Even children at the “high chair age” can be taught to show RESPECT.


Yes, Respect…

Communicating their needs with respect. Eating with manners  – by not throwing food, continually dropping their sippy cup onto the floor over and over, watching you pick it up  time and time again, without realizing that YOU have  allowed HIM to train YOU.

Wait? Who’s in charge here? That’s what you have to keep reminding yourself.  I AM THE ONE IN CHARGE.

Let’s say that you have a child this age who is OUT OF CONTROL.  He drops crumbs all over the floor, turns his cup upside down, spilling all over the tray and floor.. just because, he smears food on the tray, and drops things over the edge continually.   Overall, he just makes a mess… because he’s been ALLOWED to.  He grunts, cries, screams, and whines and uses whatever other means he deems to his advantage to get his way.. to control you.   The crazy thing is, oftentimes we just react -meaning that his ridiculous behavior worked.  (and not JUST in the high chair stages of life, I might add… from my own experience, you understand)

Something that has helped me immensely in parenting is to remind myself to TRAIN TO THE HEART.

My GOAL isn’t to make my child eat neatly so that I look like a good parent or so that my kid gets compliments on his fine eating habits. Rather, my goal is to teach him to be RESPECTFUL.. to respect the things and the people around him.

Here’s an example of how this whole RESPECT thing works…

  • Respectful of the property which is the high chair – not destroying it or making a mess. I want him to learn HOW to take care of things. Your child can actually eat off a plate and begin to use a small spoon or fork at a younger age than most think.  If your child is still at the stage where you are spoonfeeding him, this is the time to teach manners as well.
  • Respectful of the property which is the CUP – (LOL. That sounds straight cray that I said “respect a cup” but that is what I mean.)  Don’t allow your child to throw it or bang it on the high chair. Tell your child gently yet firmly, “No. Do not throw the cup.”  Remove the cup when he disobeys.  “When you can treat this cup nicely, you can have it back.”  A few minutes later, give another attempt. Repeat, if necessary. Make sure YOU WIN… and make it your goal to be consistent.. and to WIN!!  But, please REFRAIN from jumping up and down and saying, “I WON. I WON. I WON.” This is your secret race. Go in the other room and dance around with the older siblings or your husband and  do the Victory Dance in private.
  • Respectful in how needs are shared, requests are made: No more grunts, temper tantrums, whining, or melt-downs over the color cup given. TAKE CHARGE. Consistently give direction and don’t give him his requests unless he asks in the way YOU HAVE ROLE-PLAYED with him, and TRAINED AHEAD OF TIME.   You’re teaching your child to communicate with respect!!  You can even check out a book on BABY SIGN LANGUAGE to teach some basics before he is speaking.. like motions for please, more, all done, thank you, mommy, daddy.   This was helpful for us.
  • Respectful to the parent – not demanding of my time, not controlling me, not putting more work on me to clean up after his self-centered ways, but to respect me as a caregiver, a mom, and to be respectful of my time too. Allowing our kids to grunt to let us know they want more juice is disrespectful. But, we must ask ourselves, “Have I allowed this?” and then the next question for you and I is, “What will I do to be intentional about teaching my child to communicate with respect?”  Leaving a big mess on and under the high chair is truly NOT necessary. Seriously. Come on!! You can do it. If you take one week to eat meals together and concentrate on high chair behavior, manners, respecting property and people.. and are consistent.. YOU WILL SEE A HUGE improvement. (I call one week of specific attention to parental training “Boot Camp,” and it actually happened often over the years.)

You’ll even be able to go to a restaurant in which the waitress will be respected and therefore not have any mess to clean up after your family leaves.. AND,  the others dining in the restaurant won’t regret sitting near your family because your child has learned this lesson deep in his heart – making decisions about behavior based on RESPECTING people and property!!

Get out of town!

Are you fo’ realz? Can this really happen with your child?


