Mealtime Expectations for a 3 1/2 Year Old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 11-09-2011, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi - My dh and I are having some disagreement about what expectations we should have for our 3 1/2 year old during mealtime... things like: are they required to sit at the table every meal, for how long, are they allowed to get up before they're done, do they have to clean their plate to get dessert or should a serving of dessert be offered with the meal, can they negotiate what they get to eat, are utensils required at this age, what happens if they just won't eat at a meal and are then hungry 30min later, etc. Any thoughts? Any good books out there that might have some good advice?

 

Thanks in advance!  I'm cross-posting in Ages and Stages Childhood Years...

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#2 of 16 Old 11-09-2011, 09:13 PM
 
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I raised a batch of kids who came into my life at 5 and 7 and am now on the second batch who are currently 3 and 5.

 

My attitude: Why battle a child over food?  They're not going to starve to death and how would you like it if someone forced you to eat something you don't like. I remember having to eat Hunter's Stew as child. It was totally disgusting and made me gag. It was the worst tasting stuff ever and I HAD to eat it. WHY? 

 

I make what I make. If  I know my kid doesn't like it I make them something else simple that I know they will eat. I don't make them a whole dinner, but I do keep frozen cooked pasta and cooked rice and some sauces in the freezer. Or maybe a "cheese" crisp. I make absolutely no issues of dinner. They can try something new or not. The thing is, they always try it. Eventually. Like my mung bean tortillas. Our daughter is gluten free so I learned how to make these new tortillas. I served them multiple times and neither wanted them and we didn't make a scene about it. Then all of a sudden they each chose to try a bite at different times and now they love them. Same with broccoli. We just served it and at some point they started eating it.

 

If you want your child to use utensils, start letting them play with them when they are infants sitting in your lap at dinner. If it's too late to do that, just put them on the table and use them yourselves. Kids will copy you as long as you aren't pushy. If they do use it, you can comment to your spouse, "Look at what nice manners our child has." or something like that.

 

Our kids eat until they get out of their chairs. Again, we aren't pushy. They will stay in their chairs as they get older. I assure you, our 20 and 22 year olds sit in their chairs through dinner.


As far as force feeding for desert. That's a good way to get a fat kid. "You have to overfill yourself so you can overfill yourself on something high calorie." I always told the kids, "Make sure you leave a bit of room because I made desert tonight."

 

So, our now adult grown kids. They eat Thai, Indian, Mexican, and a lot of stuff we don't eat. They are thin and healthy. We didn't make food a weapon and we trusted in their ability to make good choices. We did limit them to one sugary thing a day. I don't know if that's the best choice or not, but that's what we did and continue to do.

 

I haven't figured out why parents make such an issue of food. It only gives the kids something to fight back about.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#3 of 16 Old 11-10-2011, 10:37 AM
 
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 My dh and I are having some disagreement about what expectations we should have for our 3 1/2 year old during mealtime... things like: are they required to sit at the table every meal, for how long, are they allowed to get up before they're done, do they have to clean their plate to get dessert or should a serving of dessert be offered with the meal, can they negotiate what they get to eat, are utensils required at this age, what happens if they just won't eat at a meal and are then hungry 30min later, etc. Any thoughts? Any good books out there that might have some good advice?

 

 

is this about food or manners?

 

we have a 3 1/2 year old that has sat since infancy with us at meals and uses utensils for all food except for designated finger food (ex. french fries, pizza and he really doesn't even like that) - we use two napkins at each meal, one on the lap one by the plate to wipe his mouth 

 

he must sit until done (we do not roam)- no coming back - meal time is just that

 

if you can't eat - no need for desert at out home (at least 90% gone)

 

we have no need for negotiation really, there are only very few things he does not eat, pizza being one of them at that meal something else is made for him

 

we have strict rules, no talking when you mouth is full, no talking if someone else is talking, no grabbing, if you want something you must ask and you must try every new item you are offered at least a spoon full prior to saying you don't like it- we give the normal amount if you finish that- you can have more, you can not just eat one thing and not others and ask to that one thing (ex bread- you get 1 piece, you must finish other foods to get more)- the plate does not need to be super clean but you need to have tried the foods and at least made an effort or no deserts

 

we eat at our meals, have to ask to be excused, we also read manner books once weekly at the meal (often in preparation for going place - so not all about food related) - at 3 1/2 he is able to help prepare food, set the table, help clear it and help dry and put away flatware

 

this is the second one I am raising this way and it worked for the other one just fine and works for this one too


 

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#4 of 16 Old 11-10-2011, 11:26 AM
 
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Serenbat, I find myself wondering how you enforce yuor expectations?

