Every once in a while, my husband will remind me what dinner time use to be like at our home. I don’t think that I have forgotten, necessarily. I just think that I have blocked it out because it used to be horrid!
A reader left this comment:
Have any ideas for meals at the table? At 4 1/2 we still deal with many knocked over cups, food dropped on the floor, eating with fingers, and not sitting upright on his chair. We have him sit on a bench without a back so he has a little more “wiggle room” and he can put his feet up to feel more supported. We’ve also tried tying a ribbon around his chair and waist, as a “seat belt” on the regular chairs. He’s always leaning over on me (I sit next to him since I’m the only one it doesn’t drive crazy). He doesn’t like to use his napkin because he doesn’t want to get it dirty. We remind him to use his fork, sit up, etc. and send him away from the table if he’s being intentionally uncooperative or naughty. I just don’t want to be scolding him for things he can’t help.
Can you relate? I found myself smiling reading this as it brought back memories.
I am happy to say that meal time is no longer a scream fest. I don’t want to walk away and bang my head against the wall either. So, there is hope.
The biggest advice I can give you is to work on one thing at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a perfect meal (like pictures above) won’t happen over night either.
I would start with sitting in the chair properly. Before a meal time, pull your child aside with a stuffed animal or doll. Explain that you are going to do something new at meal times now and everyone in the family – including “Susie” – needs to know. Practice what is proper and practice what is not proper. We use tokens or poker chips in our family. Everyone starts with three at a meal. If all three are taken, then no dessert or candy that meal. Let the children notice when you are doing it wrong (and over exaggerate!)
Once that is mastered, move on to the next thing. Maybe using a utensil or not smacking.
If your child is having trouble keeping their feet still, provide them with a box or stool to place their feet. You can even draw the outline of the feet on the box.
Bubs used a sippy cup way longer than peers his age. That was one battle that I was not going to fight. We needed him to succeed and a split drink every meal was no allowing for success.
One night Bubs tried to convince us that he couldn’t use a fork because he would get it dirty. If that is a concern, let them choose something that they can use. Give them an option of several utensils, napkins or rags, etc.
If you are concerned that your child truly can not control something, take the exact same scenario to the OT. See how they do there. Then you can truly see if it is behavior or sensory.
How do you survive meal time?