“We Only Eat When In Our Seat”
The Secret Rule That Brings Peace to the Dinner Table.
I loved your article on eating out in peace. It made an immediate difference when we go out with kids.
But what about dining at home? My kids are always running around like crazy, and I can’t keep them in their seat. When I do get them to sit down, they are always picking at each other. Help! Then, when dinner is over, they eat junk, junk, and more junk. How do I stop this pattern?
Theresa, mother of three
I am happy that you enjoyed the article on eating out in peace. You can certainly create the same kind of peaceful environment when eating at home. Kids can present several different challenges, and each can be dealt with by following a few simple guidelines.
Dr. Cale’s Eating In Sanity Rules.
1. You Can Only Eat If You Stay In Your Seat.
More and more kids are very active tend to jump out of their seats, run around, punch their brother, run back and forth to the TV. You can put an end to this easily. You let your kids know you’ll only get to eat when you remain in your seat. If you get out of your seat, you’re done. What’s dinner starts and you put the rule into place, you might remind them just once per meal, for the first week. After this, the rule stands without you having to state it. Now the kids get out of their seats, you simply reach over and take their plate. Put their food in the garbage and let them know they’re done. No discussion. No snacks, until the next meal.
Okay, I know this sounds harsh but keep listening. If you have concerns about them missing a meal, please don’t. We know your kids can go for three weeks without food. Of course, am not recommending three weeks and you really don’t have to be concerned about that. I’m pointing out that missing a meal will not harm them in any way. I encourage you to check with your pediatrician if you have questions about this. I emphasize this point because it’s essential for you to remain in a place of calm clarity as you respond with a clear consequence.
Give clear notice: You only eat when you stay in your seat. End of story.
2. We Only Eat When There’s Peace.
If your kids get ugly or they start calling each other names and kicking under the table, let them know they’re excused. Again, take their plate and put food in the garbage, and let them know they’re done until the next meal. Again, no snacks, no cheating, nothing in between.
Why is this so important? Because the consequence of feeling they are hungry is the teacher here. They need to be able to feel the consequence given without anger, without ugliness, or an argument. You simply fulfill the promise that you made for them. If they’re not eating in peace, they’re not going to eat.
The beauty of this is that the learning curve is remarkably rapid. You will be no longer eating with all of this bickering and complaining or kids being up and out of their seats. They will get quickly and rapidly because the consequences are immediate, powerful, and stay around for few hours.
3. We Only Eat What Mom or Dad Has Prepared.
This helps to settle the issue of preparing a second meal or having your kids fix themselves a snack when they don’t want to eat the healthy meal on the table. For many households, this may not be important. For other households, it is extremely important.
Just operate from a base where you feel comfortable for the fact that you are putting a healthy meal on the table. They can either eat it or not eat it. It’s not an option to complain, get up and prepare another meal. This gets you out of the role of potentially being a short-order cook…and feeling as if your efforts are not appreciated.
Put these three rules in place and you’ll see how calm, peaceful, and enjoyable dining at home can be for everyone. To learn more, go to www.Help-Your-Overweight-Child.com (no longer active – click here instead).