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#5 of 16 Old 11-10-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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I may be the odd duck out here but DH and don't eat evening meals on the weekdays (although I do fix a meal for DD each evening as well as weekend meals if we are home).  That aside, I do have strong opinions about food, manners, etc.  LOL!

 

I actually think that utilizing utensils from an early age (whether they be child designed, regular silverware, chopsticks, etc.) is a good thing, mainly for motor skills with the end benefit being good table manners.  

 

As far as sitting through a meal, I think this should be learned and the way that we have dealt with it is that we've tried to make the experience pleasant.  For us, that means not coming to the table angry, stressed or with attitude problems.  Sometimes it meant over engaging with DD when she was a toddler.  Eating should be about fun and nourishment and bonding.  There's nothing worse (to me) than a stressful meal.  I just remember growing up around dinner tables where I felt I was just choking on food because everything was so dang serious.  My parents approached everything from a punitive standpoint and I have more unpleasant memories of the family meal than pleasant.  

 

Which leads me to food.  Like Sunday Crepes above, I don't think battles should be centered around food at all.  Again, my experience growing up was that you ate what was on your plate and you ate it all.  I despised the texture and taste of some vegetables (especially slimy canned ones) and stuff like liver but we were forced to eat every last bite, even if we were sitting at the table until 9 pm at night.  I'm still asking myself:  what purpose did that serve?  I know what DD likes (mostly raw or lightly steamed veggies of every variety) and I focus on what I know the whole family will like (with maybe some extras thrown in for DH and myself).  We don't do desserts (more habit than anything) but if we did, I don't really think the promise or denial of dessert should be a motivator for eating the main meal.  I think there are better motivators, the biggest one being that the food tastes good and that mealtime can be joyful.  


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#6 of 16 Old 11-10-2011, 06:21 PM
 
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Serenbat, I find myself wondering how you enforce yuor expectations?

 

there is no force, it's called manners and seeing it in practice works

 

these are not expectation, simply the way things are done- eating is eating not playing a game that is for other times and other places- same exact way children are expected to have certain expected behaviors for certain given situation,---it's learned over time, you start out early not when the child is older

 

as other clear put it, want them to use flatware - start early and show good examples- this goes for other things as well- if you need to have to go to restaurants/food functions,etc., you need to have a child learn to sit not wonder from table to table - start early, it's really not hard at all- if you want to wait until the child is older-good luck

 

 

 

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I think there are better motivators, the biggest one being that the food tastes good and that mealtime can be joyful.  

that's what it's all about- super simple


 

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#7 of 16 Old 11-11-2011, 11:26 AM
 
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Ditto starting early with the utensils. Started giving my lil guy his own silverware around 18 mo, of course he was quite messy, but by 2 yrs old, he could use them pretty well, and now at 3, the only thing he is still 'messy' with is stuff like soups. Also, around 2, I got him some small cups at the thrift store (not shot glasses, but closer to that size) and he almost always uses an open cup now, normal size, at 3 yrs old.

 

We try to sit down together to eat meals, and sometimes he sits the whole time, some times he finishes much earlier than the grown ups and he gets up and goes. MOst days there is a treat or dessert (at least half the time it is really yogurt, fruit or dried fruits, cookies/cakes/bars/candy are probably dessert only once a week or so)  which he can eat as long as he's eat at least half the main dish (its not a big portion) and I try to get him to have at least one bite of everything else. (ie vegetables) If it is one of his favorites, I know he'll eat it, and if it's new, I try to get him to taste one bite, before any 'dessert' is offered.

 

And we don't enforce 'cleaning your plate' some times he'll eat everything and have seconds, some times it is 3 bites and he is off to play.

