Brooklyn is turning 5 soon so I am definitely in the “picky eating” world at times. It’s so darn unpredictable too! One day she eats the world and has an amazing attitude. The next week she hates everything I put in front of her. Then she will only eat one of the items on the plate. Then you add in the stress of your child getting up every 5 minutes. Playing with their food. Asking for another glass of water. Throwing an item they don’t like or want. Asking you to make them what THEY want to eat. How is something as glorious as eating a beautiful feast one of the most stressful parts of the day as well?
Below are my short tips and foundation for our family table. They work for us, you’ll see if they work for your family. These form the base of the positive family table experience I want for our family. We lay these out so the meal is enjoyable, we connect, we are mindful to what we are eating, and we have manners to respect ourselves and others eating around us.
- No television or electronic devices at the table. This doesn’t need an explanation. Let’s connect and talk. Bring some emotion to the table.
- Your butt needs to stay in the chair until mealtime is over. I allow 1 bathroom break because… well, sometimes you really have to pee. One glass of water is on the table when dinner starts, and that’s enough for dinner time. It’s like the bedtime routine of “Can I have a glass of waaaaaaaaaaaater only to manipulate you.” Brooklyn gets one “ooops” chance but if she gets up a 2nd time, the meal is done. She will not starve. This has worked for us but you do what’s comfortable for you.
- Proper seating at the table. This means no feet on the chair, no slouching with your head on the table, and no leaning over with one leg off the chair. Having your child be mindful of this teaches them manners and the focus of mealtime being important.
- No throwing food. If they don’t like it, it’s OK to politely say no and put it in the “No Thank You” bowl. I have a small bowl next to Brooklyn where if she doesn’t like it, and doesn’t want it on her plate, she puts the item(s) in the “No Thank You” bowl. We do not allow throwing of food at us nor on the floor. Establishing this is important in teaching them how to communicate when they don’t like something or they’re not in the mood for it. Because it’s is definitely OK if they don’t like it. It’s not a big deal.
- They have to try one bite of something new. I always put a couple items that I know Brooklyn likes for sure. But I also put something new out there, and perhaps a new version of something she already likes. I’ve taught her that her tongue won’t burn off, she won’t have to go to the hospital, her life isn’t going to end with a small taste. What do I do if she just will NOT try it? I don’t make a big deal of it. I try it myself and teach her in another way with me as the positive influence. Maybe the next day she’ll be more open to the new item.
I hope some of these help and would love to hear what works for YOU along with any challenges you have with a positive family table experience. Thanks for reading and all the best on your adventurous eating journey!