help.  She may come around sooner if you give her choices and involve her in helping to buy and make the food.  My kids always did better with food when they had helped with the prep.  I think you are smart not to punish her or make a big deal out of it.  If she doesn't eat, just take the food away and let her leave the table -- but no snacks.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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