Mealtime Discipline for Kids – Part 2
Posted on: September 27, 2019.

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Training not to burp at the meal table.Kids find it hilarious to burp at the table, and like doing it, as it is completely inappropriate and usually gets a lot of positive attention from peer and negative attention from parents. Says Dr. Harlow, “Kids love behaviors that get a big reaction.” Therefore, the best way for parents to go about discouraging kids from burping is to completely ignore it and keep talking over it, like say, about the weather, workplace woes, or any topics that kids find boring.

Another tip that Dr. Harlow shares in dealing with a burping kid who draws awkward giggles from other kids, is to exclude him/her from group meals and made to eat alone. Dr. Carter suggest a little peer pressure to cure a habit of children burping, quoting of his eight-year-old daughter for whom burping lost a lot of its cool after Dr. Carter told her how one of her boy cousins who was the same age as her, drew a remark of being gross and childish after he burped before their three teenage cousins whom Dr. Carter knew her daughter idolized.

A fork and spoon for mealtime etiquette. It can be quite frustrating for a nine- or ten-year-old to master the use of a fork and spoon to eat his/her food, which is quite a challenge for someone both young and hungry. A major reason for loss of etiquette is the distraction provided by technology. Excessive indulgence in electronic gaming retards the player’s fine motor skills which is essential to exercise eye-hand-brain co-ordination required to master the use of forks, knives, and spoons. Furthermore, they leave no time for children to indulge in eye-hand-brain co-ordination activities like cutting out snowflakes or molding with Play-Doh which help form strong fine motor skills in children.

Be flexible enough to let the child choose the utensil of his/her choice. If a child wants to ditch the toddler fork for need of a bigger fork, or continue using the spoon for want of more time to learn how to use a fork, so be it. Also, you can inspire your child to learn the appropriate use of utensils, by setting an example by displaying your proficiency in manipulating forks, knives, and spoons. Parents can help the younger generation bridge the gap between using fingers and utensils, by implementing fun little plastic appetizer forks from a party store or even a fast-food “spork”, a hybrid spoon-fork. If your child doesn’t like different foods coming into contact with each other, it would be of especially good help to set out two forks or two spoons.

Comfortable seating. “When a child’s feet are dangling and his posture is off, it’s harder for him to use his hands and to sit long enough,” says Levy. To help support the child’s whole body better, put a step stool underneath his feet or a pillow behind his back. “Ideally, he should be sitting upright with both his hips and his knees at a 90-degree angle”, notes Levy. Children can sit for only as long as they can. “Abilities will vary, but a 3-year-old can probably last for seven to ten minutes”, says Dr. Harlow.

Playing less and eating more. Dr. Carter notes that when a child is blowing bubbles into milk or piling all her food together into a disgusting mix, he or she could be bored, full, not really interested in the night’s menu, or just plain distracted. For kids to have a little fun at the table when it’s appropriate—which also helps encourage more adventurous eating—you must create positive feelings about food. Yet, if the antics don’t stop, just remark “It looks like you’re done eating”, and take away the misused food or drink.

Engage children with a conversation they’ll be more interested in, lest we don’t blame it on boredom. You can at least finish your meal in peace, if you smoothly have children leave the table when they’re clearly done eating.

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