I find myself constantly directing my
children not to play with their food, not to chew with their
mouths open, and to sit still at the table. What can I do to
make mealtimes more enjoyable?
Focus on setting a good example and reinforcing children's positive behavior: "I like the way you are chewing with your mouth closed," or "Thank you for waiting until your brother was finished talking to say what you wanted to say." Try to ignore negative behaviors unless they are putting someone in danger or becoming very disruptive. Some instruction in table manners is necessary and desirable, but try to limit the number of times you say "Don't . . ." or "Stop . . .".
Source: Kim Leon, Ph.D., Former Assistant Professor and State Specialist, Human Development & Family Studies, Human Environmental Sciences Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia
Last update: Wednesday, May 13, 2009