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Does your preschooler sit at the dinner table with the family?



 
 
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  #1  
Old May 10th 05, 06:27 PM
Robyn Kozierok
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Default Does your preschooler sit at the dinner table with the family?


My boys are 4, 8 and 11yo. When we sit down for a family dinner,
we don't currently force the 4yo to join us. We sometimes give him
something to eat earlier if he's hungry, but more often that not
he basically skips dinner, or eats only a few bites. He's very tiny,
but completely healthy. But he really doesn't eat much, especially
at dinnertime.

My question is not about feeding him, as we have worked out a plan
with his pediatrician where he is healthy and growing, albeit slowly.

My question is, if your young child is done eating his dinner before
the rest of the family, do you expect him to stay at the table with
you? We usually let him go off to play or watch a video. And frankly,
we prefer to do that because it makes mealtimes much more relaxed for
the rest of us. We do make our older children stay at the table for
a reasonable amount of time, and I think we started with them before
they were 4yo. But this one just doesn't seem "inclined" to sit still
for a while at that time of day. (He eats lunch with his group at
preschool, so he does get "experience" with group mealtime behavior.)

Any thoughts?

--Robyn
..

  #2  
Old May 10th 05, 07:11 PM
Scott
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Default

Robyn Kozierok wrote:
My boys are 4, 8 and 11yo. When we sit down for a family dinner,
we don't currently force the 4yo to join us. We sometimes give him
something to eat earlier if he's hungry, but more often that not
he basically skips dinner, or eats only a few bites. He's very tiny,
but completely healthy. But he really doesn't eat much, especially
at dinnertime.

My question is not about feeding him, as we have worked out a plan
with his pediatrician where he is healthy and growing, albeit slowly.

My question is, if your young child is done eating his dinner before
the rest of the family, do you expect him to stay at the table with
you? We usually let him go off to play or watch a video. And frankly,
we prefer to do that because it makes mealtimes much more relaxed for
the rest of us. We do make our older children stay at the table for
a reasonable amount of time, and I think we started with them before
they were 4yo. But this one just doesn't seem "inclined" to sit still
for a while at that time of day. (He eats lunch with his group at
preschool, so he does get "experience" with group mealtime behavior.)



When ours were preschoolers, they left when they were done.
As you know, squirmy kids do not a pleasant dining experience
make. Even now, DD and DS will sometimes be excused (they
do have to ask) before I or my wife are done eating. I guess
they kind of have to ask -- we eat in a nook, and they're on
the inside seats next to the wall Usually they have
something to do when they ask.

More and more, recently, we are all finishing at about the same
time, which is convenient because DD and DS have acquired the
chore of loading the dishwasher.

Scott DD 11 and DS 9

  #3  
Old May 10th 05, 07:12 PM
Karen G
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Default

We do expect our children to stay at the table with us for a little
while when they are done eating. For a long time our evening meals were
quite unpleasant because we (my husband and I) didn't really have
anything better to do that critique their manners. My husband came up
with an evening conversation plan that has helped all of us enjoy the
time whether we are eating or not. Everyone actually looks forward to
dinner because we get to share.

Our plan:
What was one good thing and one bad thing that happened to you today?

Our 6 year old is able to participate fully at this point.
Our 5 year old still uses the game as an acceptable form of tattling
from time to time.
Our 2 1/2 year old reports the same things every day.

We start this after everyone has been served and has started eating. It
usually takes us about 3 to 5 minutes apiece--total 20 minutes or so.

I don't think sitting still is necessarily the key for a 4 year old as
much as making the meal a social time that he is "engaged" in what is
going on around the table with his family. You mentioned that your son
is getting social involvement at preschool, but I feel that family
involvement is uniquely different.

We had one surprise outcome of the plan: When someone gets down from
the table for a reason other than to get another fork/napkin/etc or go
to the bathroom, their plate and cup is removed. Losing your plate
before you get to share is more or less considered capital punishment by
the 5 and 6 year old.

Karen

  #4  
Old May 10th 05, 07:13 PM
Nikki
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Robyn Kozierok wrote:

My question is, if your young child is done eating his dinner before
the rest of the family, do you expect him to stay at the table with
you?


No. I even tell them they can go do something else if they are done but
they usually won't go. They are a lot of work if they are sitting there but
not hungry so I wouldn't mind at all! I do have a rule that once you
leave, your meal is over.

If my 4yo isn't hungry he spends his time testing limits at meal time. This
is his all time favorite pass time, lol. It sounds as if the before meal
snacking is meeting your over all nutrition goal so I wouldn't sweat the
part about sitting at the table.

Mine just turned 4yo and 6yo.

--
Nikki


  #5  
Old May 10th 05, 07:59 PM
dragonlady
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Default

In article ,
(Robyn Kozierok) wrote:

My boys are 4, 8 and 11yo. When we sit down for a family dinner,
we don't currently force the 4yo to join us. We sometimes give him
something to eat earlier if he's hungry, but more often that not
he basically skips dinner, or eats only a few bites. He's very tiny,
but completely healthy. But he really doesn't eat much, especially
at dinnertime.

My question is not about feeding him, as we have worked out a plan
with his pediatrician where he is healthy and growing, albeit slowly.

My question is, if your young child is done eating his dinner before
the rest of the family, do you expect him to stay at the table with
you? We usually let him go off to play or watch a video. And frankly,
we prefer to do that because it makes mealtimes much more relaxed for
the rest of us. We do make our older children stay at the table for
a reasonable amount of time, and I think we started with them before
they were 4yo. But this one just doesn't seem "inclined" to sit still
for a while at that time of day. (He eats lunch with his group at
preschool, so he does get "experience" with group mealtime behavior.)

