We've always had a rule that we all stay at the dinner table until everyone is done. My thinking is that it's really the only time of day when we're all in the same place and can spend time together. Also, I take time to prepare a nice meal and want the kids to sit and enjoy it, and not just hoover it down and take off. So now my DS7 is really protesting. He always finishes first and then starts agitating to leave the table. He just sits there being ticked off, arms folded, refusing to talk. So I'm wondering if I should let this rule go or not. What do others do?
Do you make your kids stay at the dinner table until everyone is done?
My older kid is a slow eater so this hasn't been an issue for us.
I see one of your goals is this:
And it looks like enjoyment of the meal isn't being accomplished by this.
I think having everyone sit together until the end of the meal is a good goal to work toward, but I personally wouldn't force it if it is creating tension and arguments. I would probably problem solve ("What would make dinner time more enjoyable so you could stay here longer?") and that kind of thing to work toward the goal though, as I think family dinners are valuable. Some restaurants have trivia cards sitting on the tables to promote dinner converastion. Maybe putting something like that on the table, or just writing out silly questions you can discuss, would give him something to do and create conversations he would enjoy and make him want to stay there.
Also, I would have a rule that the TV has to stay off during dinner time regardless of whether one person is eating, because I wouldn't want to compete with the TV. If someone hates sitting at the dinner table so much that they want to do homework, I could probably work with that. But to turn on the TV? I don't think so strong a draw away from the table is a good idea.
Well its just the 3 of us so 9 times out of 10 we are all done at the same time. However I never have forced our son stay until we are all done. He is welcome to leave if he is fisnished.
Have you tried dinner games? We love them! We have this set: http://www.amazon.com/Family-Time-Fun-Dinner-Activities/dp/B000P0YOQ6/ref=pd_sim_t_1 and this one: http://www.amazon.com/Chat-Pack-Questions-Spark-Conversations/dp/0975580167 They were both gifts but you could easily make your own. My son has friends who begs to stay for dinner because he loves to play dinner games.
I have six children from 11 to 8 months. Staying at the table until everyone is done is proper table manners. If you make your children eat with utensils or keep their elbows off the table then I can not see how this is any different. It is not a lot to ask for them to sit there until everyone is done. I find with us, we tend to sit there a long while after dinner just talking about our days.
It has been a complete non-issue in our family. We're not just scarfing down food, supper is fellowship and family time as well. At my parents house, for the last 18 months, it was the most looked forward to time of the day. We occasionally had to banish one kid or the other due to interruptions and that was a dreadful consequence to them.
Right now, we've just moved, we're eating on benches/the floor, and it's kind of uncomfortable, so we hurry through. But I know once we have our table, and comfy chairs, we will be having more relaxed, long-lasting meals.
We never have sit down meals at the table here. Ds eats at the table and usually dh and I eat on the couch while watching a show, unless my dd wants to be held, in which case I sit at the table cause it is easier that way. I don't ever see us making a rule about sitting at the table till every one is done. We are really casual around here...lol like pajama party every day casual.
Our only child is only almost 2, so no, we don't make her stay until we're finished. In the last couple months, though, DH and I have declined to play with her or get up to help her with things until we are done eating. As she's getting older, we know she can wait and learn to be patient. Maybe when she's older we'll make her sit longer, but maybe not. We'll play it by ear.
I agree with Mamazee. When they are done they can go. Or not even attend if they so choose. We have all agreed that there are no screens during dinner when someone is still eating. This includes the adults and their phones. The children never are far from the table if they don't want to sit in their seats. I sit and wait at the table for their Dad who is an incredibly slow eater and is always last to the table.
I agree that problem solving as a family is the way to go. Ask him why he doesn't want to stay at the table. Let him know why you would like everyone to stay until everyone is finished. Each person's input is equally important. Ask him what can be done so that all needs are met. This might be difficult the first couple of times you try it, but it gets easier and easier with practice.
Much love and peace :)
We have a 5 year old and a one year old and our 5 year old never stays at the table as long as we do. That said, if she tries to 'hoover and run', we ask her to stay for a couple more minutes and during those minutes, we actively engage her in conversation. I'm with her all day, so DH usually takes the lead and asks her about her day, etc. Once we've gotten a bit out of her, we let her go. Our rule, though, is that if you choose to leave the table, you choose to leave those remaining at the table to eat in peace. She is welcome back to her seat to visit, but not flitting about, being distracting while we try to visit with eachother and eat.
