Talk to me about meal times in your house. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 08-05-2013, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our older two boys, 7 and 5, have been making family meal times a really stressful experience for me for some time.  I am having a hard time figuring out how to fix the problem.  

 

They throw food, have potty talk, and goof off (instead of eating) most of the meal.  I have been clear that these three things are not acceptable, but I must not be getting through to them.  


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#2 of 9 Old 08-06-2013, 06:46 PM
 
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I have one like this. I would just get up quietly, remove his plate and put it in the sink. Then I would go sit back down and finish eating. When he asked why, I told him since he was acting like that he must not be hungry. ( Yes it killed me inside ) It took two times and he never did it again.  

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#3 of 9 Old 08-06-2013, 08:56 PM
 
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Are they actually hungry? My kids ate better and behaved better if they had spent an hour at the park before I cooked. No extra snacking either.
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#4 of 9 Old 08-06-2013, 09:18 PM
 
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Sounds familiar (minus the food throwing and not eating parts!)  I too have boys aged 7 and 5, and they love the potty talk and goofing off at the table.  My husband now sits between them, and that has helped alot.  

 

Funny I just today thought about simply taking their plates away at lunch time when they wouldn't stop messing around with each other-  I don't think that's harsh at all MommyKelly!  Especially when they won't listen to my requests to stop.  I think (for my boys at least) it would send a very clear message!

 

Altheia you mention that they don't really eat their food.  To me it sounds like they aren't hungry, which leads them to entertain themselves in other, less desirable ways at meal time (including wasting their food by throwing it).  A lot of what you describe sounds normal 'brothers' behavior, but this part stands out as unusual to me.  Are they snacking on food all day?  Are they just picky eaters?  I think this might be the root of a lot of their behavior at the table.  

 

My boys typically eat all their food (veggies included), despite their goofiness at the table.  They do get snacks here and there, but it is mostly veggies and fruit, and never close to meal times.  

 

And I agree with philomom-  My boys behave so much better when they get their outside time, whether it's the playground or the backyard!

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#5 of 9 Old 08-07-2013, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, all. 

 

It's the 5 year old who doesn't eat, because a) he is a very slow eater under the best circumstances and b) the best circumstances mean his big brother is not sitting in the room- 5 year old can't resist trying to get the 7 year old to laugh.  He is a CLOWN.  7 year old ends up laughing instead of eating.  

 

But yes, it does go better when they are hungry.  What are your late afternoon schedules like?  They come home from school at 3:30 hungry, and it's hard to limit how much they eat then.  I hate limiting what they have.  Maybe I should just limit the time window for snack time?  

 

We eat at 6.  Is no eating from 4-6 enough to build an appetite?  Maybe I need to make dinner later, but then the 5 year old is used to being in bed at 7.  

 

What do you guys do schedule wise?


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#6 of 9 Old 08-07-2013, 02:26 PM
 
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dd too comes home RAVENOUS. basically i dont make that snack time. i make that dinner time. and then later when we eat she eats a small meal. 

 

my mom did the same when we were kids. and then she and my dad would kinda leave us at the table for a little while to do our thing. they had finished. we hadnt. they would give us what felt like half an hour. then my dad would quietly come and stand by the door and not say a word. we knew. our playtime was over. we'd quickly finish in 5 mins and were done. 

 

some of my favourite memories of my childhood are about my brother and me at the dinner table. i still remember driving my parents CRAZY with our weird conversation - like about eating grass. and when they were away - THAT was our moment. ugh!! all the gross games we played. today it is disgusting. then we were having the times of our lives. 

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#7 of 9 Old 08-14-2013, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of the replies! I especially like the idea of moving dinner up. I may just do that.

I think I also may bring back our "kid table" and allow more shenanigans there. I want to make it clear what expectations are at the "big table," and it will be helpful to have a place they can continue to eat if they are not meeting those expectations. What do you think of that?

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#8 of 9 Old 08-14-2013, 12:50 PM
 
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I am one of those who takes the plate away and sends them out of the kitchen.

 

But, i'd also make a "meal" for after school, because all kids are hungry right after school.  It's been that way forever I think.  I remember coming home and eating a whole sandwich and glass of tea after school.  

 

Then, i'd serve them a smaller meal, more of a snack at dinner.  You can serve dinner a little later, but they aren't the only people in the world, so you have to compromise for everyone.  So, just give them a very small portion, and either keep leftovers on a plate for them for later, or give them a snack later at night.  

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#9 of 9 Old 08-22-2013, 10:17 AM
 
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My boys are 7 and 4, and little sis is 2.5. They can all be goofy and exhibit bad manners, poke each other with forks, try to steal food from each other's plates, crawl under the table and pinch each other or poke Dad in the nads, etc. It can get really frustrating! dizzy.gif Here's what I do to help remedy the situation:

 

1) The little ones are allowed healthy snacks when our 4yo gets home from preschool at 12:45, then when our 7yo gets off the school bus at 4:00, they have some fruit and a big glass of water. That seems to chill him out and satisfy his appetite enough that he can do homework, but he burns through it before dinner.

 

2) While I cook dinner, the kids are allowed to watch TV (something at least semi-educational, like a science/space show, Team Umizoomi, Sesame Street, Super Why, etc.)

 

3) Dinner time starts when I tell them to turn off TV and come set the table. The 4yo puts out placemats, the 2yo does napkins, and the 7yo does silverware. Once we sit down to eat, the expectation is that everyone sits up straight and uses their manners, and they must eat at least some of everything on their plate before they can ask for seconds. If they act rude, potty-talk, or get up from the table, I warn them once, then their plate gets taken away. They can earn a second chance if they apologize and behave nicely, but if they repeat the misbehavior, they're done. (doesn't take too many times before they figure it out!)  When they finish their dinner, they say "Thank you for dinner, Mom & Dad, may I be excused?" and then the 7 & 4yo are expected to clear their own plates and pick up any mess they left on the table or floor.

 

Most of the time, this works pretty well.  If you establish a routine where you clearly communicate expectations and consequences before hand, it is easier to enforce, especially when they understand the reason is to have a nice family dinner together, where everyone is happy. I also make sure they are hungry before dinner, and what I feed them is mostly stuff they like to eat...I do try to expand their horizons occasionally, in that case I tell them they just have to try a bite to see if they like it. If not, I say "Well, maybe you haven't grown those taste buds yet - we'll try again later." Then they feel like trying new foods means they're growing up!

 

Good luck - I know how challenging it can be, but just find a routine that works for you and stick to it. You'll be fine! thumb.gif


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