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  • flowerclaireflowerclaire Member Posts: 2
    I was wondering if you could give me some advice please.
    My son is 3 and has GDD. He refuses to sit still for family meals and his behaviour is rubbing off on his 2 year old sister. I do not want her to fall into the same habit as her big brother as she was doing so well up until recently.
    We are at our wits end with this issue and don't know what to do.
    Many thanks Claire
  • ParentingAdvisorParentingAdvisor Member Posts: 16
    Dear Claire,

    Even though your son has GDD, he is capable of learning to sit for the time it takes for him to eat until he's not hungry.  If he naturally has a small appetite and if he's very fidgety by nature, this might be only 10 minutes.  I have several recommendations. 
    1) Start by making sure that your son is hungry at mealtimes by not giving any snacks, including drinks, for about three hours before the meal. Toddlers can easily go three hours between meals without needing any food in between.   
    2) Make sure to sit with the children for every meal.  This will help him to be less distractible.   
    3) At the start of the meal, before he pops out of his chair, praise him for staying in his chair.  For example "You're sitting at the table, that's the right thing to do" or "You're eating".  This is called Descriptive Praise because what you are doing is describing the good behaviour without saying "That's wonderful" or "Fantastic".  This is important because children don't believe us when we say ordinary good behaviour is amazing or fabulous.  Children listen better when we describe what they are doing right.  Make sure you have a smile when you say it, and you have a smile in your voice.  This will show him, over time, that the way to get your attention is to stay seated for meals.  
    4)  Serve him a very small amount of food so that he's likely to finish it before he is distracted by something else.   When he finishes, tell him that he can get down. This way you are preempting him getting down without permission.
    5) Make a rule that as soon as a child gets up, his or her meal is over. Do not warn, threaten, plead or cajole.  Just be matter-of-fact.  The first few times you follow through and take his plate away as soon as he leaves the table, he may winge or even have a tantrum, so be prepared!  If you're willing to follow-through consistently, he'll get the message within a few days. 
    These strategies will usually result in calmer, easier, happier mealtimes.  If you follow these suggestions consistently for two weeks and find that you still have the problem, please contact me again.  There may be a more complex reason.

    All the best - Noel
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