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Old 03-01-2011, 09:24 AM
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Default Meal Time, When Kids Play And Won’t Eat

so what do you other DCP do when a child does not eat their food?

I have a dck who every meal plays instead of eats. Talks and talks to no end. I remind the child daily to eat so that they will get play time before our lessons start. However, this child does not listen and will continue to just mess around. I normally would allow for this child to sit at the table alone and try to finish food, but that has now become a game too.

so today i said whoever finished their breakfast will get free play, but meal time is now over and if you did not finish you did not earn play time before class. The "problem eater" started screaming and actually tried to fight me not to take their plate of food away. I made the child sit with the group but the child did not get to play toys.

Part of me felt like this might not have been the right way to go about this, but I feel stuck. Nothing that I do works with this child and today was the first time that I feel I was taken serious. I am sure the child is hungry, but I gave the child 40 minutes (which is way too long) to eat an orange and a bowl of oatmeal.

suggestions please.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:29 AM
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I would let the child have the allotted meal time, and then take his food away.

For example if you give 30 or 40 minutes for lunch, I would let him have that time. Once lunch is over it is over. So his food gets taken away and move onto the next activity. I would not take away free play time, I would carry on with my day.

You are offering him food, if he is hungry he will eat it.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:32 AM
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I would let the child have the allotted meal time, and then take his food away.

For example if you give 30 or 40 minutes for lunch, I would let him have that time. Once lunch is over it is over. So his food gets taken away and move onto the next activity. I would not take away free play time, I would carry on with my day.

You are offering him food, if he is hungry he will eat it.
I have tried this before just remove food after meal time has passed and move on, but this child could not care less. they would just choose NOT to eat. I thought ok the child will eat at the next meal, NOPE, and so the day goes on like this... not to mention, that the childs behavior goes out the window when meals are not eaten........ugh
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:37 AM
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In my house, after 30 minutes all plates are taken away (I only have issues with one of my current kids being a slow eater from time to time) - meal time is over and we go on with our day per usual.

There is a rule of "no chatting" during meal times because it causes major distraction and also causes the kids to talk with their mouths full of food, which is rude.
We ask eachother how our food is, ask for seconds, and make basic small talk - but there's no actual conversations during meal times. Works for us.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:38 AM
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I have tried this before just remove food after meal time has passed and move on, but this child could not care less. they would just choose NOT to eat. I thought ok the child will eat at the next meal, NOPE, and so the day goes on like this... not to mention, that the childs behavior goes out the window when meals are not eaten........ugh
Then they don't eat. Let the parents know the situation.
A child will eat if they get hungry enough.
I give milk when they won't eat and off they go.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:38 AM
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I have tried this before just remove food after meal time has passed and move on, but this child could not care less. they would just choose NOT to eat. I thought ok the child will eat at the next meal, NOPE, and so the day goes on like this... not to mention, that the childs behavior goes out the window when meals are not eaten........ugh
How long did you try it for?
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:40 AM
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I've always gone by the old saying "they'll eat when they're hungry".

Does this kid get junk at home? Is he/she fairly new to you? Maybe these are factors. How old is this child?
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:47 AM
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How long did you try it for?
weeks.. to my amazement this child has gone all day without eating or drinking anything at all when in my care.. I have talked to the parentsabout how dangerous this is but they dont give a hoot... they just say oh well they can eat when they get home...

the child has been here for over a year and the issue with this and other areas are getting worse by the week....
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:49 AM
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I don't focus on the behavior. I make them two plates with half serving on each, sit them first, each time I walk by I give them a scoop of something from the other plate. Then they think they are winning their game, they get some food, and no one is fighting.
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:47 AM
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Here they are given a couple of warnings and then the plate is removed and they are removed from the table. There is no "rewards" or "punishments" after the fact. Simple cause and effect. If you are playing then you aren't hungry. And if you aren't hungry then you can move on. As long as the child isn't malnourished, then it's not worth the battle. If his parents don't see it as an issue then I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by snbauser View Post
Here they are given a couple of warnings and then the plate is removed and they are removed from the table. There is no "rewards" or "punishments" after the fact. Simple cause and effect. If you are playing then you aren't hungry. And if you aren't hungry then you can move on. As long as the child isn't malnourished, then it's not worth the battle. If his parents don't see it as an issue then I wouldn't worry about it.
I guess this is where I cant just disregard this situation just because the parents dont care, because I do. I dont think that there is anything healthy about a child going all day without food or drink..

