Are you tired of fighting a battle with your kids every time you sit down to eat? I have a couple picky eaters in my house (one of them is not a kid). I also have children that get quite rambunctious and easily distracted, without fail, as soon as they sit down at the table. My kids are 5, 4 and 1. I want all three of them to be grateful, not complainers. I want them to take mealtime somewhat seriously. I want them to realize I am not a short order cook and that our kitchen does not take special requests or extend it’s hours after closing time. I’m not a heartless monster in the kitchen, but I need structure in our home and I need down time. It’s exhausting watching other moms get up and down and up and down at every single whim and request of their children! I will not be pushed around by my kids.
- No complaining. You eat what is in front of you, you don’t get to make special requests.
- You can choose not to eat, but this may result in complaints of being hungry later. For that reason, you will eat now, or not at all.
- You will sit politely and quietly (so that when we are out to eat, sitting quietly is not a new concept).
- You will ask to be excused before getting up, and you will take your plate to the sink.
We do generally reward our kid’s good eating habits with a small portion of dessert. This may be controversial to some people, but dessert for us usually means 1 small cookie, 1 piece of candy, or 1 fruit Popsicle This is generally the only time during the day that our kids get sweets.
I was given the advice by a mother of 3 boys, to set the timer when my kids are goofing around instead of eating. Let me tell you, it works! I usually give them a few minutes of grace, but when I see they are acting up, I will inform them the timer is going on. I use the timer on my stove. For a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I will give between 5 and 10 minutes to finish. That may seem short, but really, how long should it actually take to eat a sandwich? Once they are motivated, they will usually finish under 5 minutes time – and that is while still eating like normal humans, no cramming everything in their mouths as fast as they can.
The first time I did this, they did not take it seriously, but I warned them I would take their food away and they would not get dessert. I felt a little cruel doing this, but I never had to do it again after that. They know now that if they do not finish they will earn a negative consequence.
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What are your mealtime tricks of the trade?
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