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how to go about improving dinning habits of dss so we can all enjoy eating as a family?

(6 Posts)
valleygirl Fri 11-Feb-05 16:50:34


My dp and I are desperate to try and improve the general behaviour of my two step sons at the dinning table. it's not that they are fussy eaters or anything, no complaints there at all, it's just that dinner times can get very stressful because they can't seem to sit still and eat properly without fighting, playign with food and just general terrible manners at the table. Maybe it sounds a bit anal but my dp in particular has an issue with this which makes me stressed and it's almost impossible to enjoy sitting down as a family to eat as a result of the combination of his high standards and the kids sloppy behaviour.
they are 4 and 7 and sometimes it seems they are barely able to use a knife and fork.
We've discussed a sticker chart - anyone have any bright ideas? We do give them 5 minutes time out outside the kitchen if they muck about excessively, but it hasn't helped in educating them in long term. Half term is here and we have them for the week so now's as good a time as any to get them trained!!

bubbly1973 Fri 11-Feb-05 17:07:45

not too experienced on older kids, but what i do with my ds who is 2.7 is tell him that if he eats all his dinner, or most of it, then he can have some jelly, if i find he wont sit still or plays around with his food or doesnt eat what i think is enough because he wants to play with his toys, is warn him that if he goes away from the table he isnt allowed any sweets/crisps/treats all day.

had to do that once, (i think he thought i was bluffing)...i carried out my threat and since then he knows i mean business

so perhaps if you know something that they really enjoy to eat after there meal you can use that as a reward if they sit and eat?

like i say, im not experienced with older children, but i would imagine its harder to try to get older children who havent been used to table manners to change, but i think it is possible, although probably harder than training a toddler

bubbly1973 Fri 11-Feb-05 17:12:47

if they are fighting, is it possible to arrange there seating so they arent together, or do you mean they fight verbally? in which case, if it looks like a fight is about to break out, distract them by talking about something that will intrigue them?

if you see them holding there cutlery well, you could perhaps say 'wow, you are like a grown up eating properly with your knife and fork, we are so proud of you that you can have a xxxx as a treat or go to the park after dinner'...i know its bribery and perhaps you dont want to go down that route, but sometimes when all else fails...

good luck

KatieMac Fri 11-Feb-05 17:29:43

I'd go with bribery too.

I think table manners are so important

Have (or can you borrow) older better behaved children to set an example. Peer pressure is great too.

Offer them a meal at a restaurant if they can prove that they can behave

Good Luck

valleygirl Fri 11-Feb-05 17:38:50

we do deny them desert if they don't behave at the tabel. they sit apart so that they can't kick each other under the table, if they mess about with drinks the drink gets taken away from them, but they do seem to respond to stickers.
anyway gotta go - end of work and all that.
thanks for all advice. i'll checking for any more genius nideas over the weekend!

roisin Fri 11-Feb-05 18:39:53

I think my main tip would be to not get stressed about it. (My boys are 5 and 7.) Dh and I have good table manners (IMO!), but the boys have not picked these up terribly well so far. But they are still very young, and the main thing for me is that we do all enjoy meals together. (We always eat two meals together at the table on weekdays, and three at weekends and holidays.) It's a fun time, and a great opportunity to talk to one another and catch up.

They do sometimes try and wind each other up, depending on their mood. Ds1 is hopeless with a knife and fork and quite messy - but that's another issue. But I do know that getting stressed about it is the one thing that will not improve matters.

When I was growing up we always ate meals together, and - for various reasons - these were generally not happy times for me. My memories of meals are all of particularly bad experiences.

I would far rather our sons enjoyed sharing meals with us, than that they had impeccable manners.

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