View Full Version : Fussy 4 year old... and general HELP!

07-10-2011, 08:21 AM
I have a 4 year old boy, R, with me 2 - days a week before and after school. I'm finding him quite a challenge! he's not naughty he's just rather sullen and difficult.

I'm sure he's just being a typical 4 year old boy, quite demanding with a good dose of stroppy. And a lot of this I can forgive as he's going through a tough time at home with his parents havimg split up just this summer.

my biggest problem with him is meal times. He really doesn't like much and I don't really want to send him home every time having just eaten sausage & mash or meatballs in sauce (nothing with it honestly he'll only eat the meat & sauce) Also this isn't great for us as we do a family dinner... and we're going to get sick of these 2 dishes rather fast too!
Any good ideas for coaking him into trying other things? Please!

I will confess that I have half a mind to give notice to his mum... I've made the error of minding kids older than my own (my boy is 20 months) and do feel that if I get a couple more toddlers book in I can afford to lose this lad
(I only opened about 8 weeks ago, currently mind 1 6 yo girl, who is just fantastic once you're past the constant chatter thing, a 20 month old girl and have another 20 month old girl due to start although both young ones are only 1 day a week)

I'm actually already at the point of not looking forward to the days I have R :(

07-10-2011, 08:32 AM
You have to take the rough with the smooth in this job I'm afraid.

I have 9 on the books and I've cared for many, many children over the years... some are fab, some are sulky, some choose not to talk, some don't eat much variety, some talk constantly, some have nits, some need medical care, some are disabled and need extra support, some are too cute for words, some you just don't take to for one reason or another, some are great but parents are a challenge, some push boundaries constantly... but once they are settled with me I wouldn't dream of giving notice unless there was a serious issue.

Of course I'm not saying you should continue with a child who you are struggling with, especially if you are new to the job. That wouldn't be fair on either you or the child.

I suggest you chat with the child's mum and find out about his home and family life and see what she has in place to support him there. She might be able to give you some ideas.

Hth :)

07-10-2011, 09:09 AM
HI :),
Sounds like you're putting an awful lot of energy into this mindee for very little return. I would say from the info you have given that he has attention issues and this is probably 'feeding' them.
It shouldn't be your responsibility to coax him into eating, well not to the point where its making you miserable anyway :( .
I would be happy and cheery around him in general, but totally 'not notice' any sullen or difficult behaviour that he is probably displaying to get attention - switch your attention to somethingor someone else when this happens. There are much better ways to get attention. I would reward any cooperative behaviour with attention and praise but ignore the rest of it. You provide him with activities and resources I'm sure, so its then up to him whether he enjoys them or mopes about. I think he'll soon learn its more fun to join in than sit around with a long face.

regarding the food issue, I would say, how about giving Mum a list of the meals you all eat ( I wouldn't change your families eating habits to suit one mindee!) and finding out which ones he likes. If he doesn't like what's for tea you'll know in advance and either Mum can provide something or you could offer something different but that isn't hassle, e.g. toast, fruit, yoghurt etc (make a list of things you'd be able to provide easily and get he to tick each thing he would be happy to eat. Then you don't need to be plagued with guilt if he doesn't eat it - its his choice).

To avoid this minefield I have deliberately not offered cooked dinners for mindees. My lot get a snack rather than tea which keeps them going till they get home (one 4 year old till after 6!) I ask parents which fruits they definitely like and which they definitely do not like. They get a dish of fruit first and if they eat it all they may have a yoghurt. If they eat that too and are still hungry they can have a choice of toast, sandwich or bread with something on it - its more or less a picnic lunch! This way I know they have eaten something reasonably healthy and are not hungry, but I'm not wasting my time cooking meals that wont be eaten or wasting valuable energy trying to talk them into it.

I hope you can find a way to lessen the load with this but if you can't there's no reason you should be dreading work. This is your business and its up to you which mindees/families you work with. Do what makes you happy. :thumbsup: For me that would be try a different approach with a time limit and if the improvement isn't enough, to give notice.

Good luck, let us know how it goes :)

wendy :)

07-10-2011, 09:58 AM
Thanks folks I really do appreciate advice from all of you with so much more experiance than I have!

