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cultural differences in feeding/eating


Spiral
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Hi there, we have a child who has been with us since Sept.

 

He starts school this year and his family speak Bengali.

 

Today his father came in and complained that we do not sit with him and open his packets/breaking his food up and feeding him by putting the food into his mouth.

 

We have tried really hard to get his son to eat with the other children (15 children/4 staff). However the child has laughed at us and said 'no', he has also thrown his food onto the floor and laughed.

 

His father asked if we could designate a member of staff to facilitate this, but we have stated that at school this would not happen and he should learn some independence - this puts him behind in 'health and self care'.

 

Lastly, his father said we 'cannot blame home'. A comment which we are concerned about.

 

I think inviting mum/dad in to see lunchtime would be good, but am running out of ideas,

 

any suggestions?

 

Spiral :-)

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Curiously the EYFS Dev matters says very little about managing your own feeding! However I would expect a child starting reception to be generally able to manage to feed themselves using cutlery, and selecting and carrying a tray usually to their seat! However I'd still be opening packets for them and helping cut up their food if they needed it. Making and eating finger foods was also part of our regular cooking activities - can you use this as a teaching strategy?

 

Do the adults sit with the children as a family group to eat? Do they help the children and model the behaviours?

 

The child may be responding negatively because he is experiencing something radically different to his own experience of feeding and meal times...how much language does the child have to talk about eating with them?

 

As you say maybe having mum and dad to visit and see the meal times might be a useful starting point?

Cx

Edited by catma
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It might not be a cultural difference. Lots of children need help opening packets and cutting up food and even having food put into their mouths. Sitting in family groups is really helpful. I've seen it work wonders and seen the other side where staff hover or stay to one side. I'd go for lots of relaxed patience and friendly chat at the table. :1b

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It's such a difficult one. We have always opened packets (for all children who cannot do it themselves) and we have always sat with him. He says 'no' and turns his head - we did even try to help feed him when he first started with us in Sept, however, he seems to have little or no appetite.

 

He does laugh and turn away and he laughs when he says no. He just wants to play.

 

I'll speak to his parents again - it could be we've misinterpreted what dad was saying - do they force him to eat if he has no appetite? either way, we cannot force him.

 

He just has no interest in food-even when we cook or get the children to make their snacks from scratch.

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I'd lay out his food in front of him and then ignore him. When he doesn't eat, turns away, laughs, says no, throws his food he gets a reaction from you. , Keep praising the children who are eating well, not throwing, not messing about. Chat to him like you would any of the children but dont mention the food. No child will willingly starve themsleves and he might genuinely not be hungry.

Tell him, he can eat like the other children do or he can leave it, but he must stay at the table with his friends because its lunch time. How old is he?

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I thought I had replied.. but seems I didnt..

 

my thought was to do as rea has said.. it is what we used to do with all the children.staying for lunch.

 

i also wondered if parents are having food issues at home.. the comment 'cannot blame home' made me think that they were having issues also his behaviour with food and at meal times.. getting a lot of attention, hand fed, etc. maybe a bit of background about how he eats at home, etc...

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This is interesting. A few years ago, we had a little boy (3 years) who had just arrived from Bangladesh. His parents were in England but he had been with his grandparents most of his life.

Obviously each child/situation is different. There may be other issues with your child but for us, culture definitely had an influence on behaviour and attitudes to snacktime in our setting. In our case, the boy expected to be 'served' by the staff, he just opened his mouth waiting to be fed and snapped his fingers at staff etc.

His father however was very supportive and he told us that he had been treated like a 'king' by the grandparents etc so, over time we were able to help him be independent with the full support of his family.

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We have a little girl who is Bengali and she manages to eat and drink her lunch with no problems - she brings her own (Halal) lunch and sits in a family group with a member of staff. She gets the same help in respect of unpacking her lunchbox as the other children if she is struggling with anything. Perhaps as others have suggested your little one has problems in respect of mealtimes that are not necessarily cultural

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