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4 year old super messy eater - should I be worried?

(11 Posts)
Bellybee Sun 16-Jun-13 18:12:32

My 4-year old boy cannot seem to eat a meal without getting it all over his face, hands, the table, floor, etc. I have to remind him every few minutes to use the fork and not his hands. I just flipped at him this evening for the state he was in after a bowl of cherries - how do you get so messy with bitesized fruit?! His school pals don't seem to be this messy when they come over. It is driving me potty - but should I be concerned on a developmental level? Or does anyone else have a really messy 4-year-old and can re-assure me that it is - if not ok - at least normal for this age?

rhetorician Sun 16-Jun-13 21:30:41

Not sure! But if you should be worried then so should I. Dd1 was 4 in Jan and is very messy, face, hands, clothes, everything. She can use cutlery but mostly doesn't. But at least she is getting better, slowly. Paying attention to it makes it worse, but I usually just insist that she wipes face and hands before leaving the table...her fine motor skills aren't brilliant, but nothing to worry about. DD2 is 18 months and as a general rule makes less mess. Your son just isn't interested in not being messy. Peer pressure will eventually do the trick

Bellybee Mon 17-Jun-13 07:48:49

Thanks rhetorician. My DD of 8 yrs has just been diagnosed as dyspraxic. I have known for years that something wasn't quite right. With my DS its a different kettle of fish, his fine motor skills are ok, not amazing, but he can write and draw a lot better than she could at this age, and his concentration and organisation are very good (he can sit over a large jigsaw for 1/2 hour) so I'm not sure if I am overreacting to the eating because of my daughter (who by the way was never this messy!). This morning I tried to show him AGAIN how to hold a spoon properly, and he just couldn't do it sad. Not sure whether to be concerned or frustrated - but he does end up getting the full benefit of my impatience...

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Mon 17-Jun-13 12:02:11

It sounds as though he's having trouble with his fine motor skills....he may be better than your DD but still be delayed in that area. If he can't hold his spoon well then I would see the GP about getting some occupational therapy...don't be too concerned though...some DC just take longer and some need more help.

seaweed74 Mon 17-Jun-13 14:22:58

Dd1 is 4.5 years and really struggles with cutlery, only learning to use a spoon in past few months and then only for yoghurt! Hands for everything else. However during our struggles 2 things that I've found helpful are hand over hand to repeatedly show how to use the spoon and the shape of the spoon used. Dd struggles to use a spoon with a thin handle and as she's a chewer too sturdy plastic is best. We use Beaba spoons and forks. I know they're marketed for babies but we've made progress with them.

Bellybee Mon 17-Jun-13 19:14:50

Thanks for the tip Seaweed - reassuring to know I'm not the only one!

Lavenderhoney Tue 18-Jun-13 14:30:45

My dd -4-doesn't like to use cutlery, although I/ we eat all meals with the dc and ds started with a knife and fork and spoon from very young as he hates sticky fingerssmile

I noticed that dd in a restaurant will use a fork just recently and yesterday wanted to learn to use a knife.

About a month ago a co worker of my dh came to dinner and was very kind with the dc and quite young, dd asked if he was a prince and I said yessmile she picked up her cutlery and ate with it for the first time with no fuss. When questioned she said " the prince was here"

NoSquirrels Wed 19-Jun-13 06:51:44

Another one with a very messy 4-yr-old (and a not half-as-bad 2 yr old). In my DD's case it is not motor skills but laziness, I'm afraid, and as someone up thread said, just not being bothered about the mess/sticky hands/face etc. She can cut things up (but tries to get someone else to do it, or just picks up huge chunks of food instead), twiddle spaghetti almost neatly on a fork (but prefers to slurp it one strand at a time, messily) and just finds it less bother to eat with her hands.

We eat together at a table, model good skills, repeatedly remind her, praise the good ... and then get exasperated and shout a bit too, more than we should.

She just is a very messy child - always covered in something, and not in the least bothered by it.

rhetorician Wed 19-Jun-13 17:02:04

no squirrels sounds like our dds would get on like a house on fire! Mine is incapable of doing any thing without making an unbelievable mess. Drives me demented. Like you, we sit at table together for meals, model good table manners etc. I don't much enjoy taking her out to eat, either, so mostly don't

NoSquirrels Thu 20-Jun-13 09:04:04

I am close to banning entirely

a) cake (eats icing disgustingly, leaves cake itself)
b) Kitkats (after going to pick her up from a playdate in immaculate house, and watching her covered in chocolate consuming it one messy layer at a time)
c) yoghurt (self-explanatory)

There are more! I used to think I was lucky, really, to have a child that didn't bother about mess and dirt and was happy to play with a stick in the mud -- nothing worse (for me) than a kid who won't play for fear of a bit of grubbiness. And I am in no way precious about clothes, it's hand-me-downs all the way here and I don't sweat the small stuff.

But now she is heading to school age, I am wondering if we should be tougher. After all, she's not a toddler any more. Hopefully, rhetorician, as you say peer pressure will do the trick. She understands (You can't wear that dress to nursery it will get messy) but just doesn't really care and will wipe her hands on anything she sees, mostly herself...

Lavenderhoney Thu 20-Jun-13 09:13:38

I never said anything really to dd- I made sure she had pretty cutlery, showed her how to use it ( once, then she made such a fuss I gave up and just laid the table anyway with her stuff, which generally went untouched) she would use a small spoon though.

The dc really love a local Italian restaurant and were nagging to go. I said " well, maybe, but dd has to eat nicely, or next time dd, you stay at home with dh and i will take ds" she agreed and we went, and she did. But the dc know I mean what I saysmile

I might say quietly, come on dd, use your cutlery, but I don't give her a battle. She would win, or end up hysterical and not eat. There are other ways to get her to do thingssmile

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