Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers: When Things Get Messy

Now, we all know toddlers have their moments. They aren't always little rosie-cheeked angels and we can't expect them to be. Here are common problems with dinner time and some things to try out.

1. Picky Eaters are taught to be picky. Most people don't know if they like something or not the first time they try it. Children need to try things several times before they can determine whether it's something yummy or something they will just push around on the plate. So try serving them the same type of veggie a few times before giving up for a little bit.

Also, we have a special little trick in our home. Changing names. Here, broccoli is "baby trees", cauliflower is "snow trees" and  brussels sprouts are "baby cabbages". Anything to make it sound less "veggie" and more interesting. The proof is in the pudding. My 4-yr-old daughter and 2-yr-old nephew love their veggies! (Note: No... putting the veggies in a blender will not work... we tried that at one point. lol!)

2. Scooting things around the plate is a clever little way for kids to hide the fact that they aren't eating much. Usually, they will fill up on the food they like and "hide" the rest. Here's what we do.
Try giving them a little of the food they like and a little of what you want them to try. Obviously, they will eat the good stuff and want more. Tell them they can have more when they try the things you want they to try. Usually, this does the trick. They aren't full yet...all they need is a little encouragement.

3. Refusing to behave...period. Yes, it will happen. All children have to test the boundaries and I promise your's are no different. When this happens, I find the best thing to do is to remove them from the situation. We simply scoot their chair away from the table so they have a little "time out". They are still involved with the meal and with family time. After a couple times of doing this, they will understand that, to have the good food and pleasant meal, they must behave correctly.

I realize this point is a little more about discipline and less about manners. However, they are tied together in this. Set the rules, follow them and discipline appropriately when necessary and everyone will be happy.

Any questions? Send me an email or leave a comment. I will do my best to help!

Tomorrow is back to being good so check back then!

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