>Dear Dr. Hackney,
My daughter Maggie brings a snack to school for half-day Kindergarten. She usually brings water and a granola bar. She has discovered that her teacher has snacks for kids who forget their snack. These are sometimes more inviting than hers (chocolate Teddy Grams today). Occasionally, Maggie is eating her snack and then telling the teacher she doesn’t have one or doesn’t like the one she brought and gets another one.
I’m concerned because Maggie and I are in the midst of an ongoing dialogue, argument, about food, which I know is not a good dynamic. When I approached the teacher, she just laughed about it and said she knew Maggie just wanted the other snack. I don’t want to set up a dynamic where she is eating two snacks or a power issue around food between Maggie and me.
Mother of two, ages 3 and 5 years
My first comment is you are right; you don’t want to be arguing about food intake with Maggie. It is not a good pattern and can easily send a wide variety of wrong messages about foods. It also opens the door to food as a battle ground in general.
I also think it is fine that you want her to have just one snack and you want it to be the snack you provide. It seems your issue here should be more with the teacher and less with Maggie. You are well within your rights to ask the teacher to give Maggie a snack only on the days you actually forget. Otherwise, I would make it clear (nicely and out of Maggie’s earshot) that you want her to be offered what you provide and not a second choice or snack. You can blame it easily on that she’s not eating as much of her lunch (or dinner) because she is filling up on the snacks. You can also assert that you are trying to focus on healthy choices without making it a big issue with Maggie and the extra or replacement snacks are undermining your efforts. Again, this is with the teacher not Maggie. It is best if Maggie is not a part of this process. Hopefully, the teacher will just remind her by saying, “Oh, you already have your snack today” or “If you have something from home that is your snack.”
To help your cause, shake up things by providing a variety of snacks from day to day. Try to be fun, and ask Maggie to make some choices about what snack should be.
If the teacher laughs again when you bring it up, you can say, “No, really…” And ask for her to support you and, hopefully, not to blame you when she is not sharing those snacks as often.
Rene Hackney, PhD.
Parenting Playgroups, Inc.