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Old 05-28-2014, 06:18 AM
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Default Meal time issues

Hello. I am new to the forum and have been wondering how other DCP handle some of the issues that arise during meal time. Any insight would be appreciated.
-I've been limiting juice and milk during the day mainly b/c I was spending $15 a week on juice for one of my dck and that didn't include any of his food or even juice for his sister. Their mom feels they should have juice if they ask for it, but I feel like one cup of juice, one cup of milk, and then switching to water for the day should be sufficient. This however results in huge tantrums with a screaming child laying in my floor all afternoon.
-Do you give preschoolers seconds on lunch if they haven't cleared their plates first? I typically have about 4 items on my lunch menu: a meat, grain, veggie, and fruit. One of my dck will pick one item she really likes and sometimes ask for 3 servings, but she leaves all of the other food on her plate. I don't want to be unfair, but again that raises my food cost significantly and I am throwing away a plate full of food from her at every meal.
-Do you think it's appropriate to expect preschoolers to sit at the table together for 10 minutes at meal time whether they are hungry or not? I typically set the timer and say everyone stays at the table until it goes off and we talk about our day, etc. However, I've been told this is too much to expect from attention spans at this time. My concern is that some of them are so hyper they will not stop to eat unless they are made to and then they complain they are hungry all afternoon.
-Finally, one of my dcf do not encourage their children to use their silverware so their children's hands are always extremely sticky and then they wipe them on my walls and the children beside them. I am working hard to teach them manners, but their mom feels I am too hard on them. I regularly hear, "These behaviors are to be expected with 2 and 3 year olds." I'm so tired of being dismissed when I bring up concerns. Anyway, just wondered if I'm being overly controlling, or how you would handle similar situations. Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2014, 06:38 AM
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Welcome to the forum! I answered your questions below.

I don't buy juice. My daycare kids only drink water except for milk (mostly almond or coconut) at lunch and smoothies for snack sometimes. They can throw a tantrum as long a tantrum as they want, alone, in the crying spot.

The kids can have seconds if there is any left if they have an empty plate. I also offer apples, bananas, raisins and carrot sticks for seconds, again with an empty plate.

I expect all the kids to sit at the table for about 15 minutes and then I excuse them as they finish eating. I expect them to sit nicely in their seats, use words and be polite.

My kids start using forks and spoons by 18 months with varying degrees of success. I would expect a 3 or 4 year old to eat with utensils pretty well and not use their hands unless there is finger good on the plate.
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Old 05-28-2014, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Meyou View Post
Welcome to the forum! I answered your questions below.

I don't buy juice. My daycare kids only drink water except for milk (mostly almond or coconut) at lunch and smoothies for snack sometimes. They can throw a tantrum as long a tantrum as they want, alone, in the crying spot.

The kids can have seconds if there is any left if they have an empty plate. I also offer apples, bananas, raisins and carrot sticks for seconds, again with an empty plate.

I expect all the kids to sit at the table for about 15 minutes and then I excuse them as they finish eating. I expect them to sit nicely in their seats, use words and be polite.

My kids start using forks and spoons by 18 months with varying degrees of success. I would expect a 3 or 4 year old to eat with utensils pretty well and not use their hands unless there is finger good on the plate.
Yup. That about sums me up too. I use 1% milk though. But no juice. Kids don't need it and it wrecks their teeth (according to my dentist).

I also expect the kids to help out while I am making meals and snacks.
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Meyou View Post
Welcome to the forum! I answered your questions below.

I don't buy juice. My daycare kids only drink water except for milk (mostly almond or coconut) at lunch and smoothies for snack sometimes. They can throw a tantrum as long a tantrum as they want, alone, in the crying spot.

The kids can have seconds if there is any left if they have an empty plate. I also offer apples, bananas, raisins and carrot sticks for seconds, again with an empty plate.

I expect all the kids to sit at the table for about 15 minutes and then I excuse them as they finish eating. I expect them to sit nicely in their seats, use words and be polite.

My kids start using forks and spoons by 18 months with varying degrees of success. I would expect a 3 or 4 year old to eat with utensils pretty well and not use their hands unless there is finger good on the plate.
Yep same here! Only I don't tell the parents that about juice or milk or food unless they ask. My home and business and my rules. Per my regs, I am to leave a cup (sippy) where the child can access it. I found that if I let them drink all they wanted and what they wanted, I was spending way to much money and having more potty accidents then I wanted lol. In my experience I just nod and smile and as soon as the door closes I do what's best
For my business.
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:16 AM
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Food program says 1/2 c or 3/4 c of milk with meals. That's all they get. No juice, ever. Water is in sippy cups, which are available all day. If you are interested in letting mom have her way, she can provide the juice. Otherwise I'd tell DCM that water is the only drink outside of meal time, and that's how it's going to be.

