So a bone of contention in our house this week is eating. Getting my daughter who is ADD to eat is like trying to bleed blood from a stone.
Nothing I seem to be trying has been working. Breakfast, dinner and tea I may as well just put the food in the bin or better yet not even start cooking. Why does everything seem to be such a battle. I either just cook what I think she will eat and it’s wrong or I ask and then cook and still it’s wrong. I can’t win and I am the bloody adult!!! Why does eating have to pose such an issue seriously I am not soft I don’t let them dictate I cook set meals and switch it around I make it interesting while trying to not be boring and I don’t cook what I know they won’t eat. So why I think to myself will my 9 year old just not bloody eat. My other girls eat and she sees them eating, they see her not eating and being spoon fed (yes some days the only way she will eat is if I feed her ). I have tried earlier tea times, later tea times all sorts. I just feel like an utter idiot, a failure who can’t even get her own child to eat.
Well you see for Louisa she is on medication for ADD. This helps her to concentrate and control her behaviour and allows her to learn and function where she otherwise would struggle, but a MAJOR drawback is that it is suppressing her appetite. She is 9 1/2 years old and weighs around 4.5 stone by comparison my 6 year old is 5 stone. We have appointments every 6 months to check medication, weight etc and we are told don’t let it get below 4 stone.
Even though I am doing everything that I can to ensure she maintains her weight her clothes are hanging of her, she is skin and bones and her energy levels are rubbish. I have to be so careful when she has a massage so that I don’t hurt her as her bones poke out. Its heartbreaking and I hate it.I feel like I am failing her on every level. What am i suppose to do? without her tablet we go back to how it use to be where she can’t concentrate, sit still, she can’t learn, can’t socialise, picks on her sisters, throws things in anger the list goes on. Medication is meant to help my daughter but I see the effects that it has on her. Family and friends, strangers in the street can all see the effect that taking mediation has on her. So why do I do it? Why do I every morning give a tablet to my child? Can anyone else relate?
Food has defiantly been an issue for the last three years and its only getting worse the older Louisa gets. The medication used to treat ADD / ADHD is known to make them not feel hungry. It suppresses their appetites. Its why they are checked while they are on it, but what do you do between appointments. I have to weigh her weekly, its become something that I feel paranoia over. My husband is the same we are obsessed with seeing if she has put any weight on.You see I am so scared that if her weight drops to much they will intervene maybe put her in hospital but no amount of cajoling even at 5.30 pm when her medication has worn of will get her to eat. She is to tired and grumpy, argumentative and just wants to be left alone and she’s anxious about everything. She just has no interest in anything so no amount of bribes will work either. It’s getting to the point where she is starting to realise she has control over wether she eats or not. That’s something I don’t want to go through.
A new strategy…
So we have started with a new old strategy :)… a smile chart. I had tried reward charts when she was younger but they never really seem to stick and with the memory problems and learning difficulties she didn’t really understand what it was all about, she just wanted the reward. Our new smile chart is much simpler than a sticker / star chart as all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. No trying to find stickers and the stress of running out or hours spent trying to choose the right stickers because “it has to be the right one mummy”, no arguements no stress and they can personalise it anyway they want to. As long as you have a steady supply of pens your fine.
So as you can see there are two charts. One I made up for home and she can gain two smiley faces a day, one for breakfast and one for tea. The second is one that we put in her lunch box for school. This means that anyone like a friend or dinner lady or teacher can draw a face and if thats forgotten with a pack lunch I can see exactly what she has eaten and add a smiley face at the end of the day. I was paying for lunches but Louisa refused to eat them 😔
The aim is for my daughter to get as many smiley faces as she can. When she has a full 10 smiles for breakfast/tea in a 7 day period she gets a reward. The lunchtime chart is the same. Its all about making it as achievable as possible without making eating such an issue that she digs in her heels. Basically I need to make her want to eat and if a reward will do the job I can live with that.
So last week’s reward was a new pencil case she had been asking for. The lunchtime reward was an extra 15 minutes before bed on saturday and Sunday. As you can see from the chart she achieved both 🙂 The rewards can be anything that you along with your child decide getting them involved is key. Louisa needs to be excited about something so that she overcome’s her anxiousness. So we personally decided on things that louisa needed. i.e. a pencil case, a new book a little extra time before bed. Sweets and chocolate hold no appeal over a new pencil case in my house thank god! chocolate bars these days seem to be smaller anyway and more expensive or is that just me?
Last week was the first week. It was a good week Louisa was really excited and loved putting smiley faces on the charts. I thought all was going well, but we seem to have hit a stumbling block tonight. I cooked tea something I know she would eat but no she would not bloody eat it for love no money. I feel so powerless when she is like this. It breaks my heart because I know her body needs the food and frustrated because as her mother it is my job to make sure she grows up healthy strong and gets the nourishment she needs. I feel anger that she won’t eat and have to try so hard not to escalate the situation while still trying to get her to cooperate. Without the proper diet I know she could end up with health problems, she could end up with eating disorders. Lack of food means that her concentration is even worse than normal, her body is tired and has to use its own energy to sustain her hyperactivity. I feel inadequate like its my fault. As her mum its my job to make sure she eats. My other three girls all eat like horses. Anything I put in front of them they will eat, but lately I find I am doing more and more to try and cook things that Louisa will eat which means that meal times have become boring. I cook meat she won’t eat it except for chicken I can just about get away with, mash potato is a no no, peas hell no!!! bread no crusts and she won’t even touch chocolate….says its too chocolaty, crisps as long as they are the right ones, sausage rolls a must for breakfast, cooked breakfasts she will ask for then not eat once cooked. But she loves spaghetti and meatballs ☺️
All I can do is keep trying and doing my best. Hopefully after today she will get back into the swing of things and we will again have some fab results and fun looking for a new book. What ever the next few weeks bring at least I know that I have tried to do my best and at the end of the day thats all I can do. It’s all any of us can do. With ADD I am finding its all about trial and error much like with normal parenting. We all have stages with our children wether disabled or not of stubbornness and refusals to eat, go to bed ect. The key is to take it in our strides as best we can learn from it and move onto other things. My children all have a stubborn streak. It runs in the family and they are also argumentative I feel like I am butting up against a brick wall most days and even though I try to think positive I can’t help feeling somedays that my best just isn’t good enough, and when I look at my daughter I see what other people can see and blame myself even more. I will never blame her.
will keep you posted
x leanne x