The Dinner Negotiations

by The Momma on March 13, 2012

I’m fairly certain we’re doing it wrong, but dinner time has become the great bargaining game. Here’s what a typical dinner sounds like at our house these days:


The Momma: Bud, you can’t have raisins for dinner, we’re having chicken, broccoli, & sweet potatoes for dinner.

The Noodle: ALL DONE!

The Momma: Bud, you haven’t eaten anything.


The Daddy: Bud, remember, we’re having oranges for dessert if you eat your dinner.

The Noodle: ORANGE!

The Daddy: Only when you eat your dinner.

The Noodle: ORANGE!

The Daddy: Ok, how about this. You can have ONE slice of orange if you eat TWO bites of chicken.

The Noodle: OK! *chows down, while holding his hand out expectantly for the orange slice*


I…yeah, I’m almost POSITIVE we’re doing this one wrong. I mean, we’re basically bargaining to get him to eat. Which I KNOW sets a bad precedent. I KNOW.


I also know that our kid becomes, much like his momma, an insufferable JERK when he’s hungry. And I know that half the time he’s not eating only because he’d rather get down and play–he’s hungry, he likes the food we have, he just finds sitting at dinner to be boring compared to running around like a loon. And I know that the bargaining only works–ONLY–when he’s actually hungry. Because if he’s not, even bargaining for his absolutely favorite things won’t work.

But still, I do cringe a little every time we do it. Even while I’m laughing, because DUDE. Half the time we’re bargaining bassackwards. “If you eat one bite of your hotdog, you can have this apple.” “If you eat two bites of pizza, you can have some prunes.” Here kid, you can have this nice healthy FRUIT if you eat that total junk food, FTLOG.

Yeah. We’re totally doing this wrong.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

shasta March 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

At least your reinforcer works! We finally just let Mittens eat what she requests – she’s in a phase where she only eats food that she knows she likes. Related: our definition of things considered “ham” has expanded.


Erin the Creative Broad March 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I think your Noodle and my G were separated at birth. He hasn’t been wanting to drink milk lately and still definitely needs it so I found myself saying “no juice until you finish your chocolate milk!” the other day.


melanie Juneau March 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I once read about a study in England where two year olds were presented with a huge, long table of different, healthy food. One aay a kid ate ONLY bananas but at the end of the month, every child had a perfectly balanced diet! this was a consolation to me. Relax, don’t butt heads ( gets lots of negative attention) and if a two year old constantly nibbles on healthy food on the run, who cares? They are not really social beings till they turn three anyway: they only engage in parallel play ( which can also include eating) I agree with you, “NEVER let them get hungry and nver let them get tired.”( one of my Mottos)-melanie


Katie March 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

My 2.5 year old does the same thing. Our bribe is one peanut M&M (she doesnt know that she is getting jipped yet :) . It is a battle every night. It’s not like I make things that she wont eat. I am hoping one day she will stop this but in the meantime…bribery seems to work.


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