No seconds on anything unless everything is gone -- if you are hungry, you will eat what's on your plate, otherwise you aren't very hungry.

10 - 15 minutes at the table is VERY reasonable.

Using utensils is encouraged at 18 months and required around 2 years - and they may NOT leave the table until they have had their hands wiped. Then they take their plate to the sink. Then we read books until all the kids are done and then everyone gets another wipe and cleans up the lunch area, floor, tables, etc. Anyone wiping their hands on other kids would have to sit by themselves for the meal. Anyone wiping their hands on my walls would spend a long time cleaning it all back up, preferably while the rest of us do something they enjoy.
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:48 AM
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Milk and water only at daycare. A glass of milk is served with snack and meals, but otherwise they can have water or go thirsty.

I'm not the food police. I prepare a meal (protein, starch, veggie) and serve it along with a plate each of bread/margarine and mixed fresh fruit (cut up). I encourage the kids to try everything, but I don't over do the encouragement/attention. I turn most of my attention onto the kids who are trying everything and praise them for it.

If one of the kids wants to eat only potatoes (for example), then they can eat their share of the potatoes, but when they are done their potatoes if they are still hungry they must eat something else. If a child has eaten nothing but potatoes, or bread and margarine, or fruit, then I simply tell the parent at the end of the day. I'm not getting into food wars with the kids. If the parents want that then they can fight those battles on their own time.

Ten minutes of table sitting for preschoolers it completely appropriate.

Use of utensils by children who are toddlers or older is also completely appropriate. I wouldn't punish for using hands, but I'd be telling them repeatedly to use the utensil instead. Hands are wiped before leaving the table and kids who disrespect others by using them as napkins would be sitting out of reach of any other kids.

This reminds me of the child of a guy I was dating before I had children of my own (and didn't realize what disgusting beasts they can be). She was going on three. One day, while sitting beside me, she sneezed and immediately leaned over and wiped her nose on the sleeve of the shirt I was wearing. I was so completely grossed out and appalled. I couldn't believe that she'd just done that. LOL.
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:53 AM
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*I do not offer juice, period. They get milk at breakfast and lunch. For snacks or any other times, they get water. If that means they are going to throw a fit, then let them. They will soon learn there is no juice and it will do them no good to throw a fit over it. If mom wants them to have juice, she can serve it at home.
*I am required to give seconds of bread, milk, and fruits/veg at meal times. I will provide seconds of protein if I have extras.
*Everyone sits at the table during meals and snacks. If they eat, great. If they don't eat, great. Everyone sits and is expected to behave. If they do have to leave the table due to behavior, they do not get to go play. They sit.
*I wash hands when children arrive in order to get rid of sticky hands from home. We always wash hands after meals and snacks to avoid messy hands spreading food around the house. I encourage them to use utensils, but I would rather them eat with their hands and be full, than to have hungry grumpy kiddos.
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamamanda View Post
Hello. I am new to the forum and have been wondering how other DCP handle some of the issues that arise during meal time. Any insight would be appreciated.
-I've been limiting juice and milk during the day mainly b/c I was spending $15 a week on juice for one of my dck and that didn't include any of his food or even juice for his sister. Their mom feels they should have juice if they ask for it, but I feel like one cup of juice, one cup of milk, and then switching to water for the day should be sufficient. I offer milk at every meal, as required by CACFP, juice is a treat at my house. For kids used to having juice ALL.DAY.LONG, I will give them a 90/10 mix of water and juice and slowly ease back on the juice until they will drink water. If the mom is insisting on juice, she should be providing it (I wouldn't allow it, anyway, because then EVERY kid would want juice all day long). This however results in huge tantrums with a screaming child laying in my floor all afternoon. Stop allowing a screaming child to lay on your floor all afternoon. Designate a cry spot away from everyone else, and let the child tantrum there. I tell them when they go to the cry spot that no one can see or hear them (not true), so they can cry by themselves all they want and join the rest of us when they are through.
-Do you give preschoolers seconds on lunch if they haven't cleared their plates first? I insist that they at least try their other foods before giving seconds. I typically have about 4 items on my lunch menu: a meat, grain, veggie, and fruit. One of my dck will pick one item she really likes and sometimes ask for 3 servings, but she leaves all of the other food on her plate. I don't want to be unfair, but again that raises my food cost significantly and I am throwing away a plate full of food from her at every meal.
-Do you think it's appropriate to expect preschoolers to sit at the table together for 10 minutes at meal time whether they are hungry or not? Absolutely.I typically set the timer and say everyone stays at the table until it goes off and we talk about our day, etc. However, I've been told this is too much to expect from attention spans at this time. My concern is that some of them are so hyper they will not stop to eat unless they are made to and then they complain they are hungry all afternoon.
-Finally, one of my dcf do not encourage their children to use their silverware so their children's hands are always extremely sticky and then they wipe them on my walls and the children beside them. I am working hard to teach them manners, but their mom feels I am too hard on them. I regularly hear, "These behaviors are to be expected with 2 and 3 year olds." Mom is right-they ARE typical behaviors. Our job as adults is to teach them APPROPRIATE behaviors. I don't punish for eating with hands (sometimes it's just easier for them), but I still encourage silverware use at every opportunity. I'm so tired of being dismissed when I bring up concerns. Anyway, just wondered if I'm being overly controlling, or how you would handle similar situations. Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:06 AM
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Welcome!!