Rhonda girrllllll, you’llLOVEtheimprovedDININGexperiencewhenyoufocusonRESPECT ellis

  1. Jillian McMullen

    pinning this so I don’t lose it & sharing on FB!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Jillian, Thanks for sharing with your Facebook friends. What does “pinning” mean and how do we do that? Good to hear from you!

  2. Heather

    Any ideas on verses to teach kids about RESPECT, especially respect for toys, things, etc? It’s gotta be simple. He’s 2! I’m starting to make a rules chart that says a simple rule and a scripture about why that’s a rule. Throwing toys is a big big struggle right now!

    • Rhonda

      Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

      Verses on fruits of the spirit are good ones, too, as the problem is US and THE WAY in which WE are behaving and treating things. So, verses on gentleness and love and kindness can apply to OUR behavior in how we treat things (or people) and also verses, like ones with self-control, have to do with US and what we need in order to not have temper tantrums and be demanding of OUR way.

      Bottom line is this when “parenting to the heart”… KEEP looking beneath the actual external evidence of the sin to the ROOT of the sin. Example: your child yells and demands his way. “Stop it” may be want we want to say and may stop the actual behavior (for a time, that is… maybe), but look to WHY he is doing that and any patterns of WHEN he behaves this way… look for the ROOT cause. So, your parenting will be based on the heart/the root … which in this case is most likely SELF-CENTEREDNESS or lack of SELF-CONTROL.. or ANGER issues – which actually means he lacks self-control and has been allowed to display this in ways like screaming, meltdowns, etc. All of these are selfishness. That’s what you deal with .. the self-control (how to handle the situation respectfully NEXT time he’s in a similar situation) – ROLE PLAY this with him.. and also the self-centeredness needs to be dealt with. He’s all about himself- and needs to have respect for others, etc.

      I know I am not actually talking about your child’s specific situation but I hope this example helps no matter what the actual “sin nature” is and what the “root” cause is. Train to the heart. The external WILL change, but remember

      Man looks at the outward appearance, but GOD looks at the heart.

      Also – there are a LOT of verses in Proverbs about FOOLISHNESS, CHeck those out for some great lessons and role-playing to lay a solid foundation of wisdom for your family. 🙂

      • Rhonda

        uh.. sorry.. that was like a blog post.
        way too long.
        I’ll get better at this. 🙂

  3. I admire you so much and only wish I had known you when Gretchen was in a high chair! It’s never too late to start training to the heart and that’s why I started homeschooling!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Kate, YAY!! Glad you’re training to the heart now!! It applies to kids at alllllll ages (even us as adults), so keep training to Gretchen’s heart too. This will help her in being wise and learning to apply biblical principles to situations in her life.. without thinking of a list of do’s and don’t’s. Love you,, Gretchen.

  4. Jennifer holland

    Amen Sista! And They say “kids don’t come with a manual”! Actually…..they do! Lol. Thank you for this post. We do not have high chair issues….but definitely going to apply this more to “clean up clean up time to clean up”. Sometimes there is some grunting. =). Thanks again!

  5. Mel

    Thank you SO much for sharing! This certainly applies to me in regards to teaching. My kiddos are not to behave accordingly in the hallway so that I’ll look good or so that I’m not embarrassed. Instead, I’ve learned to teach them to be still and quiet in the hallways because it’s respectful to the surrounding classrooms and doesn’t disrupt their environments.

    Thank you for reminding us to teach respect out of pure motives always.

    • Rhonda

      Mel, YOU are ONE fabulous teacher. What a blessing for your students to have YOU – a teacher who invests into their hearts and lives and shows such love!
      ANd one more thing.. Mama Like!!! (thanks for teaching me that phrase.)

  6. jre

    Good reminder to be intentional as a dad and take videos so that our children remember our voices when we are no longer living…..

    • Rhonda

      excellent idea. Check out the blog post tomorrow. This is another great way for the dad to be involved and record his voice and interaction with the kids. Thank you for your comment!!

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