 

As he gets older (like 4-5-6) we may enforce more of the 'stay at the table' until others are done eating, but for now, as long as he sits part of the meal with us, it is easier to let him go play so the grown ups can finish their food.

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#8 of 16 Old 11-11-2011, 07:58 PM
 
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I second the question:  Is this about manners or food?  

 

We expect our children to sit at meals with us, try everything that is prepared, and sit with us until we are finished.  Manners are important!   Food is a whole other ball of wax.  We encourage everyone to try everything that is prepared, although if the child doesn't like it, they are not forced to continue eating the food (I don't like eating something that I find distasteful, and I'm sure my children don't either).  We feel that 1) learning to try new foods is part of expanding one's palate, and 2) it's good manners to try things, as there will inevitably be something at a hostess's house that you've never encountered before.  Again, if the food is not a hit, the child does not have to finish it.  Who cares?  Why make it a battle?  They've all grown up with these expectations, so it's not hard for them to follow them.

 

WRT to sitting at the meal, we find that there is a lot of up-and-down for several years until they gain the maturity to sit peacefully through a meal.  Sometimes we feel like we are eating with a bunch of popcorn, lol, but we just keep reminding them to sit down and eat.  We start when they are babies, sitting on my or DH's lap, playing with a spoon.  Again, since our children have grown up with the expectation that they will sit with us through the meal, they don't get upset when we remind them to stay in their seat; it doesn't feel repressive to them like it might if we waited until age 3 or 4, kwim?  It's just the way it is.  

 

As far as enforcing our "rules", we don't have any punishments or whatever for not "obeying".  We rely more on modeling good manners: staying in your seat through the meal, chewing with your mouth closed, not talking with your mouth full, etc.  We also make sure that our children know what we expect them to do; how can you expect them to know what you want unless you spend time teaching them?  
 

As our children get older, we are finding that it's a lot of fun to share meals with them when we come to the table with something to talk about.  Sometimes it's jokes we share, word problems (like riddles or something similar), interesting things we've learned, the highlights of our day, etc.  Sitting together enjoying good food makes all the work of teaching manners totally worthwhile!  

 

I would just say forget the food battles.  Like SundayCrepes said, they will eventually try and like most things, so why make a big fuss over cleaning plates and whatnot.  If you want them to try things, like we do, make it a part of your life, and be excited yourself when there is something new to try.  Make new recipes and treat it like an adventure (we say "we might love it and think it's the best thing ever, we might hate it, throw it out, and eat PB&J for supper, you never know!").  They will catch your excitement, and be more willing to experiment as well.  

 

 

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#9 of 16 Old 11-11-2011, 08:54 PM
 
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As far as enforcing our "rules", we don't have any punishments or whatever for not "obeying".

 

 

and we DO NOT do punishments - our table rules are akin to our other rules - (ex. we don't use clothing or hand to wipe a nose, you flush the toilet the lid has to be closed)- you are not punished for not obeying you are reminded until you no longer need to be reminded

 

these are family rules in our home- if someone wants to eat with their mouth open and have a conversation at the same time in another family that is for them, not us


 

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#10 of 16 Old 11-13-2011, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post

 

My attitude: Why battle a child over food?  They're not going to starve to death and how would you like it if someone forced you to eat something you don't like.

I agree, SundayCrepes.  Putting it into action is another story though, lol!  Part of the reason why we're having problems right now is that I realized I had become a short order cook... dd had gotten used to me fixing something different if she didn't like a meal/snack... and if she was hungry, I would fix her something whenever she wanted.  So to change this, I decided that I would fix only 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, and then dd could eat as much or as little off her plate as she wanted... no battles.  If there is dessert, it gets served with the meal and dd can eat it whenever... we only have desserts maybe 3 times a week, and even then they're small and relatively healthy.  The problem came from instituting this change... since dd was used to me being a short order cook, she was not pleased with my new strategy, of course!  The biggest issue has been with her not eating a meal that she doesn't like, then demanding something else before the next meal/snack... she can pitch a doozy of a tantrum!

