Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Not eating at the table - should I insist?

(32 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 14-Jun-11 18:45:51

(This is another Ask a gran question sent in by readers of the Radio Times.)

My one-year old will only eat if she’s sitting on the sofa, watching TV at the same time. I know it’s a bad habit, but have given in for an easy life. Is this ok, and will I be able to transfer her to normal mealtimes at the table when she’s a bit older?

mollie Tue 14-Jun-11 20:28:53

Who is mum here? Of course you should insist...and you should do it now. Turn the television off and make it clear that meals are eaten at the table and the television will go back on afterwards.

artygran Tue 14-Jun-11 20:42:25

I absolutely agree with Mollie. The family table is where children learn a lot of their good manners and social skills and you can't start too early. It'll be a battle royal until she gets the message, but she'll thank you for it in later life.

Notsogrand Tue 14-Jun-11 21:00:33

I've tried several times to respond constructively but can't get away from the fact that we are discussing a 1 year old being in charge. What's to discuss?

glassortwo Tue 14-Jun-11 21:10:03

Your Daughter is 1 yr old, there should be nothing to discuss.

Sit her in a high chair tucked in to the table and eat with her and let her see this is what is expected from her. If you let her win at 1 I dread to think what other battles you are going to have over her childhood.

Gally Tue 14-Jun-11 21:38:02

Absolutely agee with everyone - I can't even believe we are having this discussion!

nanafrancis Tue 14-Jun-11 21:55:58

They don't make parents like they used to, do they?

suehi Tue 14-Jun-11 22:03:18

This is a crazy. I would like to say something constructive but this is just wrong,wrong,wrong. If this child can do what it wants at one what happens at 5,10,15!! Get a grip,be the parent and make some rules.

helshea Tue 14-Jun-11 22:37:56

I agree that a one year old doesnt actually decide where they eat, they get put in a high chair and that's that. However, lot's of children these days are brought up without even having a table, lot's of families do not have a dining room, and have to eat from their laps... however they still grow up to be quite capable of eating in restaurants etc..

harrigran Tue 14-Jun-11 23:18:59

You are the adult, a one year old does not dictate it's own mealtimes. You are creating years of mealtime battles for the sake of a few minutes of peace and quiet.

janthea Wed 15-Jun-11 10:23:31

There will be more problems later if this isn't sorted out now. Meals are eaten at the table, not in front of the TV. The TV shouldn't be on during mealtimes. Sit with her at the table so she knows what is expected of her.

Joan Wed 15-Jun-11 10:41:10

Toddlers need boundaries, not choices. They are far too young to be making decisions for themselves.

I agree with what has been said before: turn the telly off, plonk her at the table in her high chair, give her food, and ignore any tantrums. If she does not eat, then take the food away and offer no other.

I once read that modern parents need to realise that as a parent they are in charge of what goes on in the child's life: they are not the child's entertainment director.

nannym Wed 15-Jun-11 13:58:19

Totally agree with the other comments. Mum sets the boundaries and does not wobble - especially not "For the sake of peace and quiet". Even at 1 year old the baby will realise what can be achieved with a little stubborness and soon there will be battles all the time if she gets her own way. If there is no dining table for her to sit at, at least turn the television off!

jackyann Wed 15-Jun-11 14:19:14

Whilst I agree with the grans here, I wonder why you have felt that you had to give in.
Parents who are stressed sometimes find that they don't have the energy to insist on every rule that they would like to. You may like to think - and discuss with the other parent, and others involved with your child - what you are going to insist on and enforce, and what you are going to "let go".
Better to have a few rules & strict boundaries than a lot of half-rules that aren't enforced and leave the child confused.
If this is one you want to enforce, you may need to look at what you are doing - are you sitting with the child at table, are others there? Is it a pleasant, social experience? Or are you sitting the child on her own, whilst you get on with something else? Do you have the time & energy to commit to a proper family mealtime?

expatmaggie Wed 15-Jun-11 19:09:20

What amazes me that everybody thinks it normal for a one year old to be watching TV. A doctor once told me that a two year old has so much brain work to do and so much to discover about the world- discover and digest - that they don't have time to watch TV.
I have 3 grandhcildren in two households and no child watched TV until at least 4 years old. There's more to life than facing a screen. Now I've got off the subject. Of course the little girl shoud eat at the table. That is what the table is for.

