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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>I certainly don't expect my high-energy 3-year-old DS1 to sit at the table for an hour and eat perfectly with a fork and knife and say things like "Will someone please pass the salt?"  I try to have age-appropriate expectations, and at his age/stage I feel it's appropriate to expect him to sit at the table for about 10 minutes and eat something, even if it's not a lot.</p>
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<p>To give some background, he still nurses lots and doesn't eat a lot of solids.  He's very picky with solids too.  I'm fine with him not eating what we eat and will offer him something different if it's healthy/quick/easy/convenient.  I don't make separate meals, but I have no problem grabbing him some baby carrots, cheese, and whole wheat crackers if that's what he wants.  We're also not very formal with meal times.  He mostly grazes during the day and dinner is the only meal for which we all sit at the table.  We've been doing so a little more at breakfast but usually DS1 will come over and sit for a minute, eat a few Cheerios, and then go back to playing.  At breakfast he likes to sit in a regular chair and does fine with it, at dinner he usually sits in a highchair still if he joins us at all.  We give him the option of sitting in a big boy chair, but often he'll take the opportunity to climb on the table and get into DH's and my food, the salt shaker, our glass of water, etc.  Needless to say we don't tolerate the climbing on the table.   Sometimes he wants to climb all over Daddy, making it very difficult for my husband to eat his food.  At Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's house, she had a special kids table for DS1 and her 5-year-old son, and DS1 refused to sit so we let him go play but I felt bad.  Same at Christmas dinner at our house.  I could feel everyone judging us both times, and while that usually doesn't bother me, it bothers me when I'm not super-confident in our decisions to begin with.  Both times my husband kind of took the lead on letting him go play, and I understand why... because we couldn't physically force him to sit at the table and it would have ruined everyone's meal if he were throwing a fit.  And we try to take special circumstances like holiday meals into account too; it's not something we necessarily do on a regular basis at home.</p>
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<p>Anyway, I do want teach/enforce some very basic expectations, like sitting at the table for 10 minutes.  I don't even mind if he doesn't eat and we give him a toy instead; I know we can't force him to eat if he's not hungry.  I do think that part of the "problem" is that he often asks for a snack in the late afternoon, so he's probably NOT hungry at dinnertime.  It's really important to us to teach him to eat when he's hungry and not when he's full, so I don't want to limit his food intake when he requests.  So anyway, now that I've identified my expectations, how on earth do we enforce them?  We can't physically force him to sit in his highchair or regular chair.   And even if we could, I don't want him to sit crying at the table for a certain amount of time just to prove a point.  He speaks well, but I think it's beyond his understanding for us to explain that dinnertime is family time and even if he's not hungry we'd like him to sit with us, etc.  Sometimes if he's eaten a sufficient amount of healthy food before dinner, we'll give him a cookie which I'm actually OK with (I'd be getting tomatoes thrown at me on the Nutrition board),  but I don't want to make a habit of bribing him with dessert.</p>
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<p>Any tips or advice will be greatly appreciated.  TIA for any replies!</p>
 

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<p>Omg, I just wrote this big long reply to you and then hit "clear" instead of "submit".  Ugh!  I hope I only make that mistake once. </p>
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<p>I don't have any help with getting him to sit down, but I did want to say I think letting him play is a great solution.  I would do the same and not feel bad about it at all, especially if he was playing in a way that didn't interfere with everyone else enjoying the meal.  If your family was being judgmental about it, that's not very open-minded or generous-hearted.  I hope you were just imagining it.</p>
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<p>FWIW, I never forced my 7-yr-old to sit through a meal, even for ten minutes, (except if we're in a restaurant and can't get around it -- in fact, one of my fave restaurants has a play area for kids, lol) and he does great at school where they have a half hour lunch period that he has to sit through.  I think he actually likes it and enjoys sitting with his friends.  He did pretty well at thanksgiving this year, too, but he's not a big eater and after maybe the first 10 or 15 min he was in and out and I think everyone was happy to have him there when he appeared, but fine about him doing his own thing, too. </p>
 

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<p>To begin with I just want to note that we have a LOT in common when it comes to eating philosophies for our children. Among other things my DS is a high energy 2.5 yr old who is a grazer. I too want him to learn to listen to his own body about when he needs food and when he doesn't.</p>
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<p>My main thoughts are in response to this comment. <br>
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<p>Originally Posted by <strong>SollysMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1287437/table-manners-and-3-year-old#post_16139434"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></p>
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<p>I try to have age-appropriate expectations, and at his age/stage I feel it's appropriate to expect him to sit at the table for about 10 minutes and eat something, even if it's not a lot.</p>
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<p>My questions are: What exactly/specifically are your expectations based on? Are they based on other children of his age? Are they based on what an "expert" says? Are they based on his demonstrated abilities? Are they based on his temperament? Are they based on his needs? You can identify any expectation you want but if it just doesn't fit your child it is probably a lesson in futility and frustration.</p>
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<p>You also noted that dinner is the time that he is probably the least hungry. If you really want to stick with 10 minutes you could try it first at the "meal time" he is most hungry. Maybe it won't be with the entire family but it might be a beginning. My DS is most likely to sit for that long at breakfast or lunch just depending on how hungry he is, how much he is distracted by more interesting activities, and how much he likes what I am serving. Pancakes and pasta are my best bets! :)</p>
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<p>Perhaps you could also try noting for a few days just how long he does normally sit at the table with you. Then you could use that as a base for the time that is truly appropriate for him. If he usually lasts three minutes maybe you could try extending it to 5 minutes for a month or so. Then move it up incrementally.</p>
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<p>My thoughts for what they are worth. :)</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
<p>Thanks so much for the replies!</p>
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<p>healthy momma, I would say that my expectations are based on what he's shown he can do when he's willing to cooperate.  Occasionally we'll luck out and he'll last 30 minutes in his highchair, but when he's willing to sit at all, 10 minutes is usually what we can realistically expect.  The real problem is the times when he's not even willing to sit in the first place.</p>
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<p>One of our most important parenting philosophies is applying the Golden Rule to our children and trying to look at things from their perspectives.  I was thinking more about this, and trying to apply that philosophy to this situation.  If the importance of dinnertime is more about spending time together as a family and less about eating, we need to make sure that he's getting something out of the family time.  I think too often, DH and I try to talk to each other and catch up about our days, and whenever one of the kids fusses we offer them more or different food thinking that's the reason.  Maybe we should try to engage him more in our conversations or even verbal "play" so dinnertime is more fun for him.  Looking at the current situation from his perspective, why <em>would</em> he want to sit at the table with us if he's not hungry and it's just boring adult conversation?</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">
<p>Originally Posted by <strong>SollysMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1287437/table-manners-and-3-year-old#post_16141093"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></p>
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<p>One of our most important parenting philosophies is applying the Golden Rule to our children and trying to look at things from their perspectives.  I was thinking more about this, and trying to apply that philosophy to this situation.  If the importance of dinnertime is more about spending time together as a family and less about eating, we need to make sure that he's getting something out of the family time.  I think too often, DH and I try to talk to each other and catch up about our days, and whenever one of the kids fusses we offer them more or different food thinking that's the reason.  Maybe we should try to engage him more in our conversations or even verbal "play" so dinnertime is more fun for him.  Looking at the current situation from his perspective, why <em>would</em> he want to sit at the table with us if he's not hungry and it's just boring adult conversation?</p>
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Great insight! I'd love to hear how this works for you. </p>
 
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