 

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Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

is this about food or manners?

serenbat, a good question that really made me think about what our food issues really are... to clarify, I guess it's about healthy food habits AND nutrition AND manners... but also, I'm really curious about the age expectations component too.  I only have one child, I haven't been around other children much, and books that talk about what to expect from your such-and-such-aged child don't really address these meal questions specifically.  Like, are most 3.5yo's physically able to use forks and spoons to eat most food and able to sit for an hour at dinner?  I honestly don't know... my dd does these things sporadically.
 

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there is no force, it's called manners and seeing it in practice works

I'd like for seeing-it-in-practice to be our strategy too... BUT we are very casual in our house, so what dd's seeing perhaps isn't setting the best example, lol!  We eat at a kitchen table in our farm house (no dining room), so we're often up and down during meals... get the butter out of the fridge... out of water, go pour some more... done eating, so I'll start the dishes at the sink right across from the table... at breakfast, I often look at the newspaper or a book while dd and I are eating.  I like most meals to be pretty casual/relaxed at home... we're not formal people.  The trouble with this comes when we visit people or people visit us with different expectations.  I would love for dd to learn that you behave differently depending on context... casual manners for home... formal manners for formal settings.  Dd does pretty good about this, seeing mom and dad in action in formal settings and adjusting her manners accordingly... usually, but not always.  Not sure how to better teach this...
 

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And we don't enforce 'cleaning your plate' some times he'll eat everything and have seconds, some times it is 3 bites and he is off to play.

 

As he gets older (like 4-5-6) we may enforce more of the 'stay at the table' until others are done eating, but for now, as long as he sits part of the meal with us, it is easier to let him go play so the grown ups can finish their food.

flightgoddess, I think this fits well with my philosophy.  I like the idea of letting kids determine for themselves how much to eat... and I think that expecting dd to sit at the table until she is completely finished (and then being able to get up if she wants) is a good approach/middle ground that we may try.
 

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Originally Posted by gardenmommy View Post
We feel that 1) learning to try new foods is part of expanding one's palate, and 2) it's good manners to try things, as there will inevitably be something at a hostess's house that you've never encountered before.  Again, if the food is not a hit, the child does not have to finish it.  Who cares?  Why make it a battle?  They've all grown up with these expectations, so it's not hard for them to follow them.

 

WRT to sitting at the meal, we find that there is a lot of up-and-down for several years until they gain the maturity to sit peacefully through a meal.  Sometimes we feel like we are eating with a bunch of popcorn, lol, but we just keep reminding them to sit down and eat. 

Thanks gardenmommy!  That's a really good point about teaching them to try a bite of something... and how to handle it gracefully if they don't like it.  I was also wondering about the "popcorn" (love that term!) and if it was normal for this age and age appropriate to require them to stay seated through the meal.  My dd is up and down a lot sometimes... this is an issue when some of my relatives who have more formal meals, require their children (and expect my dd) to sit calmly through entire meals.  One time, we had a problem when relatives were visiting our house and dd was up and all over the place at mealtime, while their children were still required to sit.  There was some nastiness about my dd being a "bad example" and some insistence that my dd be required to sit (perhaps while being strapped into a high chair) during meals when we visit their house.   Dd hasn't used a high chair in well over a year, so I don't really know how that will go or how to handle that when we visit them for a week over the holidays.

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#11 of 16 Old 11-13-2011, 06:30 PM
 
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as far as manners go

 

 

these are a few books we have - http://www.ebay.com/itm/My-Little-Golden-Book-Manners-460-B-Edition-/400253925567?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item5d30fe38bf#ht_3130wt_902

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/First-Little-Golden-Book-Polite-Elephant-/130512910218?pt=US_Childrens_Books&hash=item1e632cf78a#ht_500wt_844

 

very basic and only touch on a few table items

 

we also have these - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Wonder-Book-Romper-Room-Do-Bee-Book-MANNERS-/200672742249?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item2eb9070b69#ht_3444wt_902

 

this is more male but good as a starter

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MANNERS-GROW-TINA-LEE-1ST-EDITION-/330639219946?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item4cfba21cea#ht_500wt_1078

this is more in-depth and for the older 3+, lots on meal time and other things relevant for our 3 year old 

we really like this book

 

we happen to have found all of them and not paid ebay prices

 

