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Eating while Playing...-Good or Not?

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  • #46
    I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to share my two cents, for what they're worth.

    The hands-down biggest issue is consistency. Like kverz pointed out, it's much *easier* for a parent to write their child's behavior off as 'childish' or 'spirited' and to let the child dictate the household norms. Less discipline, less work, less confrontation. Raising disciplined, well-mannered children takes tons of time, the patience of a saint, and (above all else) consistency. Children need the adults in their lives to teach them societal norms and to instill in them boundaries and self-regulatory tools. Making a child sit down to eat their meals is not oppressing them. It's teaching them restraint, manners, and consideration-- all of which will benefit them greatly in life.

    I spend several mornings a week at High/Scope Early Childhood Education Programs, working with children aged one and a half through five. Despite the fact that I'm a social worker with over ten years of experience and I studied developmental psych at Uni, I was still *amazed* to see what the teachers at High/Scope ECEP have been able to accomplish. By creating regular routines, clear expectations, and being across-the-board consistent in enforcing the norms, the children are allowed to flourish and take control over their own creative learning process. It's incredible, really. The first time I witnessed a snack time, my jaw almost hit the floor.

    IMAGINE: A room of twenty two and three-year-olds. Each three year old politely sits down at the table after washing his or her hands. The teacher asks one of the students to read the chore chart. Without any assistance, a TWO-year-old reads the chart. Then, each student performs their assigned task, no complaints and no problems. (In fact, they're excited to do their share!) One passes out the forks, one passes out the cups, one passes out the plates, and one POURS THE WATER. (A two-year-old, pouring water from a pitcher...) Then, the teacher comes around with the snack option. Each student is allowed to take as much or as little as they please, but they must eat everything that they take. (To teach them about moderation and self-control.) The students eat politely, while still acting like children. There's discussion and giggling and the occasional spilled water or dropped food item, but there's no yelling, no running, no rudeness. If they make a mess, they get up, get a towel, and clean it up-- without prompting. When they're done eating, they stack their plates, forks, and cups neatly on the tray, wash their hands, and then play quietly until all of their other friends are finished with snack.

    These aren't gifted-and-talented, exception-to-the-rule children I'm talking about-- they're diverse in age, ability, religion, and upbringing. Some of them even have autism, ADHD, and other learning and behavioral disorders. Not only are they learning the three R's, they're learning to become productive members of the global community. They're learning about why they can't always follow their every urge and every whim and why they need to think about how their actions effect others. They're learning discipline and moderation and structure. And through that structure, they're allowed to explore and be creative and play and grow.

    This isn't meant to be an advert for High/Scope-- what I'm trying to say is that there is no child too 'energetic' or too 'difficult' to teach structure and discipline to-- and structure and discipline aren't optional skills. For a society to flourish and for people to coexist, we must be concerned about the whole and we must teach our children to think holistically. Like the 'Dog Whisperer' always says... There are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Not that children are dogs, but you get where I'm going with this... Children are malleable. They're sponges. It's up to parents and their caregivers to form them. If they are behaving in a way that you don't like or approve of, it's not the child that's doing something wrong-- it's you.


    • #47
      A good playgroup/kindergarten makes all the difference. Not to say the kids won't be followed around after school by a nanny with a spoon but having learned to interact responsibly with others they will have a head start later in life.


      • #48
        Originally posted by gffgold View Post
        A good playgroup/kindergarten makes all the difference. Not to say the kids won't be followed around after school by a nanny with a spoon but having learned to interact responsibly with others they will have a head start later in life.
        I suspect that children do not learn to act responsibly from other children. Participating in a play group is all well and good, especially one well organized, purposeful, and closely supervised by knowledgeable, caring adults, such as in Samantha's example.

        BTW, consistency as in consistent, fair application of norms and expectation in a classroom setting generally provides an anchor for small minds trying to make sense of their environment. But as in most things moderation in the Hallmark; consistency is a means, not an objective in and of itself.


        • #49
          Young children will gladly do whatever it takes to get approval and positive attention. Playgroup kids WANT to give out the spoons or help with the water. Kids will also take food from a spoon if that's what makes nanny and mommie happy. If stamping their feet and screaming is rewarded with cuddles and candy, then so much the better.


          • #50
            Yes, it should bother you. Children at this age should be encouraged to be independent and to properly learn self-help skills. In this simple task, if you are not able to instill this to the your child, i presume you may have difficulty to teach him/her things that she should be doing by him/herself later on.


            • #51
              Originally posted by kverz View Post
              Hi dudulpretz,

              Training kids need a lot of patience. You have to start while they are younger. Make it a habit for her to sit down everytime she have her meal. Even if she rans away, chase her and put her back to the chair. If she is not old enough to hold the spoon by herself, spoon-feed her but sitting down. Keep repeating the process again and again and eventually you will be surprised how they can remember the habbit of doing it. If they tantrum and cry, be firm, grab her and make her sit down. Explain it to her why she is not allowed to ran while eating. Children can understand gestures at young age so I usually point my finger up and say No, you are not allowed. No!

              Now my daughter will even ask me to sit down in the dinning area when she wants to eat.

              I do the same with potty training. At 19 months old, my daughter is potty trained. It is just a hard work in the first few days but eventually when they get used to the habbit, you will enjoy the fruit of your hardwork.

              You started potty training in the right time. I started at age 2 and half and after 4 months still I have problem. First I bought a toilet seat and later a potty. Using them by my daughter is a big dream now.
              "Life is the thought of smelling flowers on the soil of another planet." Sohrab Sepehri


              • #52
                I was raised pretty simple... play time is for playing, dinner time is for eating, and the two are mutually exclusive.
                bassist, perl ninja, random stranger