How to get kids to eat at the table, Part III

Apr 6, 2010 by

Answering a reader’s question about how to stop children’s complaining, playing around and dawdling at the dinner table.

Lindsey,

I have some more thoughts on the question.

I think you need a bit less nonchalance about your son’s behavior and a bit more nonchalance—masterly inactivity, a purposeful leaving alone—about the eating itself.

I suggest laying down the law on behavior at the table: we do not come to the table and complain. Nor do we play around and dawdle. I’m sure you don’t want him to get in the habit of fussing and whining and being disagreeable. I know you would not like him to go to someone else’s house and express himself that way. Or treat his wife that way someday. You son needs to be taught that if he wants to eat dinner with the family, he has to be polite.  I’m sure he will decide that, yes, he…

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Part II: Q&A on tiding over a two-year-old before dinner

Feb 24, 2010 by

This post is the second installment of my answer to the question of a reader, Jen, a few days ago:

My two-year-old eats really well most days, and we only have real food in the house. There are times though, when I’m moments away from having a meal ready, and he has the refrigerator open pointing at the yogurt or applesauce. I often tell him that after he eats the soup, spaghetti, red beans and rice, or whatever it is we’re having, then he can have the yogurt. I’ll say, “First we’re going to eat the soup, then we can have some yogurt.” Is this wrong? Is this like offering a reward? He usually complies without much of a fuss, though occasionally he throws a bit of a tantrum. I think the problem is he’s hungry, but the food isn’t on the table yet. If it’s going to be a…

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Question & Answer on how to tide over a hungry two-year-old before dinner

Feb 21, 2010 by

A question from Jen, a reader:

My two-year-old eats really well most days, and we only have real food in the house. There are times though, when I’m moments away from having a meal ready, and he has the refrigerator open pointing at the yogurt or applesauce. I often tell him that after he eats the soup, spaghetti, red beans and rice, or whatever it is we’re having, then he can have the yogurt. I’ll say, “First we’re going to eat the soup, then we can have some yogurt”. Is this wrong? Is this like offering a reward? He usually complies without much of a fuss, though occasionally he throws a bit of a tantrum. I think the problem is he’s hungry, but the food isn’t on the table yet. If it’s going to be a while before dinner is ready, I’ll let him have the yogurt or applesauce…

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The habit of paying attention (or not) and the role of eating in forming it (or not)

Dec 4, 2009 by

Would you say your child is usually:

• Focused on what she is supposed to be doing at any given moment?

• Fully present or mind elsewhere?

• Interested in what you or teachers present to him?

• Bored and disengaged by school work or healthy meals?

• Easily distracted and has difficulty in paying attention?

• Ready to do what it’s time to do?

Maybe it’s not just those preservatives and food additives that are causing attention deficit in kids. Whether you child generally pays attention and is interested in what’s going on or whether instead he is habitually inattentive and bored can be largely a matter of training and habit. Functioning in a continual state of distraction instead of focus can be the result of conditioning.

It depends on a few simple differences in tactics, including at the dinner table.

In what ways are we building the habit of not paying attention in our children through…

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Dinner Table Affirmation: How to be more while doing less

Sep 4, 2009 by

AlexBowlscan

My now-teenage son in the early 90’s–photo by Anna Migeon

In every relationship with another human being one either affirms or denies. There is no in-between!” states Conrad W. Baars, M.D. Born Only Once: The Miracle of Affirmation.

According to Baars, it is essential to a child’s emotional health to feel affirmed from a young age, to be accepted and appreciated unconditionally.

From the first day of life, eating is a place of either affirmation or denial, of personal acceptance or rejection for a child. Eating is the daily opportunity to nurture the parent-child relationship and to demonstrate affirmation or to fail to do so.

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The Golden Rule and Helicopter Parents at the Dinner Table

Sep 2, 2009 by

1097863_stock helicopter

I’ve just started hearing about “helicopter parents.”  A new term, maybe, but certainly not a new phenomenon. The tendency of modern parents to hover is especially manifested at feeding time.

Driven by fear, overbearing, over involved, fussy, these anxious parents worry out loud and take on responsibilities that don’t belong to them in attempting to make things perfect in their children’s lives, from eating to education.

“Feeding is a metaphor for the parent-child relationship overall,” writes Ellyn Satter, author of How to Get Your Kid to Eat… But Not Too Much.  “Parents will probably treat a child in other areas the way they learn to treat her in feeding.”

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