Yes notice is an extreme option and I can see I'm being soft there so will "man up" as my hubby says lol

R is generally an OK kid, just with lots going on at home and I do really feel for him there. he is great with craft activities and really gets stuck into them and I was inwardly really chuffed when our craft from Tuesday, a rock bug, was then taken with him to school for show and tell :D His mum did say he's not put it down yet.

Hi mum did say when we were doing contracts etc that he is a fussy eater, and I think she lets him get away with an awefull lot at home. He will try foods begrudgingly and I do reward him with priase etc when he does try.

I will persevere! think of me folks for later lol....

07-10-2011, 11:02 AM
If he's crafty then you could try some food activities with him, making pizza faces, decorating biscuits, making smoothies that he'll enjoy making in the hope that he'll give them a try a dinner time.

You could also try making food that you know he'll eat some of so things like sausage casserole, toad in the hole in the hope that eventually he'll try some of the other stuff on the plate. And if he doesn't and still only eats the sausages then at least he's had a bit of food and is getting used to seeing other foods on his plate.
Or I would make other meals with mash and just let him eat what he wants on the plate without any fuss if he leaves some.

Maybe get him to help you make the meatballs and another day get him to help you make burgers as it's the same ingredients so he might try them.

07-10-2011, 11:16 AM
I'd get him involved in making/preparing and tasting food, this often helps and quite quickly. Often at home parents give their child food, they say they don't like it and are never given it again! Exacerbated by mum saying 'oh you don't like that do you?' every time it comes near! When I have a fussy one, out it all comes - We play with food, talk about how good it is to taste things often just 'to check' we really didn't like it, kids like to help chop, mix stir and choose food/recipes to try. We go shopping for what we need (when there is time, eg hols). Lots and lots of activities (even with play food).
As for the sullen behaviour, it is firmly ignored in our house and we are extra jolly around the child. He may just be tired after a long day at school too, so maybe ask him in the morning what he'd like to do after school ( I normally give a couple of choices ) to give him something to look forward too.

07-10-2011, 12:07 PM
WRT to the food, I would make your normal family meal, and offer that. If he chooses not to eat it then don't make a fuss, don't try to coax him to eat it, just offer toast instead - don't amend your family menu to suit one child. If he was a toddler, or had intolerances or allergies then I would advise differently, but he's 4 and he's being fussy.

Definitely involve him in the making of meals if you can.

If mum lets him get away with a lot, and gives him lots of attention over mealtimes (trying to coax him to eat or making him 'special' meals) then it may be that the fuss is a way of getting attention.

07-10-2011, 12:23 PM
I have a new school child - a boy who is 4.

I don't do evening meals anymore because it was too much hassel and a lot of food was wasted - so we have snack after school

This boy will not eat fruit of any kind and when he came insisted on blackcurrent to drink. I think I fuss has been made at home as he was very worried about being told off for not eating the food and would claim to have tummy ache but as I never force a child to eat or to finish whats on the plate this child has now relaxed a little about food

Now he drinks milk, has a yogurt and always has fruit or veg on his plate and although still not eating it - he does touch it, smell it and sometimes nibble it - so an improvement.

Penny :)

07-10-2011, 12:31 PM
Thank you everyone! going to try some of this excellent advise out tonight and have made sure I have everything in to make some pizza's and get him involved in it too :D

07-10-2011, 05:27 PM
Sucuess tonight!! got him to help make pizza dough (ok its cheese scone lol) and "decorate it" he even chose to put a piece of mushroom on along side ham tomato ad cheese... and finished it off!

today has been a whole load easier but its obvious he craves attention, we did a story time and he virtually sat himself on my lap

07-10-2011, 06:09 PM
Sucuess tonight!! got him to help make pizza dough (ok its cheese scone lol) and "decorate it" he even chose to put a piece of mushroom on along side ham tomato ad cheese... and finished it off!

today has been a whole load easier but its obvious he craves attention, we did a story time and he virtually sat himself on my lap

well done, glad you had an was easier day :thumbsup: Any small amount of positive attention like this will help him break his cycle of negative attention seeking. Sounds like he needs loads of cuddles.