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Rules for the dinner table with kids

(35 Posts)
IlanaK Sat 13-Aug-05 19:22:08

With my ds1, we did not eat together as a family until very recently (I know - very bad parenting). However, we all eat together now (me, dh, ds1 who is 4 and ds2 who is 14 months). I love it and it is great for them both. However, we did have to teach ds1 things like asking to get down from the table when he is finished; waiting for dessert until everyone is ready, etc. These are easy to teach as he is 4, but I am struggling a bit with my youngest. I want things off on the right foot now - not to have to put up with bad behaviour at the table until he is 4 and then teach it.

One of the main problems with him is that he sometimes starts really whiney screaming and throwing things. We do say no, but generally to no effect. Tonight we had enough and each time he did it, we put him on the floor in the hallway. He did not like this one bit and cried and screamed and came back to us. When he stopped crying we put him back in the highchair. He started to get the idea at the end.

I read somewhere that you can't ever make children eat, so don't even try that battle. BUt you can make them sit at the table with you and behave nicely. So, what do you expect of your children at the dinner table (and what age are they) and how do you go about enforcing it?

Littlestarsweeper Sat 13-Aug-05 19:31:04

Absolutely agree with last paragraph Ilanak. We have always sat together and my ds has been a reasonable critter. He did go through a patch of throwing his food or plate or cutlery on the floor and we ignored it. If he throws it or starts fooling around he cant be hungry therefore he can go without. A little trick is not to encourage them to play at the table but maybe read a book until food is ready or others have finished. My Ds is now 3.5yrs but we started him very young he was eating with his spoon at around 9 months and drinking from beakers at 3 months. Hope this helps [smile}

Littlestarsweeper Sat 13-Aug-05 19:32:08

arrrg i meant

hercules Sat 13-Aug-05 19:32:29

14 months is a bit young to sit through adults eating too. I let dd wander round once she's finished and she's nearly 2.

funnyonion Sat 13-Aug-05 19:34:11

I'll be watching this one with interest........ My DS is 15months old and is an expert when it comes to throwing food. We have tried ignoring him, telling him off, taking his food away. I'm afraid i don't have any advice,i'm hoping it's just a phase but am interested to hear what others have to say.

MaloryTowers Sat 13-Aug-05 19:36:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nemo1977 Sat 13-Aug-05 19:36:18

my ds is 22mths and can be a nightmare at the table. WE basically let him eat what he will then he can get down but not leave the dining room at all. He isnt allowed toys aetc so basically tends to sit on the floor and wait but it saves him feeling trapped/confined

IlanaK Sat 13-Aug-05 19:37:42

I don't think he is too young to sit through us eating. HE doesn't eat fast, and we do so generally we are finished eating before him. The screaming and throwing stuff is not a reaction to being finished or bored, it is just generally when he is in a mood. We do have to try distracting him with toys sometimes to eat, but I really don't want to go down that route either. I have a vivid memory of that House of Tiny Tearaways series on tv and the boy (3 or 4 years old I think?) whose mother still pureed all his food and read hiim stories while spoon feeding him!

Littlestarsweeper Sat 13-Aug-05 21:07:09

Ilanak, If he's got time for a mood he aint hungry

frogs Sat 13-Aug-05 21:35:51

Dd2 (20 months): I expect her to sit at the table while she eats; to wear her bib; to keep food on the plate, not the table; to use spoon/fork where appropriate (we do help when she can't manage); to drink from a cup without messing about; and generally not be disgusting.

Dd1 (10yrs) and ds (6yrs) are expected to sit at the table and eat in a civilised manner, ie. use knife and fork appropriately; eat with mouth closed; put k+f down between mouthfuls; not ostentiously pick out the bits they like/ don't like; not talk/drink with mouth full; wipe mouth on napkin not hand or sleeve; not moan about or criticise the food; not wave cutlery round in the air, or elbow other people; join in conversation in pleasant manner. I think these are reasonable expectations from about 4 onwards. I don't try to force them to eat if they're not hungry, though I do sometimes try to encourage them; but I have a v. low tolerance level for children messing about with their food.


