Sitting down through dinner

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by monica77, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. monica77

    monica77 Well-Known Member

    I need some advise - so here I am ladies.
    Our son Max is driving us CRAZY about dinner. He will be 5 in Sept. He is a big kid for his age - 45 inches and about 48 pounds. I think he's growing a lot lately and his brain is evolving fast. He's a social kid, he loves being around other kids, he likes to sing, he knows his letters and numbers and he's usually a nice kid- not that he's mine :) - but he's pleasant in general.
    However lately he became SO ANNOYING about eating his meals especially at dinner and I am not sure what the right approach is. Most evenings we have to punish him, yell at him, and he's taking his SWEET time eating - he is a slow eater in general. He drags the process by going to get a toy, or remembering he has to go to the bathroom, go get a book. We started to make him go to the toilet before dinner - he always says no - then 2 bites into his dinner all of a sudden he needs to go. It's like a game. 
    I am really considering sending him to bed without dinner - but he's really cranky when he doesn't eat. Most nights after yelling, and blackmailing him, I end up spoon feeding him a few bites so he doesn't go to bed hungry - but I realize that's not a good solution - and I had arguments with my husband because of this. So I know I need to fix this for Max's sake and our sanity. Is it OK if I let him not have dinner a few nights to realize I mean business?And if so - how long do I keep doing it? Any suggestions about how to help him STAY in his chair the whole time without sounding like I am a BAD COP? 
    I will add that he likes any kind of food, he is eating his veggies and meat and anything we give him - he even likes spicy stuff, so he's not a picky eater - but it's a struggle to keep him at the table. He is doing this if he had a snack in the afternoon or if he didn't or if we are eating his favorite meal or something new.
    The one recent dinner at home that I remember him eating without issues was when we had spaghetti and he was so interested in playing with it - but he ate the whole meal without getting up. Or when we had dinner at our neighbor's house - he sat down and ate his meal, or when we go to restaurants - so he is capable of doing it. I would not force him to eat his whole meal - but he gets up after 2 bites - and I don't think that's enough for him, plus he returns and eats one more bite, then he leaves again. He knows he doesn't need to finish everything - but it's not acceptable to keep getting up.
    Also, he used to be a great eater - that's why he's so big, this is an issue that started in the last few weeks. It seems like lately we are having lots of arguments about food with him - and I realize we need to make this stop somehow.
    Thank you for your help - sorry this is so long.
  2. Katheros

    Katheros Well-Known Member

    We went through something similar with one of my twins, honestly I can't remember now which one it was.  We instituted a rule that if you get up from your seat, you're done.  There's no food after that, not even a snack before bed.  We talked about eating together as a family, how it's rude to get up, etc.  If he finishes early, he may be excused.   I would not force him to eat.  But I'm a 'tough love' sort of parent.  
  3. lharrison1

    lharrison1 Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    We eat as a family-and my kids have a tough time sitting there through the whole meal-we try not to make a big thing of it, just remind them that the meal is not over and they need to sit back down.  They try to claim they are done eating and we dont force them to eat-but to require them to sit there until we are all finished (in hopes that they will eat a little more). 
    We try as hard as we can to not react negatively at dinner-we want to inforce positive family time.  It's really really tough sometimes though! LOL
    Oh!! and we try not to drag it out-dinner is usually 15-20 minutes tops.
  4. cheezewhiz24

    cheezewhiz24 Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Here is what we do: gather together and do the high point/low point of our day. As soon as the last person is at the table, the first person to say "high point/low point" goes first. They then get to pick the next person to go. We keep going until everyone has had a chance to share. My rule for our family is that we don't leave the table until everyone has shared. My 3yo sometimes throws a fit- she gets escorted to her room for that. She's getting better now but will ask to be excused. I just remind her to wait until it's over.

