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How do you get your kids to sit down for meals?

We have always been a family that sits down at the dining table for every meal. But my kids are unable to sit down for an entire meal. I'm not sure why. I know kids are antsy. But I've seen other children accomplish this goal, so I know it is possible. Mine are always up to get water, absently wandering into the other room to look at a toy that caught their eye, getting up to see what their sibling is doing....I don't get it. I'm constantly saying, "Sit down!" or "Get your butt in your chair!" and eventually threatening that they will be sent to bed early if they get up one more time or something like that. I do actually follow through with the threats. So I'm just not sure what I'm missing. What do you do to get your kids to sit down and eat at the table without bouncing up and down out of their seat eighty times thoughout the meal?


Asked by looselylucid at 9:55 PM on Feb. 10, 2011 in General Parenting

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Answers (9)
  • My kids have to ask to be excused from the table. Even to get a drink. "May I please be excused" was one of the first sentences my autistic son learned.

    Answer by layh41407 at 10:07 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • If my kids get up from the table their food is taken away until the next meal. I tell them if you'd rather play, wander the house than eat then you won't eat. Or something similar. The 4 year old's wandering has dramatically decreased, only took the loss of a couple meals for her to figure it out.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 10:01 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • We sit down at the table for most all meals, including breakfast.
    TV goes off and we talk. The kids are not allowed to leave until they ask to be excused. Usually they have to wait until everyone is just about finished eating. They may be through eating, but we deserve their company while the rest of us finish. It is just good manners.

    Answer by tootoobusy at 10:03 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • We usually shut the tv off and i get the kids involoved in setting the table and getting things ready for dinner. Sometimes one will fill the glasses with drinks or help putting the food on the table. Then we sit down together and talk about our days. Usually I ask "How was your day?" to someone and they talk about 3 special things from their day and then they ask the next person.

    My kids don't always ask to be excused although after dinner they have to help clean up the table. It might sounds crazy what if you did a reward chart of some kind. Like a jar with different colored marble for each child. When they sit through a whole meal they get a marble. After "X" amount of marbles they get a special treat. If they get up then you take a marble away. This is something visual and instead of always getting trouble they are getting a reward be behaving. We usually did something like going for ice cream

    Good Luck

    Answer by cornflakegirl3 at 10:25 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • i have always had all meals at the table, from the time my kids were big enough for high chairs. we turn the tv off at meal time, it's just second nature to them to sit down and eat

    Answer by josiesmommy00 at 10:38 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • Ours have to be asked to be excused, and we also go around the table while we're eating and each of us talk about our day.. For instance, I will ask each of them to tell us about something fun they did at school, or if it's a weekend, then we talk about other things.. The main thing is to have good conversation, and listen to them. Children like to be heard, and it builds their confidence when they are able to have a normal conversation, and know they're heard... We also have set rules, and they know they are NOT to interrupt their Brothers while they're talking, etc...

    Answer by MrsLeftlane at 10:34 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • Like I said, we have always sat down at the table for every meal. Including breakfast. We are in the kitchen/dining room. There is no tv around. We are all talking. I don't allow toys at the table. It's just the four of us (three if my husband is not home) sitting down to a meal. It's like the conversation gets them excited and they jump up and have to grab something or go over to each other to demonstrate something. I've threatened to take their food away. But when it comes down to it I don't have the heart to follow through on that threat. I LOVE the marble idea. I think I will try to find a variation of that. Sounds very "Supernanny-ish". I was trying to find Supernanny advice on this topic and couldn't. Anyway, thanks everyone for the tips!

    Comment by looselylucid (original poster) at 11:19 PM on Feb. 10, 2011

  • I haven't had this issue personally, but I must say I really like the marble idea! I can see that really helping without being an excessive punishment. Good luck!

    Answer by toriandgrace at 12:32 AM on Feb. 11, 2011

  • My older ones have to ask to be excused, and we're working on it with our 2 year old. If he gets up, his meal is over and he doesn't get anything else until the next meal/snack.

    Answer by missanc at 9:37 AM on Feb. 11, 2011