crimson Wed 15-Jun-11 22:02:52

I've always sat in front of the telly to eat meals [except at weekends when the S.O. stays and I eat at the table]. My children ate whatever they wanted and ate it wherever they wanted to. It's never been an issue with us. The important thing is for them to enjoy food and not look on it as some sort of battleground.

seasider Thu 16-Jun-11 00:55:06

My children and grandchildren have always eaten at a table. Where possible we ate together and it gave us a chance to really talk to each other . I knew when I took my children out to eat they would be a credit to me as they knew how to sit at the table and use cutlery etc. They always had the same food as us and were encouraged to try new things. There were times though when they did have "junk" food and they have all grown up with very varied tastes. The only downside is that my 7 year old grandson has very expensive tastes as his favourite foods are prawns and steak!

optimist Thu 16-Jun-11 08:40:49

I had to plough through all of those other comments before reaching this one. What rubbish! Why do you have to sit at a table to eat? Plenty of cultures dont. As stated many people dont have a table. As with so many things in life there is no right & wrong way. Only different ways. No rules, just choices.

Littlelegs Thu 16-Jun-11 08:59:51

I don't think that it is a question of where you eat at the table on on your lap. The t.v. is another question altogether OFF, OFF OFF.

Grandmacool Thu 16-Jun-11 09:59:59

Eating while TV is on is a no go in my house, we eat at the table as a family and my granddaughter loves it.

If she is not feeling well then I will make an exception and pamper her.

Cressida Thu 16-Jun-11 10:18:22

The problem here isn't the child - it's the mother. She has taught the child to eat on the settee in front of the TV. A one year old child eats where it's mother puts it. Unfortunately the child has now got used to the routine of having the TV on. We don't know where the mother eats or if there are other family members who sit round a table so it's possible that the child is eating alone.

If the mother wants to change the child's habit then now is the ideal time to do it. On a sunny day they could have a picnic in their garden (if they have one) or at a park so that the child gets the idea that you can eat anywhere.

absentgrana Thu 16-Jun-11 12:08:56

A problem with watching television – or any other distraction – while eating – is that you eat just to shovel in fuel rather than as a specific and enjoyable activity and so quickly learn to ignore the signals that say your tummy is full. That is one of the reasons why obesity is an increasing (pardon the pun) problem in western society. As for sitting at the table – there is likely to be less mess and better digestion than eating slumped in a comfy armchair or sofa.

Mossybanks Thu 16-Jun-11 14:09:22

I also agree with eveyone - and can't believe we are having this conversation.

AmberGold Thu 16-Jun-11 14:21:58

Sorry Optimist and Crimson but I agree with everyone else. Other cultures may not eat at table, but ours does and if you want your child to grow into a person who is confident in any (social) situation and can go anywhere, then they need to know what is acceptable and how to behave. In every culture there is a right way and a wrong way and children need to know that. Ok so sometimes there are not rules, but then there are not always choices either.

supergran10 Thu 16-Jun-11 14:29:11

My 2 year old grandson has decided to test me. He does not do it with his mother. After preparing a delicious lunch and offering him a spoonful he turned his head and said 'no'. Next spoonful he said 'no' then 'bikit'. I was amazed and surprised ( inwardly giggling because I thought this was rather amusing!) and thought my daughter possibly offered biscuits when he did this. She laughed and denied it when I told her.

In order to avoid turning lunch into a battle of wills and this was the obvious outcome if I had persevered, I calmly removed the bowl. I got him down from the high chair and we went upstairs for sleep time. When he woke up he gobbled his lunch, feeding himself and the incident has never happened again. If it does I will repeat the performance.

A one year old is very young and habits can easily be broken. Mum must always be in charge. Sadly a lot of Mums these days believe that if they give in to their child's wishes the child will love them more and be their friend. Tragically this is not true and every child needs boundaries and will continue to push until the adult makes the boundaries or gives in and the child will lose respect from then onwards.