My daughter is 5 years old, and intensely self-conscious. Sometimes. And very, very timid. Sometimes. And it's a little unpredictable. So starting school last year was challenging for us all. Now she's midway through Kindergarten. And in my eyes, knowing her as I do, she is doing incredibly well! She has no problem when I leave her at school in the morning. (anymore) She reports having a good day, every day. By report she is doing well at school. She comes home enthusiastic about what she's done at school, and loves to write and draw. She's made loads of friends, and the kids really seem to love her. Before school started, she would barely engage with other kids at all. All great stuff.
But, she refuses to eat at school. She won't use the bathroom at school, ever, unless I am there. She won't throw anything away at school. Not ever.
My interpretation? My daughter is making the best of the situation, but is taking control wherever she feels she can. Because otherwise she feels completely out of control of the situation.
So, after two months of the school year had passed and my daughter had not eaten anything for snack or lunch, I decided it was time to act. The school felt the same. So I started to put things in place to "encourage" her to eat. Or really, to discourage her from NOT eating. I told her she could have no sweets at home on the days she didn't eat. I took away after school outings. And so forth. And the school, from what I've been told, informed her that she had to have at least three bites of food at each meal. They threatened to take recess away from her, her favorite part of the school day. All of this, or some of this, worked. She started eating at school. Granted she turned "at least three bites" into "I only have to eat three bites," but she ate. Then she got incredibly picky about what her lunch could be. We ended up giving her 6 bites of pizza every day. Three bites for snack, three bites for lunch. For weeks. Then suddenly, two weeks ago, she stopped eating. Every day, when I picked her up, she would inform me that she hadn't eaten that day. She was upfront about it, but had no explanation. The only thing she could come up with was that there was a teacher watching over lunch who did not usually do so. This threw her off. But how does that explain a run of not eating, which, to this point, has been two and a half weeks?
Sighs. So I decided to take a different approach this time. Instead of approach it as a discipline problem, which I never thought it was to begin with, I decided it was time to try to find out what makes her so anxious that she needs to take control in these ways. I didn't feel like giving her consequences for something that she herself doesn't understand. Let me add that the school, of course, has noticed, and has appealed to me to act in some way. Or decide what should be done about it. I have mentioned, twice, that I want to figure out what the problem is, instead of making the resulting eating issues the problem. Does that make sense? One teacher stated that perhaps part of it was anxiety and part was behavioral. Regardless....
So today, with some pressure from school, I discussed the situation with DD in the car on the way home. At first, she told me that she couldn't talk with me. Then she said that she doesn't like people watching her, and wants to eat by herself. I told her that this was not really possible at school, as it was expected that the group eat together. I asked her if she would eat if she could sit near the group but on her own (she had been doing this at the beginning of the year. Not eating, but sitting separately) and she said yes. Hm. So I emailed her teacher, and I await a reply.
There are a couple of other situations at school where the school feels DD should be made to conform to the school-day routine and DD feels differently. One is greeting other students in front of the entire school each morning. She puts her head down and refuses. Another is speaking up in class. Again, unless she is feeling confident at that moment, she won't.
I am curious. What would you do? Would you insist that she get with the program and do what the school expects her to do without question? Would you accept your child's discomfort and try to find a way for her to fit in while keeping her desires/comfort level in mind? Would you seek an environment that suited your child's temperament better? (i.e. Montessori, where no child is forced to speak in front of the class unless he/she chooses to)Thanks for your thoughts.
How to wrap
2 years ago