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