FOR many little ones sitting at the table for mealtimes can be very difficult. Toddlers especially are so full of energy and are desperate to explore their world that sitting at the table for too long is boring.

The key to having a positive experience of family mealtimes is to consider the stage your child is at, as well as aspects such as the time of day and how tired and hungry they might be.

Some common mealtime problems are:

• Children might refuse to come to the table.

• Leaving the table without finishing their meal.

• Playing with or throwing their food.

• Eating very slowly or refusing to eat at all.

Having realistic expectations of your children is important after all who wants to sit and eat at the dining room table, when you can go and play with your toys or watch TV or use tablets or phones.

Key Steps

• Have a regular mealtime.

• Get everything ready before you call your little one to the table.

• Remind your child of the mealtime rules.

• Talk about rewards and consequences.

• Use praise and rewards for your child eating and behaving well.

• Use planned ignoring for minor problem behaviour.

• Act immediately if major misbehaviour occurs.

• Tell your child what to do.

• Use quiet time or time-out to back up your instruction.

• Return your child to the table.

• Talk about how the meal went.

Remember most mealtime problems are short lived. If you remain consistent with the rules, rewards and consequences your child will soon learn what is expected of them.


Next week: Screen time for under 2s