 

does you DD have a table for dolls/animals her size? could you do "tea-parties"? a semi formal way, make or get little napkins (we love folding napkins by the way- great fun) and learning about place settings, playing at some manners in just a casual way and work up to what you kind of expect and maybe do a once a week "meal" - get out nice dishes, set the table, serve the food on the table not the plates a head of time, wait until everyone is done to clean up- even have her "dress-up" really get into it- have that be your desert night - just a thought

 

 

 

Quote:
Like, are most 3.5yo's physically able to use forks and spoons to eat most food and able to sit for an hour at dinner?  I honestly don't know... my dd does these things sporadically.
 

both of mine could use a fork by a year old, spoon for sloppy things such as soup and yogurt masted well by age two and at 3 we are now cutting somethings with a knife- our meals last about 25 to 35 mins - I gave them flatware as infants and they got the idea real quick (we never did "finger foods" it was simply not revenant for us - they did not see us eating certain foods with our fingers why would they want to?) 

 

how does your DD do going out to a restaurant and having to sit and wait?

 

back to "getting up during the meal"  - get things out a head of time and have your dd "set the table" (ex. the butter) and we use a pitcher for the water and it's placed on the table (it's cold often from the frig)

 

the only thing that we do not yet is pour liquids at this age and only some foods can our DS serve himself from a main serving dish (this is a whole other thing- eyes are far bigger then tummies!)


 

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#12 of 16 Old 11-13-2011, 08:06 PM
 
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WRT to age-appropriate physical behavior:  

 

My children have all used forks and spoons around a year, certainly by 18 months.  It is messy sometimes, but that's how they learn.  As far as sitting still, yes we do require them to sit through the meal, but practically speaking, most meals don't last more than about 30 minutes.  And we only make an issue of it at suppertime; lunch and breakfast are not formal at all here.  For longer meals, like at family holiday meals, we don't make the little ones sit through the whole thing.  When they are done and starting to get a bit antsy, we let them get up to play.  I do know some children who can sit still for long periods, like an hour or more, but they are very rare, IMO.  None of my children have been able to sit through a meal much longer than about 30, maybe 45 minutes.

 

When it comes to mealtimes, we have food ready to eat before we ask the little ones to sit at the table. Then, when we sit at the table, everything is ready, there is no waiting, and we can start eating.   It seems to make it easier for the children to sit patiently at the table if they don't have to wait more than just a minute or so to begin eating. 

 

If your family is being difficult, I would gently remind them that all children are different.  Some children find it easier than others to sit for long periods than others.  If you think that your child needs to learn to sit through meals, try setting a timer for maybe 5 minutes, then increase it by a minute or so every few days until you reach your target time.  Play games with her, have "tea time" with her as the PP said, read stories together, etc.

 

I love the idea of reading books about manners!  Definitely spend time talking about manners, how different situations require different manners, etc.  Maybe some role-playing?

 

The hardest part of implementing a new plan surrounding food issues is the emotional part, whether you are dealing with a 3 year old or a 30 yr. old.  Stick your your plan, regardless of the tantrums, and your DD will soon be happy with her new habits.  Maybe you can find an emotionally neutral time of the day to talk through her the changes you are wanting to see, and how she feels about it, and how hard change can be.  Keep working at it!

 

 

It sounds to me like you are on the right track!  Maybe just a bit more teaching and effort is needed to reinforce what you are already helping her to learn.  I'm sure you will figure out a good strategy soon.

 

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#13 of 16 Old 11-14-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by treehugz View Post

Hi - My dh and I are having some disagreement about what expectations we should have for our 3 1/2 year old during mealtime... things like: are they required to sit at the table every meal, for how long, are they allowed to get up before they're done, do they have to clean their plate to get dessert or should a serving of dessert be offered with the meal, can they negotiate what they get to eat, are utensils required at this age, what happens if they just won't eat at a meal and are then hungry 30min later, etc. Any thoughts? Any good books out there that might have some good advice?

 

Thanks in advance!  I'm cross-posting in Ages and Stages Childhood Years...

 

My kids are 7, 4 and *almost* 20 mos.  

