Saturday, May 28, 2011

You know you have a large number of small children when...

Your discussions about who needs to ask permission to pour a drink start to resemble discussions over gun control.

At this point one of us thinks that because there have been a high number of spills lately, a strategy must be implemented requiring all children to ask for a drink when they want one. The other parent feels that the children who ask permission are not actually those who pose the spill threat, and that those who pose a spill threat are not going to ask for permission no matter how strongly the point is emphasized because 2 year olds don't really listen that well, particularly when trying to assert their independence and ability to care for themselves.

Other moms of a large number of small kids, how do you deal with deciding who is old enough to get a drink independently and who needs to ask permission?


  1. When you *think* Child A -- let's call her Meg -- is ready, make her ask. Then observe her. Repeat until you are sure she is 95% reliable, and then let her pour on her own. That percentage can vary depending on your comfort level.

    If you don't think Child B -- let's call him Patrick -- is ready even to pour at all, do not let him pour. Ever. Or at least not until *you* think he is ready.

    So it's a three-stage process. Sometimes a child can go back and forth between stages.

    1. Child is not ready to pour and is not allowed to pour.
    2. Child matures and may be ready to pour. Child is allowed to pour under supervision.
    3. Child matures and masters pouring. Child is now allowed to pour without supervision.

    This is individualized for every child, of course. Meg might be ready to pour unsupervised at age 3 and Patrick not until age 7. Sometimes unequal treatment is fair.

  2. we try to use exclusively coffee mugs instead of plastic cups now ... they don't tip at all, they have to be purposefully poured out, and with inexpensive correlle dishes I feel we are wasting less money on the few mugs that might break in a year than in the gallons of milk that was being spilled. oh and the milk is on the top shelf, if you can't reach it, you can't pour it. Water is pretty much a free for all.

  3. My 4 kids range from 2-7,5. At this stage the oldest can pretty much get anything she wants, though she usually asks for it. I have a general policy that if they want anything other than water they ask for it. Then if I don't trust their scrawny arms enough to pour it for themselves (or if they don't) I can get up and pour it for them before I have half a gallon of milk or juice all over my kitchen counters and floor. It works pretty well for us, and we have minimal spills. And if someone does happen to splosh a full glass of water on the carpet I don't froth at the mouth in righteous indignation (because, thank the Lord, it's not milk or something that will smell bad before too long). ;)

  4. The first sentence put a big smile on my face:) How I can relate!