With the exception of their safety, I would classify myself as a generally laid-back mom, almost to a fault at times. Ha. 🙂 I sometimes wonder if I should research this or that a little more than I do, because for the most part we do a lot of drummin’ to our own beat around here!
So on our nice long road trip that we just finished up, there was one little issue that was magnified over and over and over again as we traveled and enjoyed meals in our friends’ and families’ homes: Hadley’s mealtime manners.
Note: I’m totally not about to throw my sweet girl under the bus all over the internet, because she’s a total rockstar and blows my mind daily at how mature she is in so many ways. BUT! She’s not perfect, of course. And we need to work on what happens when it’s time to eat.
Because she’s off-the-charts picky, we’ve focused heavily for so long on just getting a few bites in her belly that we’ve failed to teach her how to properly sit at the table. Our rule has always been that she needs to sit down and eat about five bites of her meal before she gets back up to play. She usually complies and is excellent about bringing her plate to the sink and going to wash her hands; we’ve never really thought twice about our mealtime routine for her. She’s three, after all!
But Lordy… the things we’ve taught her didn’t quite cut it during our trip and left us feeling a bit embarrassed at times. We stopped in and ate meals in many of our family and friends’ homes across the country, and every time we felt a little stressed and were apologizing. Meltdowns, running around screaming and playing, up and down from the table 100 times, constant interruptions, etc. She’s been doing this for a couple years as a one and two year old, but this was the first trip were I honestly felt a little embarrassed; I would fully expect this from my 15-month-old (of course), but my almost four year old should be acting better.
So is this just “typical three year old stuff” or is this something we actively need to correct? Jamie and I are fully on the same page and 100% going with the latter. Hadley is generally a fantastic listener and so incredibly teachable right now, so we decided that it’s time we put our foot down and teach her that 1.) meltdowns when being told to sit down at the table are not going to fly anymore and 2.) she will sit at the table until she’s excused, and that meltdowns will be punished. We do not want to yell or spank or threaten but try to tackle this calmly. These are lessons she wasn’t born knowing and that as her parents it is our job to teach her. She deserves that.
Jamie’s grandmother is such a doll and told us a casual story a couple weeks ago about how when they were growing up everybody sat around the table, ate what was served, got up when they were excused, and that was it for the night. Tough luck if you didn’t like what was served and were hungry later. Oh well! Kids didn’t have “eating issues”. You ate what you were served, when you were served, and listened to your parents. My mom reiterated the same message. She remembers her parents being strict about not getting up until you were excused.
I’m super super super grateful that the last two weeks slapped me across the face with this task; it’s time to teach our girl some better table manners. 🙂
Parenting – whew – there’s always something!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback regarding table manners and young kiddos. What’s worked for you and your family? Do you agree that this is something that should be tackled or am I being a little too tough on Hadley?