I try my best to make meal time fun for the kids by serving food I know they will eat, food that relates to out themes, and often read stories for them during meals.... I do give warnings that meal time will be over in 2 min and etc.

I dont make a big deal out of it, but when it comes down to this situation it gets me so crazed. we have weather that gets over 110 here in a few months and if this goes on, then I am really going to have issues, becuase the child will end up in the hospital from dehydration... the parents will care then right and it will be my fault..

this issue has been going on for months and is only getting worse and worse.. I dont know what to do with this child, because like I said this child has and will go all day with out consuming any food or liquids and I am not ok with this......
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by daycare View Post
I guess this is where I cant just disregard this situation just because the parents dont care, because I do. I dont think that there is anything healthy about a child going all day without food or drink..

I try my best to make meal time fun for the kids by serving food I know they will eat, food that relates to out themes, and often read stories for them during meals.... I do give warnings that meal time will be over in 2 min and etc.

I dont make a big deal out of it, but when it comes down to this situation it gets me so crazed. we have weather that gets over 110 here in a few months and if this goes on, then I am really going to have issues, becuase the child will end up in the hospital from dehydration... the parents will care then right and it will be my fault..

this issue has been going on for months and is only getting worse and worse.. I dont know what to do with this child, because like I said this child has and will go all day with out consuming any food or liquids and I am not ok with this......
As long as you are providing times throughout the day to eat and drink, it will NOT be your fault if this child becomes malnourished or dehydrated. You can't MAKE them eat or drink. If you are worried that you will start being blamed for malnourishment or dehydration; just start documenting.

For ex: if you send home a daily report (if you don't, maybe now is the time to start), write down the eating times and what was offered. Write down if the child ate or not. Save a copy of the report. Now you'll have something that will prove you are not the cause of ill health to this child.

Continue your communication with the parents and document each conversation. Ask them what the child is eating at home and how much. Ask what the child's favorite meal is, favorite snack, favorite drink, etc...
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by snbauser View Post
Here they are given a couple of warnings and then the plate is removed and they are removed from the table. There is no "rewards" or "punishments" after the fact. Simple cause and effect. If you are playing then you aren't hungry. And if you aren't hungry then you can move on. As long as the child isn't malnourished, then it's not worth the battle. If his parents don't see it as an issue then I wouldn't worry about it.

This what I do.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by snbauser View Post
Here they are given a couple of warnings and then the plate is removed and they are removed from the table. There is no "rewards" or "punishments" after the fact. Simple cause and effect. If you are playing then you aren't hungry. And if you aren't hungry then you can move on. As long as the child isn't malnourished, then it's not worth the battle. If his parents don't see it as an issue then I wouldn't worry about it.


THis is what I do too.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:34 AM
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can you move him in the corner away from everyone and let him eat by himself. Like in your eating area, have a special area just for him. I found that sometimes I have to remove the child and they will eat.
Now, I started clamping down on food. I don't force anyone (like shovel it in their mouthes) but they do sit there till they are done. I don't care if they eat half their meals, but they have to eat and try all the food. I also found that kids play this game---don't eat main meal, but always room for snack. I don't do this anymore. The kids know that we eat and we don't mess around. I haven't had a problem with eat except alot of my kids don't eat fruit, but I think its because they don't get it at home.
I do care about what kids eat, because I believe that if they don't eat, they become horrible monsters. Also, most of my dck's eat junk at dinner that I would never serve what they eat here.
So stick to your guns, if he sits there for an hour, let him sit there, I sometimes sit there too and eat my lunch (my daycare room and dinning room are next to each other) I think he's so use to getting away with it, that he doesn't care anymore.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Lilbutterflie View Post
As long as you are providing times throughout the day to eat and drink, it will NOT be your fault if this child becomes malnourished or dehydrated. You can't MAKE them eat or drink. If you are worried that you will start being blamed for malnourishment or dehydration; just start documenting.

For ex: if you send home a daily report (if you don't, maybe now is the time to start), write down the eating times and what was offered. Write down if the child ate or not. Save a copy of the report. Now you'll have something that will prove you are not the cause of ill health to this child.