We eat the table for every meal.  Okay, I lied the older 2 eat breakfast at the kids table in the family room and watch TV.   The baby sits at the table b/c she WILL wander and not eat, tip the bowls, toss the spoon, eat her bro and sis's food.  ;)  The girls and I eat lunch together at the table.   They sit there till they are done.  They tell me they are done.  I don't make them clean their plates.  If they are full, they are full.   But my kids are good for I'm full mommy, then 10 mins later they need a snack b/c simply put they didn't want to eat at that point or what I served them.   I usually have some thing for dessert.  Maybe a fruit leather or fresh fruit, smoothies, granola bar, some kind of baked sweet thing i may make.   It's not a part of dinner, it's an option if I have it.   For instance tonight I made spaghetti and meatballs and had a cheesecake I make over the weekend.   DS ate all the pasta and asked for more, I said no..finish your meatballs and you can have more.   He did.   ODD did the same....I told her take 4 bites of your meatballs (I cut them up) and you can be done.  That's my trick w/her.....tell her 4 more bites (she just turned 4 and loves to count to 4) and she eats it all.   I gave them all dessert.   If there is still food on their plate and they have done a "good" job clearing it.  they can have a dessert. 

They eat what I serve them.  They won't starve and I don't make things they don't like.  If I do, then yes, I would make them a hot dog or something.  But i've never made something new they hated it and I had to make something else.  They choice they get is maybe what veggie or do you think I should make rice and beans or tacos for example.  

Both older ones went thru the I don't want to eat what you are giving me stage.  about 3 - 3 1/2. Yup, they were hungry a few mins later.   I offered a fruit and a reminder about eating when it's time to eat and you won't be hungry.  

Utensils are offered and required...they all know how to use them but I still have to remind the 7 yo at times.   They use the utensils well and have since about 1.  YDD eats yogurt w/o too much mess..she is 20 mos and has been doing so for a couple of mos now.  I remind DD about using the fork by telling her she will get her fingers messy and then her clothes and she is such a diva that she doesn't want to stain her clothes she will use it.  

We have always asked that they ask to be excused from the table.  

If they get up while eating, then the meal is done.   Unless of course we need a bathroom break.  those are allowed, with in reason of course b/c ODD went thru a stage where she could easily "go to the bathroom" 3 times over the course of a meal.   Yes, I have delt w/a hungry 3 yo b/c she got up 3 times at lunch and I tossed her food.   I do not have the heart to flat out say no, no food.  I offer a fruit or something less appealing.  
 

 


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#14 of 16 Old 11-15-2011, 06:07 AM
 
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if visiting relatives w expectations about table manners/staying at table etc, you might try having your child in your lap for added incentive to stay? We recently visited my dad and stepmom who have grownup expectations of young children and some scorn for parents who don't lay down the law....i think my boy picked up on this new formality and behaved really well. I explained it with "At grandpas house people don't..." I also made extra sure that he got his casual snacks throughout the day to ensure that he food remained a good thing and that his blood sugar levels were good at sit at the table time. (we didn't do in my lap there, he had a special pillow on "his" chair)

 

We have an energetic almost 3 year old and he is up and down and all around...having his main play area right next to our table surely isn't helpful but that's where it is. But recently he has sat and ate ate ate his whole meal a few times! The first time he casually brought our attention to it - "I ate the whole thing. I listened to what Papa's said yesterday." (yesterday = past tense) Proud family moment! I think being relaxed around food has helped our guy have a healthy attitude toward food for the most part. I'm sure he will grow up to be a normal eat at the table kinda fella!

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#15 of 16 Old 11-15-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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A great book about everything surrounding feeding children/families: "Child of Mine" by Ellyn Satter. It's highly recommended all around the world and though I don't agree with everything in it, it's hugely helpful. It addresses everything you're asking.

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#16 of 16 Old 11-15-2011, 06:04 PM
 
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I firmly believe that my 2.5 year old has a small appetite, we're pretty strict with what options we give her to eat (organic, holistic, etc.). She will sit at the table, do our blessing, take a few bites, drink her water and then be finished. Often she'll be hungry 10-15 minutes after we've started, but for the most part that's how all our meals go and hubby and I will just finish our dinner. It has been this way ever since I began breastfeeding her, she'd be done in 5 minutes and she'll have a BM before bed or in the morning. 
 
I think at the end of the day I just follow how often she uses the restroom to gauge if she's eating enough or is already "full".

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