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Old 08-02-2014, 11:14 AM
 
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This may seem like an odd question but my mom and I have become very concerned about my sister's behavior when she eats. This has become recent over the last few months. She is constantly eating with her hands, no matter what the food is, even if its not something you will normally eat with hands, like fried chicken. It is other things like Rice, etc. When she's done with her food, she will start "scraping" the plate with her hands. We both have had discussions with her, told her it is gross, she needs to eat like a big girl, use her knife and fork, napkin, etc, and she still continues to do it. She even tried at a restaurant the other day. We are at a loss as to what to do. My mom says she has never seen this kind of behavior from a child this age.

Thank you in advance for any help
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,297 posts, read 79,469,982 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzii View Post
This may seem like an odd question but my mom and I have become very concerned about my sister's behavior when she eats. This has become recent over the last few months. She is constantly eating with her hands, no matter what the food is, even if its not something you will normally eat with hands, like fried chicken. It is other things like Rice, etc. When she's done with her food, she will start "scraping" the plate with her hands. We both have had discussions with her, told her it is gross, she needs to eat like a big girl, use her knife and fork, napkin, etc, and she still continues to do it. She even tried at a restaurant the other day. We are at a loss as to what to do. My mom says she has never seen this kind of behavior from a child this age.

Thank you in advance for any help
sounds to me like an attempt to get attention. Has your mom talked to the pediatrition (spelling) about this?
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:31 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
13,107 posts, read 17,646,574 times
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yep sounds like attention getting to me as well time to lower the boom so to speak ; Tell her if she cannot eat like a big girl then she will not eat . Plain and simple and it will not last for long if you lower the boom on her .
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:45 PM
 
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I'm going to assume that your sister used to eat properly using cutlery. You said this started in the past few months, so perhaps she does know the manners for eating at a table.

To fix the problem, explain to her how she should behave the next time you all sit down to a meal. Tell her that her meal must be eat eaten with fork, spoon, etc. If it is not , the entire meal will be removed and she will have nothing to eat until the next meal.

She's going to test you to see if you really mean it. That means you have to follow through. The moment she sticks her fingers into food that is not finger food, remove her plate. She gets nothing until the next meal. If you're at a restaurant and she tries it, have the waiter take her plate away. Ignore any crying, whining, you're a mean mom, ,etc.

She may miss a few meals, but she won't starve to death. Remember no between meal snacking. Don't get angry with her, no raised voices, no " I told you so" , etc. Just be very calm and matter of fact.

Then you need to figure out why she is doing this. Obviously she is getting attention. She knows better but is doing this deliberately. In this case, she seems to feel that negative attention is better than no attention at all. So what is going on in her life that makes her feel she is being left out or ignored. Is it something in the household, something at school, something with friends ? Try talking to her - find out what is going on in her mind. Good luck
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:01 PM
 
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We thought it could be assn attention thing as well, we are also wondering of this may be a sign off anxiousness? She is starting middle school in fall could this also maybe be a coping mechanism? We will try what you have all suggested about taking the meal away
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:32 PM
 
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Have you tried sitting down with her at a time when things are quiet & ask her if she can explain why she prefers doing this?

It may be just a phase that will pass in a few weeks, or maybe there's some specific reason?

Does she have any dental issues? Braces?

Maybe she has canker sores in her mouth?

I've known people that say eating with metal utensils changes the taste of the food for them. Might she be able to eat with plastic utensils or chopsticks?

The more you try to force her the worse the situation will get.

Stay calm, this too shall pass !
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:33 PM
 
2,747 posts, read 3,918,446 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzii View Post
We thought it could be assn attention thing as well, we are also wondering of this may be a sign off anxiousness? She is starting middle school in fall could this also maybe be a coping mechanism? We will try what you have all suggested about taking the meal away

Using food as a punishment is never a good idea, it can lead to eating disorders.
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
16,488 posts, read 15,923,785 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willow wind View Post
I'm going to assume that your sister used to eat properly using cutlery. You said this started in the past few months, so perhaps she does know the manners for eating at a table.

To fix the problem, explain to her how she should behave the next time you all sit down to a meal. Tell her that her meal must be eat eaten with fork, spoon, etc. If it is not , the entire meal will be removed and she will have nothing to eat until the next meal.

She's going to test you to see if you really mean it. That means you have to follow through. The moment she sticks her fingers into food that is not finger food, remove her plate. She gets nothing until the next meal. If you're at a restaurant and she tries it, have the waiter take her plate away. Ignore any crying, whining, you're a mean mom, ,etc.

She may miss a few meals, but she won't starve to death. Remember no between meal snacking. Don't get angry with her, no raised voices, no " I told you so" , etc. Just be very calm and matter of fact.

Then you need to figure out why she is doing this. Obviously she is getting attention. She knows better but is doing this deliberately. In this case, she seems to feel that negative attention is better than no attention at all. So what is going on in her life that makes her feel she is being left out or ignored. Is it something in the household, something at school, something with friends ? Try talking to her - find out what is going on in her mind. Good luck
This sounds like a great plan.

During those first few meals I will suggest planning meals that must be eaten with silverware such as soups, casseroles, vegetables with sauces, mashed potatoes and gravy, ice cream, etc. If you serve a lot of "finger foods" such as sandwiches, fresh vegetables, cookies, etc. she may just try to "fill up" on those foods first before getting her hands into the rice, etc. Also, there are some foods which some people eat as finger foods and some people do not (pizza, burritos, etc.) and you don't want her to start arguing that those really are finger foods.

Another idea to try is to invite people to dinner who she respects or admires, such as her grandmother, a slightly older friend, your minister and see if she still eats with her hands in front of special visitors.

I agree that she is probably seeking attention so be sure to give her attention for all of the good things that she is doing.

Did this start before or after school ended? If it started during school do you know if she did this at school and if yes what happened (did her classmates refuse to sit next to her, did she have to eat at a different table, or what).

Also, there is a chance that it may be a medical problem. As another poster mentioned, mouth sores, metal sensitivity, tactile needs/problems, reaction to medications (perhaps that effected her taste buds or smell). If you think that there is any possibility of a health problem you should take her to the doctor before you try to deal with it as strictly a behavior problem.

Last edited by germaine2626; 08-02-2014 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:51 PM
 
Location: BK All Day
4,480 posts, read 8,318,895 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daliowa View Post
Using food as a punishment is never a good idea, it can lead to eating disorders.
The food isn't really a punishment/reward. All she has to do is eat normally, and everything is fine. It's not like she doesn't get to eat if she can't run a 7 minute mile.

FWIW I think 10 is way too old to be having talks about doing something like a "big girl".
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Old 08-02-2014, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Colorado
1,706 posts, read 2,922,763 times
Reputation: 1741
Quote:
Originally Posted by daliowa View Post
Have you tried sitting down with her at a time when things are quiet & ask her if she can explain why she prefers doing this?

It may be just a phase that will pass in a few weeks, or maybe there's some specific reason?

Does she have any dental issues? Braces?

Maybe she has canker sores in her mouth?

I've known people that say eating with metal utensils changes the taste of the food for them. Might she be able to eat with plastic utensils or chopsticks?

The more you try to force her the worse the situation will get.

Stay calm, this too shall pass !
I'm going to agree with this.

I would say offer utensils at each meal, don't say a word about them at all, you might want to try a bunch of different ones in case she does have a metal allergy. Maybe some fun color plastic ones. Again, don't mention them, the more of an issue you make the more she might rebel.

You should explain before going to a restaurant that she must use utensils as that is the rule when you are in public.

There are many cultures where eating with your hands is acceptable and the preferred method for dining.
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