With the older ones, a simple reminder is usually enough, though I do sometimes find myself sounding like Mrs Manners Hitler. With dd2 I have once or twice whisked her out and sat her on the stairs for deliberate and provocative messing about, or shrieking. If she plays around with the food I put it out of her reach.

I know plenty of people do think I'm anal, but they are usually the same ones who marvel at the kids' manners as though they are freaks of nature. And whose 7 yolds eat spag bol with their fingers. Decent table manners matter to me, and it can be achieved without too much difficulty. You just have to be consistent.

trefusis Sat 13-Aug-05 21:42:15

Message withdrawn

foxinsocks Sat 13-Aug-05 22:18:58

mine are 5 & 3

No getting down until everyone is finished

No pudding till everyone finished first course

Keep all food on your plate (this for ds who likes to separate his food into different groups and spread them around) and eat over your plate

Attempt to eat whole meal with knife and fork/spoon before resorting to fingers

No toys/books at the table

Milge Sat 13-Aug-05 22:24:45

3 year old twins:

Use appropriate cutlery
No speaking with food in mouth
No toys/books etc at table.
once they have got down from the table, their meal is over - ie no rushing away from the table and then expecting to resume their meal after a 10-15min gap. Exceptions are using the potty, although trying to get them to use potty/wash hands before( not v successfully)
Saying thank you for their food
Putting cutlery on plate and telling me that they have finished

colditz Sat 13-Aug-05 22:27:23

Mine is 2.5.

Food stays on the plate.

Fork should be used.

Throwing or spitting food ends the meal, plate is taken away, and you will be ignored for 2 minutes.

No toys on the table with food.

Sit at the table until we are finished.

Food does not leave the table.

We do not feed our meals to the cat. The cat has his own food, in the kitchen.

Yoghurt is not served until a sizable proportion of dinner is gone.

We do not dip things in milk, water or juice. This includes pork chop.

Hulababy Sun 14-Aug-05 21:46:46

DD is 3y 4m.

* stay sat at table throughout meal, except for toilet if needed
* use cutlery as appropriate (fingers allowed also if appropriate)
* please and/or thank you when asking for things
* no toys
* only leave table when finished her meal; just started to introduce asking if she can leave table

We have slightly adjusted rulkes for when eating it, or if it is a long meal with others present.
Then toys/books are allowed, as is a short get down from table to maybe go and see someone at other end of table (between courses only).

cod Sun 14-Aug-05 21:49:37

Message withdrawn

Lonelymum Sun 14-Aug-05 21:51:52

Do they wee on it though Cod?

fairyfly Sun 14-Aug-05 21:51:55

Always lick your knife and keep your elbows on the table because my god if you don't you could be ruining world peace

cod Sun 14-Aug-05 21:52:23

Message withdrawn

luckylady Sun 14-Aug-05 21:53:31

Ilanak- my ds is 14months old we do sometimes put him in his highchair and feed him with us , but I have found that if I give him his plate or more than two pieces of food he plays with it and throws it. I now only give him one piece of food at a toime and he eats that then points for more. Generally though he eats before us. I think it is good that he sees the rest of you sitting at the table and eating as a family he will learn ith time and be happy to do so.

HondaDream Sun 14-Aug-05 22:03:26

mine are 5, 6 and 7

you sit properly
you use a knife and fork
you wait for everyone to sti down before eating
you always pass to guest sa nd others first
put your knife and fork on plate when finished
Ask toleave the table
Always say thankyou
teatime with kids of any age is never perfect you can jsut try your best

Caligula Sun 14-Aug-05 22:04:32

I'm cutting and pasting all these. I'm going to organise them and print them out and put them next to the dining table!

MarsLady Sun 14-Aug-05 22:10:02

incl. not dipping the pork chop!

Twik Sun 14-Aug-05 22:16:59

I feel so ashamed! My 3-year-old daughter has AWFUL table manners and is a terrible eater. I can barely get her to stay on her seat for more than about 3 mouthfuls of a meal (when she does eat she does it very tidily though!). After that she wriggles and makes a fuss, she doesn't seem to care if I say that's the end of the meal and doesn't like desserts. I wish I could make some of these rules work with her. I think you're all very impressive.

cod Sun 14-Aug-05 22:17:10

Message withdrawn

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