visual rules

Meals with kids are not always enjoyable... at least not in our family. Still- it is very important for me that we enjoy meals together. It is a time of day to be all together and tell eachother what we did during the day, what bothers us, what we are looking forward etc. 
Since the kids eat breakfast and lunch in the daycare this one meal in the evening is even more important to me. 
But for some time now we were struggeling to have an enjoyable dinnertime. My oldest has a hard time sitting still and since I can remember she has a hard time using fork, spoon and knive instead of her hands. They all want to talk at the same time and sometimes start to fight.

Last week I made a small poster where the basic rules are visually stated. The icons are not mine- I just took them from the internet. I could have drawn something myself but had no time and I was so fed up with dinnertime that I urgently wanted to try this visual way of stating the rules instead of always repeating myself in telling them what to do and what not.

And- it worked!!!!
I fixed the rules on the wall beside the table. Before we ate, I went with the kids over the rules and asked them to try to stick to them. Here and there I silently pointed to the rules during the meal.
It works nicely since them. Not always perfect, but MUCH better and they even remind themselfs by checking out the rules (Like- "oops, I still need to clear my things from the table...")

What do you do to have a pleasent meal? Any other tricks?

Translation of the rules on the poster: 

  • wash your hands (before and after the meal)
  • use cutlery
  • don't shout
  • wait your turn (for talking)
  • be nice (say thanks and please and don't fight)
  • clear the table 


Anonymous said…
This is a lovely idea -- I am wondering, does it work even with your youngest child? My younger daughter is only two years old and the hardest thing for us is getting her to stay in her chair and not climb ONTO the table. It is getting truly tiresome, especially when she sits right in her food :-( . Often we cannot get her to stay at the table even for one minute -- she may take one bite and then start climbing, or running off.

Most of our rules would be the same as yours but I guess for my family I would qualify "use cutlery" as I am (ethnically) Indian and we do eat with our hands sometimes, if we are eating Indian food, so I am wary of teaching them that using their fingers is rude. But I do wonder if making a poster would be effective for my two-year-old....

-- Preeta
rahel said…
Thanks a lot for your comment! My youngest is 2.5 years old. I tedn to be less strict with him. Climbing onto the table would indeed be out of questions, but he does not have to wait too long at the table after he is finished with eating. From the bigger ones I request that they wait until at least all kids are finished with eating.
I am not sure how much my youngest one is influenced by the poster. Maybe it's more the bigger siblings. But one can always try. If the climbing onto the table is the biggest issue maybe you can start with this one and use a picture of a kid that sits nicely on his chair.

We have exeptions when it is okay to eat with the fingers. The kids usually know quite good what is okay and what not.
I love this, well done.
Anonymous said…
You know, I am going to try to put up a picture of a child sitting nicely in his/her chair -- I think that's a great idea, as she loves pictures, and I might even choose one from a book that she already knows and loves. If nothing else, it will at least trick her into sitting at the table for a few minutes while she talks about the picture ;-) .

-- Preeta

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