Life with Preschoolers: Lessons Learned from Child Care

Monday August 2, 2010

If you visit me on Fridays, you’ve heard me mention Susanne, the hostess of Friday’s Fave Five. She not only blogs at Living to Tell the Story, she runs a “dayhome,” providing child care for children during the day.

Susanne wrote a post about lessons she’s learned from doing child care. When I read it, I noticed how many of these lessons can serve as great reminders to parents. With Susanne’s permission, I’ve quoted sections of her post (which you can read in its entirety here). Moms, as you read the lessons she's learned, consider how you can use them to make life with a preschooler easier.

~Preschoolers thrive on routine. Knowing in general what will happen through out the day takes away a lot of anxiety… I'm not talking about being so regimented you can't at all be flexible or change things up, but I do some flexibility within a schedule. My kids thrived on it and so do my dayhome children.

~Realize food issues will happen. I used to stress about this one. I came from a household that belonged to the clean your plate club. I couldn't stand when kids were picky and I was throwing all this food out… But kids are developing their taste buds and what one loves, another will hate.

~ That being said, I also do not run a short order kitchen. Snack and lunch are at specific times -- part of the routine they can count on. I give a couple of options on their plates. For example: I never just put a sandwich down in front of them and demand they eat every bite because that’s all they will get. I also put veggies or maybe serve a soup with it, so if they absolutely can't stand one, they can at least eat the other. If I do serve sandwiches I try to give them options within the sandwich. (For example: choose with cheese or butter or mayo, lettuce or not.) It gives them a sense of control and they are more likely to eat it.

~I have learned to serve small (sometimes what seems to me like teeny) portions to the more picky child and then let them have seconds if they want… They feel proud because they were able to taste and eat their portion rather than being overwhelmed by what seems to them an insurmountable amount set in front of them.

~Again, along those lines, they may not help themselves all day long to food and drinks. Snack is at snack and lunch is at lunch. Juice is for snack time, milk at lunch and if they are thirsty water is available whenever their little hearts desire. They soon learn if they refuse food, it's a ways away until the next eating time. And I always remind them of that fact if they are refusing a meal.

~But along that road is common sense. I don't do this with babies or toddlers who don't understand. This is for the preschooler who is starting to have understanding of consequences that come with their choices. No child ever leaves my house starving but parents tell me all the time they can't believe their child will eat certain things at my house while at home they won't. I know it's because at my house they know the routine and they learn the consequence of not eating their lunches or snacks. They know they are not allowed to help themselves anytime they want and so that makes what they are served just a little more appealing.

~Use timeouts wisely and for definite bad behavior and/or breaking of rules. And be consistent with it. Using it willy nilly nullifies its effectiveness.

~I’ve also learned that all sorts of underlying causes will manifest themselves in outward behavior. When consistent bad behavior is being displayed, I try my best to stay calm and maybe try to discern if something else is going on. A preschooler does not always have the skill to voice what is really going on. Not feeling well, lack of sleep, out of routine, even watching something on TV that upset them but they can't put words to, affects behavior.

~ But the biggest thing I have learned and still remind myself constantly is Don't sweat the small stuff. And most of it is small stuff in the bigger picture!

How’s that for good advice for moms? Thanks so much, Susanne.

What’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received as a mom?
(I like “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of it is small stuff in the bigger picture”!)


Rebecca Ramsey said...

What great advice!
And I agree, "Don't sweat the small stuff" is at the top of my list!

Anonymous said...

One of the best pieces of mom advice I've ever received was not to dread any stage ("the terrible twos," "the rebellious teens"), first because that sets you up to have a negative attitude about them, but also because they don't have to be as bad as they're reputed to be. Each age and stage has its own pleasures as well as difficulties.

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Very true, Barbara. That's a good one.

alicia said...

Great advice!!
I use that small portion thing for my daughter who is 7- she isn't picky all the time, just groans for whatever reason when we tell her what it is. Then as she eats her few bites she realizes she does love it and proceeds to eat a bunch!
Thanks for sharing!

Diane said...

I'm always telling my kids, this is not a restaurant. I think 3 choices is adequate.... :O)

Momma Rhyne said...

Great post!

Connie Arnold said...

Thanks for sharing the great advice! I have young grandsons, and I should share your post with my daughter. Sounds like some advice she could use with her little guys.

Karen said...

Good words, Laura. I love the picky one, that if they eat a tiny bit, they feel proud. Never thought of it that way. said...

Great words of wisdom. I think my fav piece of advice was "Don't blink" not that I can really not blink, but it reminds me that these years are going to go by really fast and I need to savor the everyday moments.

Leann Guzman said...

"...parents tell me all the time they can't believe their child will eat certain things at my house while at home they won't. I know it's because at my house they know the routine and they learn the consequence of not eating their lunches or snacks."

My kids are the same way, eating things other places that they won't eat at home, and trust me when I say we have routine and consequences for not eating at my house, too. Instead, I think (a) being in a different place gives them encouragement to try different things and (b) in a child care setting, peer pressure is a powerful force in getting them to eat something everyone else is eating, too.

I really like the small portions advice, and I use it with success with all three of my kids!

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