Continue your communication with the parents and document each conversation. Ask them what the child is eating at home and how much. Ask what the child's favorite meal is, favorite snack, favorite drink, etc...
i think that this is the right corse of action to take here.. thank you and I will have to start doing this. I feel that this will cover everything that will keep me in the clear as well as express my concern to the parents that the child is not eating..
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:53 AM
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I guess this is where I cant just disregard this situation just because the parents dont care, because I do. I dont think that there is anything healthy about a child going all day without food or drink..

I try my best to make meal time fun for the kids by serving food I know they will eat, food that relates to out themes, and often read stories for them during meals.... I do give warnings that meal time will be over in 2 min and etc.

I dont make a big deal out of it, but when it comes down to this situation it gets me so crazed. we have weather that gets over 110 here in a few months and if this goes on, then I am really going to have issues, becuase the child will end up in the hospital from dehydration... the parents will care then right and it will be my fault..

this issue has been going on for months and is only getting worse and worse.. I dont know what to do with this child, because like I said this child has and will go all day with out consuming any food or liquids and I am not ok with this......
Personally, I think you are stressing yourself out unneccessarily. Yes, the weather gets hot...I assume you aren't going to deny the kid a drink of water if he's thirsty right? If his is truly thirsty he will drink.

The reason it has been going on for months and months is because it is becoming a control issue between you and the little one. The more you try to control it, the more he's going to fight it, and the longer it goes on. Truly, try this for a month or so...

At meal time only put a VERY small amount of each item on his plate. Give him 2nds of anything he is asking for. Make sure everything you put on the plate is nutritious or he'll just be eating the "treat" food.

Don't encourage him specifically to eat. Do remind the group that lunch is almost over.

When the time is up, collect his plate and dump it, don't comment on it.

Repeat the process at every meal. And, of course, any child who is outside in 110 degree heat should have access to water at all times. Personally, we'd be inside in 110 degree heat!

Once you take away the control/emotional aspect of eating, the problem will fade away. If the kid were in any real danger Mom, Dad or at the very least the pediatrician would start to look for problems.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:03 PM
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I think that sometimes eating is a control issue for kids. It's one of the only things that they get to be in control of and some kids will definitely do whatever they need to do to be in charge of something in their lives. I think it's that way with toilet training as well.

I know that doesn't make it any less concerning, but it's just something to think about. Also, some kids learn at very young ages that if they don't like the food that they are being served, they can get food that they DO like by either not eating the food or throwing a tantrum. I think that the important thing will be remaining consistent with giving him the time to eat and then if he chooses not to eat, taking his plate away and calling it good. You can't make him eat if he's not willing to eat. I think that a lot of kids these days are grazers and that affects the way that they eat at daycare.

I know that it stinks being in the position of being a provider to a child who doesn't want to eat, but it happens and when it does, it's best to stick to your guns and only offer food at the designated meal times. If he chooses not to eat and you've offered him the food, then you've done your part.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:04 PM
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Personally, I think you are stressing yourself out unneccessarily. Yes, the weather gets hot...I assume you aren't going to deny the kid a drink of water if he's thirsty right? If his is truly thirsty he will drink.

The reason it has been going on for months and months is because it is becoming a control issue between you and the little one. The more you try to control it, the more he's going to fight it, and the longer it goes on. Truly, try this for a month or so...

At meal time only put a VERY small amount of each item on his plate. Give him 2nds of anything he is asking for. Make sure everything you put on the plate is nutritious or he'll just be eating the "treat" food.

Don't encourage him specifically to eat. Do remind the group that lunch is almost over.

When the time is up, collect his plate and dump it, don't comment on it.

Repeat the process at every meal. And, of course, any child who is outside in 110 degree heat should have access to water at all times. Personally, we'd be inside in 110 degree heat!

Once you take away the control/emotional aspect of eating, the problem will fade away. If the kid were in any real danger Mom, Dad or at the very least the pediatrician would start to look for problems.
I dont make this a battle ever.... I do give a nice reminder to eat your food and that is it. if they dont eat, then they dont eat....however this child does this all day and some times for the entire week that they are here. I never make an issue out of who did or did not eat their food..

I think the best way that I can go about it is just to document that the child is not eating and leave it at that..

you can lead a horse to water, but you cant make them drink....

I did what I did today, out of worry that the child once again is not eating....
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:09 PM
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I guess this is where I cant just disregard this situation just because the parents dont care, because I do. I dont think that there is anything healthy about a child going all day without food or drink..

I try my best to make meal time fun for the kids by serving food I know they will eat, food that relates to out themes, and often read stories for them during meals.... I do give warnings that meal time will be over in 2 min and etc.

