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Question
Posted by: Working mom | 2008/07/16

Difficult toddler

Hi Doc
I am a working mom, and only comes home at about 19:00 at night. By then my 4 year old son has been collected from day care by his grandpa and then again collected by either myself or my husband. My son would be very happy and chirpy, until we drive off from my parent's place. He then would demand to have at least a hamburger or a sweet or something to drink bought for him. I mostly refuse, because I don't want to re-start a habit. He used to get a little something when I would buy the bread and milk, but I've stopped going to the shops after he's been collected completely. This happened because I realised that he is dehydrated by the time he comes from day care and unfortunately the habit has been created. It has gone well for a while, but we have changed day care centres last year, and now he comes home even more thirsty and hungry. We changed day cares because I have discovered unacceptable sexual exploring happening between the older boys, with the younger ones (girls and boys) exposed to that.
When I ask him why he is so hungry lately he would first lie and say they don't get food, but after a bit of probing, he admits to not eating his food. The day care also confirmed this. I have heard from other parents however that the children are fed rice with gravy everyday, iso the promised, more balanced eating plan.
I never used to force the issue of him eating (he's never been a good eater) for fear of other pshycological eatng problems later in life. But now, he'd rather have flavoured milk at home than actually eating. I am starting to believe that is too lazy to eat, because when we offer to feed him, he eats quite willingly.
The other problem is, that when he comes home from school, he is in a terrible mood (I can only assume it is low blood sugar levels) and he screams and shouts and throw tantrums and is just plain unreasonable. It usually end up in us having one hell of a fight before we even had a chance to make a quick sarmie. Usually after he had a drink and something to eat, he is his beautiful charming self.
Have I been too lenient with his eating behaviour? How do I correct that?
How do I handle this screaming and shouting child? I do not want to fight and scream before we even had a little snuggle and kiss after the long day. (it's no use trying that with him before he's eaten something, he just gets vicious)
Should I confront the day care about the food supplied?
Would it be wise to change day cares again so soon after the previous change. He adapts quickly, and has already made very good friends at the current day care. There is also no more screaming fits before having to go to day care - he even forgets to greet me once he's there!
I hope that you can help me based on the info supplied.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

AGain, I am amazed that our many experienced moms haven't responded to your long and detailed question. This is not a psychiatric problem, so I have no special suggestions to offer --- maybe the parenting forum would be useful if you would copy and re-post this question there

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: ME | 2008/07/17

19h00 is extremely late for a 4 year old to eat supper especially if his last meal was at midday. If his grandpa cannot cannot feed him for whatever reason, I suggest that you provide him with a meal for your son. Make a extra portion when you make supper and then freeze it. Take it with you when you go to work the next day and then when you fetch your son give it to his grandfather (get a little cooler bag to keep it in while at work). Tell him that it is for the next evening, would he mind just warming it and giving it to your son after he has fetched him.

As for the food at the creche, if they have indicated that they feed the children during the day then they are required to give them decent meals. I would definately bring this up with them. The daily menu for the week MUST be displayed for parents to see and they must stick to it . If they do not provide meals or decent meals then either move him or ask if you can send a snack with to school. You should get what you are paying for though.

Reply to ME
Posted by: julie | 2008/07/17

Obviously this child is hungry that is why he screams and performs, if u hungry u r gonna snack right, how do u think he feels, maybe u should put extra food in his lunchbox, or buy him a healthy snack before collecting him. To me as a mother there is nothing worse than a starving child, i ' ve seen it with nieces and nephews that is why i always keep a snack with me always, kids cannot control hunger pangs the way we adults do. At my childs daycare he also gets lunch but no breakfast that is why i always put in a sandwich, yoghurt and cookie as extra and trust u me by the time he gets home he has finished everything in his lunch box. Boys r different from girls they need to eat, snack all the time, thats why if u can always try and have something handy for him to snack on.

Reply to julie
Posted by: Lin | 2008/07/17

I agree with Maria. Speak to them about the food if it worries you. Also, your son's blood suger levels drop so quickly, I would suggest asking the granddad to take a sarmie along when fetching your lo. He can eat it in the car on the way home. Make a snackwich and put in mince and veg, so that it's atleast a little bit healthy.
Also maybe a flavoured water in stead of flavoured milk.
Then when you get home give him at least 10 minutes of undevided attention.
Good Luck!

Reply to Lin
Posted by: Maria | 2008/07/16

There is a couple of issues here... Yes I would speak to the daycare. If you were promised one thing, and you're paying for it, but now your child gets something else then they need to make a plan.

Does he get all his food for the day at the daycare, or do you also pack a lunchbox? Where my daughter goes they get sarmies midmorning and lunch (spaghetti bolognaise / vetkoek / hotdogs). We pack a lunchbox for mid afternoon, and supply a 500ml bottle of iced tea which she likes to drink. She is a fussy eater and often doesn't eat the lunch, but then she can eat the fruit and dried fruit in her lunchbox a bit later. We also add a biccie or sweetie, but if she doesn't eat her fruit then no sweets the next day.

Perhaps he likes being fed because that means he is getting your undivided attention?

Is he getting enough sleep?

Perhaps you can leave a healthy snack and drink with grandpa each night which he can give to your son when he picks him up. Then he should be in a better mood by the time you or hubby fetch him.

Good luck!

Reply to Maria

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