View Full Version : How long do you expect your 2.5-3yr old to sit at table?

01-07-2005, 11:37 PM
We are having a struggle with DS at mealtimes. He doesn't want to come to the table, and then when there will eat a bite or two and then get down. DH expects him to sit there and eat until the meal is over. I have to remind him that even his older sons would only sit at the table long enough to shovel the food in when they were 10-14 yrs old! (my stepsons are now 19 & 21 - they sit longer now!) I don't want to force DS to eat - I know that you offer the food and they decide what and how much to eat. But at the same time, I know that he isn't full, he just wants to control the situation and act out because he knows that it bothers us. Also, 20 minutes later he is asking for cookies, crackers etc.

We have been leaving his dinner on the table and when he asks for a cookie, tell him that he can finish his dinner if he's hungry. Still, that doesn't really solve the problem. We want him to eat at dinner time, not when he decides that he's ready. He also uses this as an excuse to delay bedtime. When it's time for his bath he starts in on the "I want to finish my dinner" routine! And you hate to send them to bed hungry!

So, what is reasonable to expect at this age? (he's almost 3) And then how do you enforce it? We have told him that if he doesn't sit still he will be sent to his room etc. Nothing seems to work.

BTW, he sits in a Kinderzeat and can undo the buckles. I'm tempted sometimes to buckle him back into a highchair!!


01-08-2005, 12:52 PM
We had/have this problem with DS, however, he's been much better since we enforce the "you sit until YOUR done eating" (not until we're done eating. I think it's easier if you sart with breakfast/lunch/snacks and move your way to dinner because it's a little easier to have them miss most of a meal when they're going to eat again in a couple hours. In fact, we started by just insisting he sit if he wants to eat (he would stand next to his chair and take a bite). Now, he sits pretty much until he's done at dinner and then goes and play. And, to my surprise, it took a remarkably short time once we developed a plan and were consistent (maybe a couple of weeks).


01-10-2005, 09:52 PM
We've always required Noelle to sit at the table until WE are done eating. She doesn't have to finish her dinner, but she must sit politely with the family until dinner is finished. If she acts up to the point where it is interupting our dinner she gets sent to her room (time-out) until she can calm down and rejoin us.

As for the food if she doesn't eat it she doesn't get anything else that evening (including milk) and her dinner gets stuck into the refrigerator to be reheated for breakfast. Obviously I don't do this if she does eat, but doesn't clean her plate. I also don't force her to eat stuff that she truly doesn't like (she gets whatever we are eating). Once we were consistent with this for a week she got used to the idea. Every once in awhile she will turn her nose up at her food and we will remind her, "if you don't eat dinner you don't get any snacks or milk" and she usually will calm down and eat.

I felt bad about sending her to bed without food until I saw the results - someone who is fun to have at the dinner table! Now we can work on manners instead of fighting about food.

By the way, this didn't start working until my husband and I hashed out our own differences about how we wanted to handle it and were both consistent in our approach.

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to a wonderful preschooler,
who just turned three, Noelle!