- Drinks here are milk with breakfast and lunch, juice (4 oz only) once a week with snack, and water in between meals and with snack the rest of the week.

- We do family style meals. The kids decide how much to put on their plate but they must take some of everything. They can ask for 2nds of something ONLY after they have taken at least 1 bite of everything else on their plate. 3rds are only given if they have cleaned their plate.

-Mine are all 3's and 4's and they sit at the table until they are done eating but it is typically 15-20 minutes.

- we wash hands on arrival, after toileting, after outside play, after sensory table play, before and after every meal, and whenever else needed throughout the day.

And whether a behavior is "expected" or "typical" doesn't mean it shouldn't be corrected.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:07 AM
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My preschoolers are all 2-5.

They sit for 20 minutes at meal times. They are expected to use their silverware, manners (chewing with mouth closed, please and thank you). I will remind, but they get it after a while. When they finished, they ask to be excused 1 at a time. They take turns going potty, washing hands and brushing teeth.

I occasionally serve 4oz of 100% juice at snack. Other than that, milk at meals, water in between. Tantrum=go to cry spot.

Seconds only if they have cleaned their plate, unless it's veggies. I will always scoop more veggies if they ask.

I hold my kids to a higher standard than their parents do, obviously. I discuss very little of these minor day to day issues with the parents. Do what works for you, and they will get it eventually.

I will also excuse a child for poor manners if they are doing something repeatedly, like drawing in the applesauce.

You can always try gradually diluting juice until it's pretty much water anyway. I did that with a juice addict kiddo once.

Parents think that magically their children will go from eating like babies to eating like adults. It is a learning process and they can't expect it to happen overnight. The parents of children enrolled in my program rave about the improvement in mealtimes at home. It FLOORS them when their 3yo says "May I please be excused?"
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:14 AM
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Once my babies turn one its Milk with meals and water the rest of the time… I do fresh fruit too, no juice. Almost all my kids have learned to sit at the dinner table and eat finger foods off their plates by age one also… most manage 10-15 minutes because we eat all together
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:54 AM
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No juice, at all, ever. It's bad for their teeth and is just empty calories.

Quote:
-Do you give preschoolers seconds on lunch if they haven't cleared their plates first?
They're required to take a one bite of everything. If I think they really don't like a particular thing, they get seconds on what they do like.

Quote:
-Do you think it's appropriate to expect preschoolers to sit at the table together for 10 minutes at meal time whether they are hungry or not?
I have 1-3 year olds and they sit until everyone is finished. It's usually 30 minutes or more. If someone is getting restless, the can help by serving the other kids more water, vegetables or desert.

Quote:
I regularly hear, "These behaviors are to be expected with 2 and 3 year olds."
Of course it's to be expected. It's also expected that the adults around them teach an encourage the right ways to do things. Over 2, I remind them when they forget. The little one's aren't always physically capable of using utensils yet, it's fine. Absolutely NO wiping hands anywhere. The fact that they don't like messy hands tells me they're ready to use silverware.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:26 AM
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-Do you give preschoolers seconds on lunch if they haven't cleared their plates first? It depends. I usually give them seconds, but encourage them to try the other food. Most of them do try it too. After that, I'll give thirds depending on what's left.

