Dreadful table manners(5 Posts)
My (just) seven year-old almost physically incapable of staying sat down of more than 30 seconds when he's eating. He stands on his chair, stands next to it, finishes his food then tries to run away from the table… He just won't bloody sit still.
I'm trying to install decent table manners in him - I think that sitting down to eat your dinner isn't much to ask - and now he's 7 he has no more excuses. He manages it in restaurants or when he has tea at other people's houses so I know he's capable of it, so why won't he do it at home? Does anyone have any tactics/advice that they could share?
I could be way off but to me it doesn't sound like troublesome, attention-seeking behaviour. Just an issue in sitting down.
At this age a boy's physical skills can often be lagging behind the rest of their development so they actually do have problems sitting still and concentrating. He can probably manage it at another's house or a restaurant because he knows he has to and puts a huge amount of effort in. At home where he's more relaxed it's possibly more difficult. Get him up and moving about as much as possible during the day (I know he's in school and is probably quite tired when he gets in but as much as you can!) and pick your battles. I agree that he should stay at the table until everyone is finished and should probably not stand on his chair for safety's sake but he'll grow out of it, I'm sure. I wouldn't make it a big issue when it's possibly something he genuinely finds difficult. Gentle reminders to sit down often and distracting him with conversation before it becomes an argument etc.
Thank you Nanny Nim. On reflection overnight I came to the same conclusion - just needed a bit of perspective. I think we'd had a particularly stressful day yesterday and this was the final straw! All my friends (particularly with boys around this age) seem to have the same problem, so as you say it's most like to be a developmental thing.
There are two things that might help him. One is a wobble cushion to sit on. This inflatable cushion takes effort to balance on and the slight readjustments his muscles need to make constantly might replace his need to make greater movements and enable him to sit for longer.
Another useful strategy is putting a gym band around the legs of his chair a few inches up to give him something to push on with his feet. Again it removes the need for the bigger movements, hopefully enabling him to sit for longer.
You could give him legitimate opportunities to move during the meal by sending him to get things from the kitchen, thereby allowing him a break from trying to sit still.
This video might help explain why he needs to move so much in the first place.
Thank you Goldmandra for really helpful advice. That video is a revelation - my son is continually chewing his t-shirt!
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