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DS 3 - what should I "expect" re. eating and rules at table?

(16 Posts)
LadyPenelope Mon 18-Aug-08 14:36:12

My DS is 3.4 and has become more and more difficult over the last 6 months about sitting and eating his food. We've got into a bad habit of the children eating their meals in front of the TV during the week. At weekends, we all eat together and I've noticed that he's getting more and more challenging over the past few months. Eg, gets up and down, won't feed himself because he'd rather be fed, puts his hands in his drink etc.

We're going to stop the eating in front of TV and go back to what we used to do where they will sit at the table for every meal. And I want him to sit at the table while he feeds himself with a spoon and fork and not throw food about deliberately.

Would really appreciate hearing about other 3 year olds as a point of comparison .... is this a reasonable expecation.

Will probably do a sticker chart to incentivise.

HonoriaGlossop Mon 18-Aug-08 14:44:01

I wouldn't bother with stickers as I think even with the best intentions this will just make mealtimes a point of unhealthy focus.

Great idea - sit together for all meals, bin the tv. Basically, there's only one rule that matters IMO and that's that you sit to eat. When you get up, you have finished. That's it. Food goes and there's no more till the next meal (fruit snacks excepted).

And this is not done in a severe, stern way, but all with a jolly smile! When you're at the table, keep them talking ALL the time and keep them diverted so they don't have time to think of throwing food. I think same rule applies if they do; you're throwing it, so you've finished it.

But the main thing IMO is keep all this totally light and pleasant. Make it a pleasure to sit down with you for a meal.

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Mon 18-Aug-08 14:47:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HonoriaGlossop Mon 18-Aug-08 14:47:18

oh and BTW I really wouldn't sweat it about whether he feeds himself or is fed by you sometimes - it doesn't matter. Whatever he needs and prefers is fine IMO. Even if you feel he should be feeding himself - relax, he won't be asking you to feed him when he's 16! IT won't last.

And FWIW my ds was a very reluctant self feeder, and I never made an issue of it - and thank goodness, because he's been found to have a muscle condition which explains his unwillingness and his difficulties with motor control activities like using cutlery; how bad would I feel if I had made a huge problem out of it. Not suggesting your child will have - just to say that if a child wants to be fed, a child THIS young, it's not really a problem IMO

Heated Mon 18-Aug-08 14:52:30

We have every meal at the table (carpet picnics are a treat) and it's a time to sit round and talk together. Both mine still sit on booster seats which means dd(2) was strapped in for a while as she would get up and wonder away - had a few tantrums over this but she was ignored. They don't have a pudding unless they've eaten their dinner or most of it. They ask to leave the table at the end & then I clear away the debris grin

HonoriaGlossop Mon 18-Aug-08 14:56:55

yes - pudding (even if just yog!) is not served unless meal has been eaten.

I also never insisted on DS staying at the table between courses at this age; or asking to leave the table...I think that's lovely and polite btw, no prob with it just never did it myself, DH doesn't do it so don't see why DS should.

Basically with mealtimes role modelling is ALL. DS is now six and without 'training' he stays at the table, converses beautifully (though mostly about Star Wars hmm) and takes his plate out without being asked, and says thank you for his meal again without being asked etc.

Turniphead1 Mon 18-Aug-08 15:03:16

Lady I am a stickler on this I am afraid. Both my children DD 4.10 and DS 2.10mth sit at the table properly (on the converted trip traps so they are at the right height). Neither gets down until they ask "please may I get down from the table". DS says very cutely "please may can I get down...". Of course he messes with his food is generally giddy etc - he is only 2, but he never gets up and down and runs around. he knows there is zero tolerance on this. (he is not a placid child - he is a typical little boy) As a result I have no problem taking them out to eat regularly as they don't cause havoc.

To be fair to your kids I don't personally think it's "on" to have one rule at weekend and another the remaining five days. I don't think anyone should eat in front of TV (ok, unless its me with a curry, DVD and big glass of wine grin once in a while). If you want to phase it out - I would give them 2 days notice that there will be no TV during meals any more. They will kick off - but will soon get used to it. Sticker charts may be best way forward to get DC3 to improve is manners,but they can be really hard work and do require you to stick at it. If you can be harsh, give him 2 days notice and say any getting up and down will mean no pudding. Stick to your guns and he should get it. I'd have thought (but you must be consistent).

MrsMattie Mon 18-Aug-08 15:05:19

Definitely stop the eating in front of the telly and encourage him to sit at the table with you for all snacks and meals. I think that's the way to go. Once it becomes a normal part of family life he will soon learn by example.

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Mon 18-Aug-08 15:06:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LadyPenelope Mon 18-Aug-08 15:23:50

Thanks for the messages - agree re. TV, we've just drifted into it and I cannot for the life of me remember how or why! So, I'm all set for cold turkey on that - nothing so soft as a 2 day warning! Will get ready with the exciting conversational topics...

I also agree re. no pudding if haven't eaten main and actually do that now too. Pudding in is nearly always fruit/yoghurt in our house anyway, so he doesn't really see it as a sweet treat, so not a huge incentive for him. (Now if it's ice cream, that would be a different matter...)

So, reckon I'm sorted on the rules if he wants to get up and down ... would love some more comparison about how much I should expect him to feed himself. Based on what HonoriaGlossop says, I'm tending towards encourage him/get him to start and then feed him towards the end. Think that's what I did with DD but my poor old brain forgets...

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Mon 18-Aug-08 15:24:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Turniphead1 Mon 18-Aug-08 18:33:39

Good luck on the no telly LadyP. I do recall from the parenting programmes though that it is normal to give some warning of a major rule change. Although I don't agree with malarky about treating children as adults grin - it would be a bit rude if someone decided unilaterally to change a rule on you and didn't even give you a day's warning... Especially for older children who can feel very keenly if something is unfair. IMO, that is a bit unfair - for what it's worth.

LadyPenelope Tue 19-Aug-08 06:32:48

Good point Turniphead1. I decided to go cold turkey though as we've talked about detioriating table manners a bit in the last few weeks and they knew this was likely. They know the rule is actually eating at the table with no TV and that we've just been letting them off with it.

We've now done 2 meals - b/fast and lunch with no complaints and reasonable eating/only getting up once for my ds. So feel like I'm on the right track and for now I'm going to avoid the stickers. Can always do it later if necessary.

And I'm relaxing on the feeding DS - we're encouraging him rather than forcing him. It will come in time.

Thanks

Turniphead1 Tue 19-Aug-08 10:33:50

Brilliant news! well done you. So easy to slip into habits - I have done it a million times and wondered "how the hell have I ended up doing this?".

At one point I was making DS (2.5) a bespoke combination of 3 different breakfast cereals in one bowl each morning. Only when my DH pointed out that I would never have let DD away with that did I catch myself on...

LadyPenelope Tue 19-Aug-08 14:32:26

So we managed a whole day of meals at the table - yay!

And they did OK really. So quite encouraged. Now need to keep it up for the next 15 years!!!!

Pheebe Tue 19-Aug-08 16:42:16

Can I just point out that insisting ALL mains are eaten before pudding could lead to poor eating habits when they're older. You have no idea how hungry they are and insisting on a clear plate means they don't get to learn their own 'full up' signals. You should never insist a child eats all the food they are given.

To get round the problem of them not eating at all, we do ask our nearly 4yo to eat some of everything on his plate and try as had a poss (but don't insist) to get him to stay up with us until we have finished. Usually he continues nibbling but we don't sweat it. He gets pudding unless he hasn't eaten anything at all.

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