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The Dinner Dance

by bkhoury on July 27, 2011

My 1 ½ year old has recently discovered FREEDOM when sitting down to eat a meal. He has started climbing down from his chair, taking a bite of food, doing a dance, and climbing back up into his chair making sure he somehow rubs his hands or face all over my clothes before beginning the process again. 

We kept Will contained for as long as possible at Hunter’s age.  We would try to “strap him in” the booster chair, so getting up didn’t even enter the equation.  But there is no way we are able to contain Hunter with Will across the table exerting his older brotherly charm.  Not without a monumental fit of writhing around, like putting a snake in a bag. 

The solution has become to lead by example.  In other words, Will must lead by example.  I have implemented a rule that if he gets up from his chair, that signals he is done and his plate will be cleared. I do have aspirations of Will politely asking, “Mommy may I be excused please?” but if I’m truthful, we are nowhere this nirvana.  Nevertheless, I can see how taxing it is on the three year old’s fragile will-power to remain firmly in his chair while Hunter performs his routine, enticing Will to chase him around the island. 

Sometimes I feel bad for Will who is clearly bearing the brunt of the discipline in this situation, but I guess that’s what being the oldest is all about?  And he is old enough that he needs to start remaining seated as well. 

I definitely feel I’m operating beyond my mommy certification here.  Does anyone have any solutions before we cross the fine line into dinner chaos theory? 

  • I have the same problem and not sure what to do either! Maybe its just consistency??

    By Anna on July 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM
  • I’ll check back for tips from others. grin

    By Betty on July 28, 2011 at 11:55 AM
  • Is your youngest too young for a short time-out?

    By Cynthia on July 28, 2011 at 11:57 AM
  • My suggestion is to try ignoring it all.  Sit down and eat and maybe even a cocktail smile  Ignorance is bliss!  Just kidding….

    By Kathy on July 28, 2011 at 12:05 PM
  • That’s a hard one.  I think you need to show your oldest that his younger brother can’t get away with not following the rules too…How? not sure…

    By Julie on July 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM
  • Lots and lots of positive reinforcement. Lay it on thick when Will is staying in his seat and Hunter just might surprise you!

    By Jen on July 28, 2011 at 01:16 PM
  • For dinner…
    I alternate between using the buckle in the booster seat and taking the plate for my almost 2 year old.  I do make the older 2 stay in their seat while they are eating and we do the please may I be excused when daddy is home (which isn’t often) but they are starting to do it more often than that.  I also sit with them at dinner and eat.

    Breakfast and lunch are a little less formal but they are still expected to stay in their seat.

    And I think that it is good when older siblings lead by example.  Good and bad behavior rub off on siblings.

    By skv1113 on July 28, 2011 at 02:42 PM
  • Are toys allowed at the dinner table? Perhaps even a book at the time might keep his attention during mealtime?

    By Amrit Bhavinani on July 28, 2011 at 02:47 PM
  • Having same issue at our house! My 2 yr old wants to get up and down multiple times, which sends my 3 yr old (both wild and crazy boys) into silly, run around mode as well. Having them both be very hungry and ready to eat helps keep them in their places. I’m going to try to stick with the “if you get up, that means you are done” theory (after a couple warnings) and applying it to both.

    By Claycrew on July 28, 2011 at 02:47 PM
  • I think this is just par for the course with these ages. Sorry to tell ya! Ha Ha! I keep telling myself that consistency is the key. If it helps, I wrote a blog called, “I Hate Dinner,” for precisely the same reason. :o) As the oldest who had to set the example and never saw any one child actually follow my example, I would tend to focus on both of them sitting and staying throughout the meal. That’s what I write, as the one who says, “Chloe SIT down,” 800 times per meal. So, I guess we can both just try to be consistent, not let them get away with it, and have a glass of wine ALONE after they go to bed! Whew!
    What time you coming over? I’ll uncork the bottle.

    By Emily on July 28, 2011 at 04:11 PM
  • I asked Lauren (age 8). She recommended Velcro pants.  Our next business venture?

    By Jen on July 28, 2011 at 04:24 PM
  • This does look promising. I’ll keep ciomng back for more.

    By Mauve on August 3, 2011 at 07:56 PM
  • Thanks to everyone for your helpful comments!  Congrats to Claycrew who is the lucky winner of the grill pan!  We hope you enjoy!

    By bkhoury on August 4, 2011 at 04:52 PM
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