My husband and I almost always have seconds and like to chat and I don't think it's fair to ask her to sit through all of that. Kids don't do well on adult time in many situations (especially daily!) and that's ok. I don't think I deserve the right to tell someone they have to sit as long as I do because I made the food. Honestly, I get to sit longer this way because I don't feel as though someone is waiting for me, so it's all good!
what is it that he would like to go and do instead? if it's because he wants to do some specific thing after dinner every night (whether it's watch tv or play outside) i would just try to engage him and stick to my rule (more about that in a second). if it's because he is bored or antsy sitting for so long, and you would be willing to let him do something that isn't too disruptive to the family time you are trying to enjoy, then i would consider allowing him to clear his spot and clear anything else from the table that we're done with like serving dishes, and then come back to the end of the meal.
so my thing about trying to engage him (and actually, also about "the end of the meal") is that, since the conversation is clearly not flowing if he's being a grump with his arms crossed and not saying anything, then maybe you can offer something that he will actually enjoy. some traditions close the meal with another blessing, and i think of it like that except maybe more appealing to children.
you could have each person say what it was about their day that they were grateful for and/or what they are looking forward to tomorrow, or just a more general check-in of what's going on with each person, and you could use a talking piece for more formality and quiet listening.
you could (as my mother did throughout my childhood until i moved out of the house) end the meal by reading a story out loud. there are many "story a day" books. we have one we read at bedtime, and my children look forward to this in a different way from how they enjoy regular story books, because they always want to know what's next. it takes a minute or two to read it, whereas my mom's books were daily devotionals and probably more like 5 minutes. if everyone is old enough to enjoy it and you feel like the family has time, you could read a chapter book. i loved that time after lunch in elementary school when the teacher would read out loud.
you could have an activity the whole family does after the table is cleared, like a quick game or drawing/art time.
since you asked, no my boys don't have to stay at the table until everyone is finished. they do have to stay until *they* are finished - if they get up to do anything other than absolutely needing to use the bathroom, their dinner is over. they kept popping out of their seats before they were finished, and it was driving me bonkers, so that's why we have the "if you get up, you're done" rule. and for as much as they used to run around, they'd always come back, because they definitely want to be there when the meal is over so they can each put out one of the dinner candles!
Only in formal situations. If it's a fancy dinner everyone stays at the table until the meal is done. If it's just the family sitting down to eat together, the kids can leave when their done. DS usually goes looking for something more entertaining to do, DD sometimes goes to play with him or do her own thing, but more and more she's starting to stick around and talk with DH and I when she's done.
Ours are 4 and 6 and we let them go when they are done, as long as they say thank you for the meal first.
I draw the line at computer/TV though. We found out DS was woofing down food, or just not eating dinner, so he could run to the computer. So we now have no computer or TV after dinner. If he wants to leave to play with legos or draw or play with DD, then fine. I would rather they stay, but I also think the conversation gets boring for them. We always start with dinner being about them and their day, but eventually DH and I start talking about work or finances or whatever, and they get bored and want to leave. So dh and I continue, and we really enjoy this extra 15 minutes together to talk about our day, catch up....
At restaurants, yes, because wandering would be disruptive. But at home, I just require that they clear their own places. I find that the dinner table is a hard place to really get kids to talk, they can feel on the spot, it's late in the day and they're tired... We do better with chat at bed time, or first thing in the morning.
No we don't, they can get up when they're done (ours are .5.5 and 16 months though). We don't allow the t.v. or computer on until everyone is done though. We've really had to reinforce this lately with ds (5.5yrs) because he's been either not eating or eating really quickly to get back to a show or computer game.
I personally like the extra time once they leave the table so dh and I can talk for a few minutes.
I don't make dd sit at the table until she is done on the rare occasions when she is done before I am. It is tedious to stay at the table with her until she is done because she eats so very slowly even at 8. It really drives me nuts to see her eating such small bites, bites far smaller than most one year olds regularly take in the infant room I work in, and I just don't feel like it is right for me to put her through that same torture when I am being the slow one to finish.