Any thoughts?

--Robyn
.


My kids sat at the table for dinner from infancy on. Seriously: if
they were awake, we put them in their seats on the table. Once they
were big enough for high chairs, that's where they were during dinner.

In general, they stayed at the table until a meal was over, though they
weren't always eating -- we included them in the conversations, and
played with them.

As they got older, they'd ask to be excused when they were done, and
whether we said yes or no would depend on variables like how much they'd
eaten and whether we had company.

With one, we had to make a rule that she had to stay at the dinner table
for a certain number of minutes, because otherwise she'd announce she
was full so she could run back outside to play, and then come in at bed
time starving. We didn't make her eat -- I've never forced my kids to
eat -- but if she stayed at the table she DID eat.

By making it more about the family being together than about the food,
it seemed to help.
--
Children won't care how much you know until they know how much you care

  #6  
Old May 10th 05, 09:06 PM
Robyn Kozierok
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Default

In article ,
Karen G wrote:

You mentioned that your son
is getting social involvement at preschool, but I feel that family
involvement is uniquely different.


Oh, sure, I didn't mean to suggest that *all* of his social involvement
happens at preschool, but that because they eat a communal meal together
(served "family style", not lunchboxes from home) they get age-appropriate
practice in the niceties of eating a meal with others ("please pass...",
"excuse me", etc...)

I think he does get a lot of social interaction with the rest of us at
various times, just not at the dinner table.

--Robyn
..

  #7  
Old May 10th 05, 11:19 PM
Penny Gaines
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Default

Karen G wrote:

We do expect our children to stay at the table with us for a little
while when they are done eating.**For*a*long*time*our*evening*meals*were
quite unpleasant because we (my husband and I) didn't really have
anything better to do that critique their manners.**My*husband*came*up
with an evening conversation plan that has helped all of us enjoy the
time whether we are eating or not.**Everyone*actually*looks*forward*to
dinner because we get to share.


This really helps in our family as well: we don't neccessaily insist on
anyone making conversation, but if one kid is saying they aren't hungry,
and hence don't want to come to the meal table, we tell them it is their
job to make polite conversation. Depending on which kid, they may then eat
something.

--
Penny Gaines
UK mum to three

  #8  
Old May 10th 05, 11:36 PM
Kevin Karplus
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Default

On 2005-05-10, Nikki wrote:
I do have a rule that once you leave, your meal is over.


If we had this rule, my son would use it almost every day to skip dinner.
Food does not motivate him!

We do require him to stay at the table until he has tasted each of the
dishes (we don't require him to eat everything, just taste), and he
has to ask politely to be excused from the table. We started those
rules around age 5, if I remember right.

The other dinner rule is "no reading". (We have an exception for
reading aloud something to share with the family.) This rule has been
hard on him (and on me), since our natural inclination is to read
while we eat, but it has helped us have conversations at dinner.

Reading is ok at breakfast and lunch, just not the evening meal.
For breakfast and sometimes for lunch, he uses a cookbook holder to
hold the book and protect it from food splashes.



------------------------------------------------------------
Kevin Karplus http://www.soe.ucsc.edu/~karplus
Professor of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
Undergraduate and Graduate Director, Bioinformatics
(Senior member, IEEE) (Board of Directors, ISCB)
life member (LAB, Adventure Cycling, American Youth Hostels)
Effective Cycling Instructor #218-ck (lapsed)
Affiliations for identification only.

  #9  
Old May 10th 05, 11:36 PM
Robyn Kozierok
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Posts: n/a
Default

In article ,
dragonlady wrote:

My kids sat at the table for dinner from infancy on. Seriously: if
they were awake, we put them in their seats on the table. Once they
were big enough for high chairs, that's where they were during dinner.


It was easier when they were babies. They needed direct supervision
anyhow, so where else could they be? It's that stretch between the
high chair age and the time when they have the patience to sit still for
a few minutes that is the hard part.

With one, we had to make a rule that she had to stay at the dinner table
for a certain number of minutes, because otherwise she'd announce she
was full so she could run back outside to play, and then come in at bed
time starving. We didn't make her eat -- I've never forced my kids to
eat -- but if she stayed at the table she DID eat.


Yeah, one of my older kids was like that for a while, and we said he
had to stay at the table for X minutes, or until he was done with
(some reasonable portion of) his meal. Like your daughter, if he was
stuck at the table anyway, he usually did eat.

By making it more about the family being together than about the food,
it seemed to help.


I guess we're overall not that big into mealtimes being a social time.
We are pretty "down to business" at dinner time. For better or for
worse, we eat more than we talk. We have family "hang out" time at
other times, particularly weekend mornings, where activities, when
present, start much later and give us time to just "be" together, enjoy
one another, and talk.

--Robyn
..

  #10  
Old May 11th 05, 12:55 AM
Nikki
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Kevin Karplus wrote:
On 2005-05-10, Nikki wrote:
I do have a rule that once you leave, your meal is over.


If we had this rule, my son would use it almost every day to skip
dinner. Food does not motivate him!


Lucky for me the one that wants to run run run (4yo) is the one with an
appetite!!

My 6yo would skip meals but he stays at the table better. He also eats
better since he's been in school. I don't think he eats much lunch. He has
turned into fidget/squirm king but he never wants to leave.

The other dinner rule is "no reading". (We have an exception for
reading aloud something to share with the family.) This rule has been
hard on him (and on me), since our natural inclination is to read
while we eat, but it has helped us have conversations at dinner.


I'd have never thought of that! I made a 'no TV at supper' rule. My dh
loves tv. He turns cartoons on in the morning. They sit still but they
don't eat very well.

--
Nikki


 




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