-Do you think it's appropriate to expect preschoolers to sit at the table together for 10 minutes at meal time whether they are hungry or not?
Yes I think it is. I have one 3 year old and the rest are 2.5 and under and they all, with the exception of one child, eat at the table. The two one year olds will get up sometimes, but usually come back and the 2 and older children will sit and wait.


I serve milk at breakfast and lunch and occasionally at a snack. I do give juice every once in a while, but usually after breakfast, I fill a water cup and they may have that all day.

As far as the utensils, I think that it is a learning process. I give utensils to everyone to try to use and practice with every day, but do allow finger feeding for the younger kids. We also wash hands before and after meals/snacks.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:51 AM
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Hi! Lots of people gave you advice about meals, but one thing I'd like to mention is that it's not necessary to run every little thing by parents. I get the impression that you might be bringing up minor concerns to parents too often. That is creating the situation for you where the parents are telling you how to run your daycare ("he SHOULD have juice, 2-3 year olds can't sit at the table for that long, poor table manners should be expected-deal with it"), and you're feeling stressed because you feel like you need to listen to what they are telling you.

I wouldn't talk to parents about children's table manners or demands for juice unless it was really disruptive or their behavior was abnormal. Dealing with poor table manners, temper tantrums about juice, and so on, are things I expect to deal with on my own. I see it as part of the job because it's TYPICAL behavior from the child. Now, if the behavior became really problematic... like the child was really disrupting the group or posing a threat to himself or others, I'd definitely talk to the parents. Normal problems--I come here to the forum and ask. But I don't bring it up the parents unless it's necessary.

So, you get to decide what works for you. Juice is too expensive? Great! I agree. Get rid of it, and come up with a plan to help DCB adapt to drinking healthier options. I wouldn't even run it by DCM because your decision to serve juice is not something she decides. You expect your daycare kids to sit at the table for 10 minutes? Awesome! I have 2 year olds who will sit together for 30 minutes happily. You CAN help the kids learn these skills. You can do it on your time. Parents may or may not be supportive.

I see these kinds of decisions are just some of the many, many decisions you make throughout the day with the group's best interests in mind. This is what they pay us for, after all! If she is unhappy about your particular decisions, she can find daycare elsewhere.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:24 PM
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Thank you for all of the replies. I feel better just knowing how other providers do things. Preschoolteacher, you are definitely right. I think I do discuss too much with this family. The issue is that I started out taking care of their children in their own home 2 years ago and just made the switch to our home so I could add more children about 8 months ago. Dcg was a preemie and had some medical concerns at the beginning so mom discussed everything with me b/c of this. Now that weight is no longer an issue and medical conditions are all taken care of, we've unfortunately just continued with the cycle. Also, dcg is very sensitive and "tattles" to mom about almost everything. So things are often brought up to me such as "Why did I feel a time out for such-and-such was necessary?" or "Why wasn't she allowed to have extra juice?" etc. Unfortunately I allowed myself to take the defensive and that's just where we've stayed. I need to figure out how to move from constantly defending my actions to just boldly stating, "This is a set rule for every child in my care," and leave it at that.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mamamanda View Post
Thank you for all of the replies. I feel better just knowing how other providers do things. Preschoolteacher, you are definitely right. I think I do discuss too much with this family. The issue is that I started out taking care of their children in their own home 2 years ago and just made the switch to our home so I could add more children about 8 months ago. Dcg was a preemie and had some medical concerns at the beginning so mom discussed everything with me b/c of this. Now that weight is no longer an issue and medical conditions are all taken care of, we've unfortunately just continued with the cycle. Also, dcg is very sensitive and "tattles" to mom about almost everything. So things are often brought up to me such as "Why did I feel a time out for such-and-such was necessary?" or "Why wasn't she allowed to have extra juice?" etc. Unfortunately I allowed myself to take the defensive and that's just where we've stayed. I need to figure out how to move from constantly defending my actions to just boldly stating, "This is a set rule for every child in my care," and leave it at that.
Sounds like the parents still see you as their employee. They expect to be able to tell you what do to. In reality, you own your own business now, and you set the rules.