I don't make a big deal out of it, but when it comes down to this situation it gets me so crazed. we have weather that gets over 110 here in a few months and if this goes on, then I am really going to have issues, because the child will end up in the hospital from dehydration... the parents will care then right and it will be my fault..

this issue has been going on for months and is only getting worse and worse.. I don't know what to do with this child, because like I said this child has and will go all day with out consuming any food or liquids and I am not ok with this......
Ashually I spoke with my daughters doctor about this bc I was concerned with her not eating. He looked at me and said not to that she will eat when she wants to eat. However, do not give her snacks, keep her hydrated through the day. If she is losing weight then there is a problem. It seemed to me every 6 to 8 months something new in her develop would happen and it would trigger her eating or napping at night. She is now 4 yrs old and I am strict with her on her eating. If she does not eat anything at breakfast...she gets no snacks til lunch. If she gets fussy about food at lunch she goes with out...no snacks. By dinner she is hungry. Although she is picky. I don't put up with it at all. The doctor him self said he is not concerned about this. She hasn't loosed any weight and she drinks very well. She prefers juice but I allow her i juice a day... bc she is lactose and can't have milk.. we have found that Silk drinks are the way to go for her as she loves them. I also give my child vitamins and they love this bc there the hero's kind. My son gets his hero's and my daughter the princess ones. I know that this child is pulling on your heart strings and your concerned but if he looks ill or is physically ill from not eating or drinking then yea, there needs to be an intervention. The parents need to be involved and I would strongly advise on contently letting the parents know daily of him not eating or drinking...bc if he does get sick...his parents might very well question you on this and you can just tell them that you have constantly been talking to them about this. I hope this helps.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:51 PM
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In my house, I would simply remove the child from the table when they starting acting up and say "you must be done eating, go wash up".

If you really want the child to actually manage to eat some food, I would separate the child from the group as soon as they start acting up/playing at the table to their own space. They will not get the attention from their peers that they are looking for, and might actually eat a bit or two. Remind them next eating time what happens if they start to play instead of eat.

This is just an idea - I have not had this problem, so i'm just guessing here
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:09 PM
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In my house, I would simply remove the child from the table when they starting acting up and say "you must be done eating, go wash up".

If you really want the child to actually manage to eat some food, I would separate the child from the group as soon as they start acting up/playing at the table to their own space. They will not get the attention from their peers that they are looking for, and might actually eat a bit or two. Remind them next eating time what happens if they start to play instead of eat.

This is just an idea - I have not had this problem, so i'm just guessing here
I just tried this same exact thing at lunch, but with no luck, the child sat and played with the food, cup, fork, napkin, plate, until it all eventually got taken away...

I dont even say anything, I just take it....
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:47 PM
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I have a dcg who eats very little...she is allergic to milk, soy, corn and nuts. Her allergies are funny, cheese is fine for her and soy (like things containing soybean oil) doesnt bother her either, but corn sends her directly to the bathroom...And she's very picky, nothing mushy or soft, no vegetables. She cant drink milk, so she she's given juice or water with her meals....of course she only wants juice. She's been here almost all of her life, and has always eaten like that. She eat what she wants, and when she wants.

Today she ate: 5 spoonfuls of diced pears and a cup of juice. At snack when I told her she had to have water because she had juice at lunch, she promptly threw the plate of grapes and crackers away and went to the library area.

I know it concerns you...because it drove me nuts that the kid never ate. But I assure you she's not starving. I read your other posts about her, and she's got pretty irresponsible parents, so she probably eats a bunch of junk at home. Since you dont serve junk and she knows she can go home and eat it, she just holds out. I'd just continue your routine of serving, allowing time to eat, and throwing away. When she does eat any portion of, praise her. But otherwise, ignore but not ignore.
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:53 PM
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Here they are given a couple of warnings and then the plate is removed and they are removed from the table. There is no "rewards" or "punishments" after the fact. Simple cause and effect. If you are playing then you aren't hungry. And if you aren't hungry then you can move on. As long as the child isn't malnourished, then it's not worth the battle. If his parents don't see it as an issue then I wouldn't worry about it.
This is what I do.

You cannot control what goes in the child's mouth. Plain and simple. It sounds like you have tried to make meals enjoyable for this child and they still are not eating, then there is nothing else you can do.

Have you asked the parents what the child typically eats at home??
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