Sunday, November 20, 2011

dinner 101

one of the joys of raising young children is the battle of the dinner table. while the goal is to teach children respect, obedience and good table manners; the process can turn your dining room into world war 3 every single night. in our early parenting years, we took a hardcore stance to eating habits. YOU WILL EAT ALL OF THIS FOOD AND YOU WILL NOT LEAVE THE TABLE UNTIL YOU DO! but like many things in life, parenting is a trial and error experience. so while we still feel the same, we did not like the unintended consequences of the battle. dinner time is one of the only times in a day where we are all sitting together around a table. one of our only times to connect as a family. kind of hard to do when you spend it fighting a two year old to eat green beans! eventually, our tactics evolved into what we do today! our rules are pretty simple, but effective.

1. you will eat what is served to you or you will be hungry. we will not fight with you. we will not try to cajole you or threaten you into eating. you can leave the table when dinner time is over. but you will get nothing else to eat until you finish that dinner.

2. if choose not to eat your dinner at dinner time, you forfeit your snack. even if you choose to eat later. you can come back and finish your dinner any time before bed, but you get no snack. sorry! (for a child that frequently chooses not to, you'd be amazed the effect if there suddenly are some really great desserts! they may not care they're missing out on a regular snack but a few times of something really special and they may change their tune :)

3. no complaining about the food is permitted. it is rude and disrespectful. you will thank the person who made it for you and be thankful to have it. we would never allow our children to tell another person they did not like the food prepared, why should they be allowed to say this to their own mother?

4. everyone eats the same dinner. no exceptions. part of life is learning to adapt and learning to be graceful and respectful in things we don't like to do. welcome to growing up.

5. dinner is not a time to argue. if you choose to whine, complain, argue or any other unpleasant behavior, you will spend the dinner hour in your room. we'd like to eat in peace.

while we certainly have our nights of frustration, for the most part our children are good eaters who eat with manners and no complaint. our dinner table is a much more peaceful place once we decided it wasn't worth the chaos to force children to eat. and with five kids, we'll take all the peace we can get!

1 comment:

Becky said...

I've super impressed, and would have loved this advice before mine are 9 & 12. We agree completely with you, though. One meal, eat it or go hungry. I'd just wished I'd enforced this since birth, instead of starting it at the 4 & 7 year old marks. Some days they'll inhale whatever we make. And a different week you can make the same meal & they suddently hate it!