I was specifically talking about dinner. Cereal boxes are OK for casual breakfast but when we have have Sunday brunch, etc they are a no-go.
Pardon me while I
We do not make DD stay. After she is finished she can ask to be excused and she has to clear her plate. However, there is no screen time until everyone is done and DH and I don't get up from the table to help her with a project or whatever, we get to finish our meal at our own pace. If she says she's bored or something--after having left the table--we invite her to come on back and join in the conversation. Sometimes after asking to be excused she'll hang out and chat or decide to eat a little more anyway.
Till recently we have not insisted that the kids stay at the table till we are finished. However neither of ours are great eaters, it's not so much pickyness about what they will eat but they are very wriggly and rarely eat much. However over the last few weeks we are noticing that if we can encourage them to stay at the table long enough to settle down they will eat much more of their dinner.
I don;t want to be sitting there saying 3 more bites of dinner before you can leave but asking them to stay and trying harder to engage them in conversation seems to be working for now. Ask me next week and you may get a very different answer
Dd is an only and is almost always the last to finish. This has not been a big issue for us. We all ask to be excused (which is kind of a rhetorical question, but we all ask it if we want to leave the table early). "Being excused" means going back to homework or work or something quiet that was being engaged in prior to dinner. Table manners are very important, as are all manners, in our household. Daily meals are not "formal", but they're proper. We eat together, at a table, and there is no TV allowed. We don't have video games (hand-held or otherwise) or smart phones, so TV would be the only distraction. About once every couple of months we'll order in pizza and "picnic" on the living room floor (blanket included to protect the rug) with a movie, but otherwise it's proper meals at a table. We have absolutely THE BEST conversations at the dinner table. It's everyone's favorite time of the day.
We stay at the table, too. And, like most everyone else, no TV or computer during supper.
At other people's houses and restaurants, I want my kids to be content at the table until the meal is done, so it works for me to teach that regularly at home. That way, it's much easier in other situations.
I also have a slow eater who is almost always the last one finished. She's 5.5. On the rare occasion she does finish early, she asks to be excused from the table and she is free to go. I appreciate her use of her manners. The 2 year old isn't capable, in my view, of sitting beyond the length of his meal, so, he's free to go.
Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
Yes, I let people leave the table when they are done eating.
We have a lot of foster kids in and out of our house. Our rule is everyone sits for dinner. I find that if we don't do this about 20 minutes after supper kids are hungry. And they are often more willing to give a meal a second try if they have nothing to do but sit there. We usually eat a later super and no bedtime snack so eating is important.
If we are having adult company over and wanting to talk longer then they are free to go but still no TV or computer as this is all basically in the same room .