    I would not spoon feed him anymore- it's reinforcing his behavior. He will not starve by missing a meal, even a few days in a row.
  5. FGMH

    FGMH Well-Known Member

    We try to have dinner as family sharing time too and everyone has to stay at the table until all the kids have shared their day, and then they usually find it interesting to hear what mom's and dad's high and low points of the day were and stay on a bit, but they may be excused while mom and dad chat a bit or mom finishes her meal as I usually need all my attention while the baby eats and don't get to eat myself.
    We have the rule that the meal is over once you get up and leave the table (the only exception is going to the toilet, although I remind them to go before the meal and it is rare that they need to go during the meal). If you would like to have dessert you may not leave the table in between and we all have dessert together (except for me when I did not get round to eating due to helping the baby, I neither want to rush my meal nor make the kids wait that long).
    I would make the rule clear to your son and then follow through, it will probably only take a few nights and there is no harm in going without dinner for a few days. He might also not be that hungry after his growth spurt - mine go through phases when they eat more than me and then they eat just a couple of bites and are done.
  6. monica77

    monica77 Well-Known Member

    I want to post an update.
    Yesterday afternoon after everyone was home we sat the kids down in the living room and we had a serious conversation about dinner. I explained to Max that this is not an argument, just a conversation, I am not upset, but  I need him to understand it's not acceptable to keep getting up for whatever reason. We explained to him that first time he gets up from dinner before he's done he will go straight to his room - without finishing dinner. I reminded him he's not a baby anymore and I shouldn't spoon feed him for whatever reason, or have arguments about eating. We explained he doesn't have to finish his food if he can't but don't get up until we are done. He was visibly embarrassed and he kept looking down during this conversation.
    Before dinner, we asked him to go to the bathroom, of course, he said no, but I told him to go and try anyway and he went without arguing. Then we explained the rule again before we sat down, and he repeated it for us. Then we sat down and we had dinner - nobody got up and we had a nice peaceful dinner. Ha, we even had desert - we don't do desert every night, but everyone was so nice, they deserved it.  We told Max how we appreciate him for being such a good boy and we are proud of him for listening.
    We will keep repeating this rule every night and we hope he will keep listening. I guess there will be setbacks - but at least he proved he can do this. I am not sure why I didn't do this since first time he started to disrupt dinner.
    Thank you for your help everyone!
    2 people like this.
  7. mama_dragon

    mama_dragon Well-Known Member has some great ideas for keeping kids engaged at all ages.
  8. Rollergiraffe

    Rollergiraffe Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I don't really fight it anymore. We set the expectation, and I do all I can to make sure that my boys are set up for success; making sure they're hungry (but not meltdown hungry), having everything ready and on the table before they come, reminding them to go to the bathroom an hour before, rule about no toys at the table, and then we eat like a house on fire and talk about stuff they're interested in. It works until it doesn't, but I have to remind myself to keep my expectations low because for some reason my kids just aren't developmentally able to sit still for that long. In the long term we will have family dinners because we are creating the habit. In the short term, we will keep setting an example and take what we can get. I also have a rule that I don't make anything but dinner, so if they don't eat, they're out of luck.
  9. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    We have a rule that they have to ask to get up from the table for any reason. Mine are 7 now, but this was the rule starting at 3-4. If they get up without asking (or otherwise act like heathens at the table), dinner is over. In practice, they do get warnings and how tolerant I am depends upon their intentions.

    Mine have gone to bed with little or no dinner many times, although usually by their choice because they aren't hungry or decide they don't like what we are having. They are bigger breakfast/lunch eaters and always have been. No one is starving to death or uncomfortable overnight.
  10. Kessedi

    Kessedi Well-Known Member

    Of course dinner food must be diverse and I, too, adore various it from eggs (with cheese, vegetables, ham and etc.). I recommend you to pay attention to omelette pan to cooking was the most convenient and fast. This pan has a non-stick coating and allows you to cook an omelet with a minimum amount of vegetable oil.
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