Six sample consequences for children's disagreeable dinner table behavior that will eliminate misbehavior as well as food refusal

Jul 28, 2010 by

1.  Don’t let them finish their dinner if they won’t cooperate and follow your rules at the table. Screaming, whining, complaining, whatever it is your children are doing that you don’t want to send them out into the cold cruel world in the habit of doing, make getting food dependent on doing things your way.  Be unemotional about it. Absence makes the stomach grow fonder. The desperation will shift from you to them.  While in the immediate, this consequence means they eat less, in the long-term they will eat more. Hunger turns eating suddenly into something kids want to do.  While pushing food creates resistance, pulling it away increases desire. As Elaine Gibson writes in “Useless Power Struggles,” “We can’t make children eat, but we can make them wish they had.”

2.   Send them to their room, along with number one.

3.    Make them eat alone at another table elsewhere while the family eats together.  Casually talk and laugh loudly a lot after they leave. Shifts eating at the table from a thing they resist to something they do want to do. It’s all how you position it. Make eating at the table a valued privilege for those who have the maturity to behave pleasantly, instead of something you as the parent are desperate for them to do.

4.    Are they throwing or playing with food or poking around and being too slow, not eating when it’s time to eat? Take their plates away and end the meal, without being emotional and angry and pushy. Just say, “You must not be hungry,” casually, unemotionally. A little later, if you don’t give in to their pleading, their temporary hunger will teach them to move quickly next time. Instead of pushing them to eat, pull food away and they will come forward.

6.  Throwing fits because they’re still hungry after dinner or waking you up at night because they’re hungry? Tell them: “If you continue to throw a tantrum or get out of  bed in the night and wake us up because you didn’t eat enough dinner, you are going to be in trouble.” Hide your anger, but give them an unpleasant consequence, such as: “You will stay in your room all day the next day, or you will not be able to go to your friend’s house, or the pool or you will lose all video game privileges.” Then do it. Next time they’ll think twice.

Related Posts:

Six ways to orchestrate kids’ desire to eat what you want them to eat, Part I

Eating power struggles with kids: why they’re useless and how to end them

How to get kids to eat at the table: the Push-Pull Principle

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 28 July 2010 / All rights reserved


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