From your writing, I get the sense that you are professional and serious about doing childcare... not just watching kids for some extra cash (nothing against that). Do you have a contract with your families? A policy handbook? I'd recommend creating a policy handbook at the least. You can find lots of help with that here on the forum. That way, the parents will have it clearly laid out how you are running your daycare.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamamanda View Post
Thank you for all of the replies. I feel better just knowing how other providers do things. Preschoolteacher, you are definitely right. I think I do discuss too much with this family. The issue is that I started out taking care of their children in their own home 2 years ago and just made the switch to our home so I could add more children about 8 months ago. Dcg was a preemie and had some medical concerns at the beginning so mom discussed everything with me b/c of this. Now that weight is no longer an issue and medical conditions are all taken care of, we've unfortunately just continued with the cycle. Also, dcg is very sensitive and "tattles" to mom about almost everything. So things are often brought up to me such as "Why did I feel a time out for such-and-such was necessary?" or "Why wasn't she allowed to have extra juice?" etc. Unfortunately I allowed myself to take the defensive and that's just where we've stayed. I need to figure out how to move from constantly defending my actions to just boldly stating, "This is a set rule for every child in my care," and leave it at that.
One thing you will hear again and again here is that you are providing GROUP care. You are no longer their personal nanny, you are a childcare provider running a childcare program.

Why wasn't she allowed to have extra juice? "Because I felt she had enough".

Why aren't you serving juice any longer? "Because I made the decision, based on my research, that the children would benefit from drinking more water and less sugar-laden juice".

Do you have a policy manual? If not, maybe time to develop one. I'd be happy to share mine (and probably so would others here). You can take what ever you like from it. Just PM me and I will direct you to my website, where it's posted.
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:05 PM
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I give juice once with one of the snacks and then milk at lunch (1 serving) and then it's water for the rest of the day.

They have to ask to be excused to leave the table.

They do not get more food unless they have eaten everything else first. If I give 2 veggies mixed I will sometimes let them just eat one if I know for sure the child doesn't like that one.
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mamamanda View Post
Hello. I am new to the forum and have been wondering how other DCP handle some of the issues that arise during meal time. Any insight would be appreciated.
-I've been limiting juice and milk during the day mainly b/c I was spending $15 a week on juice for one of my dck and that didn't include any of his food or even juice for his sister. Their mom feels they should have juice if they ask for it, but I feel like one cup of juice, one cup of milk, and then switching to water for the day should be sufficient. This however results in huge tantrums with a screaming child laying in my floor all afternoon.
-Do you give preschoolers seconds on lunch if they haven't cleared their plates first? I typically have about 4 items on my lunch menu: a meat, grain, veggie, and fruit. One of my dck will pick one item she really likes and sometimes ask for 3 servings, but she leaves all of the other food on her plate. I don't want to be unfair, but again that raises my food cost significantly and I am throwing away a plate full of food from her at every meal.
-Do you think it's appropriate to expect preschoolers to sit at the table together for 10 minutes at meal time whether they are hungry or not? I typically set the timer and say everyone stays at the table until it goes off and we talk about our day, etc. However, I've been told this is too much to expect from attention spans at this time. My concern is that some of them are so hyper they will not stop to eat unless they are made to and then they complain they are hungry all afternoon.
-Finally, one of my dcf do not encourage their children to use their silverware so their children's hands are always extremely sticky and then they wipe them on my walls and the children beside them. I am working hard to teach them manners, but their mom feels I am too hard on them. I regularly hear, "These behaviors are to be expected with 2 and 3 year olds." I'm so tired of being dismissed when I bring up concerns. Anyway, just wondered if I'm being overly controlling, or how you would handle similar situations. Thanks!
I don't offer juice at all. It is completely unneccessary. Milk and water only. No seconds till they eat everything on their plate. Everyone stays at the table for 30 minutes here for lunch. if you are done, fine, but you dont get down. I dont tell the parents about any meal time struggles, total waste of time. I set my rules for care here, the kids pick it up quickly and thats that. The only time I discuss anything with the parents is if they ask first or if it is extreme term-worthy behavior. Besides that, I take care of things because parents are rarely a help in solving issues here at care.....that is my job, not theirs. That said, I don't care if a 2 or even 3 year old uses their hands. The parents send their lunches but for snacks, I dont offer messy foods. Everything is cubed items, crackers and other finger foods so they rarely need silverware. That is what is easier for me. For lunch, I serve what the parents packed but the kids are offered all the non messy foods first. That takes care of about 90% of the battle. If a child was still making a horrendous mess, I would just tell mom that she needs to send finger foods only for now while little JR practices spoons/forks at home.
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