This is a common dilemma: What to do when kids finish eating their meal, but others in the family are still eating?
Firstly, it’s important to note that it can be pretty boring for a young child to stay seated at the table once they have finished eating.
Here is what you can do to help your child:
- Make sure the meal is pleasant.
- Keep control of between-meal eating so the child comes to the meal hungry but not famished.
- Follow the division of responsibility in feeding. You do the what, when, and where, and our child does the how much and whether.
- Discuss topics that are of interest to everyone, and teach your child to participate in the conversation.
- Avoid pressure on your child to eat any particular food or any particular amount of food. No bribes or distractions!
- Be considerate without catering with meal planning so each child can find something at the meal that they (usually) enjoy eating.
Trust your child’s appetite
Then trust that your child has had enough to eat, and let her leave the meal when she indicates she is done. Even when you make meals pleasant, hungry children can get enough to eat in 10 or 15 minutes—or even less. After that, they have a tendency to create such a commotion that it spoils the meal for other family members. Be clear (in word and deed) that there will be no more food until snack time. Teach the child to play quietly—nearby for a young child—another room is okay for older kids.
No screens. TV, iPhones, and notebooks
Electronic media are attractive enough to lure a still-hungry child away from the table before s/he has had enough to eat. These rules are particularly important when there are siblings. Get out a book, some art supplies, or quiet toys for after-meal activity, so your child can settle right down, rather than hanging around and disrupting the meal for others.