Thursday, March 01, 2007


Suggestions for a parent in great pain about giving child time-outs and removing food when it goes on the floor at scheduled mealtimes...

This might sound crazy, but here are some ideas aimed at removing the stress from the situation without hurting your child and yourself... maybe one or two will be useful. They are offered in deep sympathy for your pain and your child's.

Spread a big rug on the floor and have a carpet picnic
Sit on the floor next to a child sized table

Lose the idea that everyone has to eat the same food at the same time.

If being with you and husband while you eat is interesting, child will do it without having to be frightened into sitting at the table with you. If not, then it'll be interesting in a week, 6 months, a year. Relax. Spread more tablecloths on the floor :-)

Give child food as background while they do something else - nothing like having a crayon in one hand and a sausage in the other, and somehow the sausage all disappears.

Find lots of really interesting things to throw off the table. You can get 100 plastic balls from Argos for less than £10. Now THAT'S fun. Parents could attempt to throw the balls in a tricky target on the other side of the room. Child is going to prefer to throw coloured balls than pasta, let's face it.

Remember: child is almost certainly not throwing food because they hate your food, they hate you, they intend to be uncivilised, or they are not hungry. THey are throwing the food because they are exploring the universe around them and they want to find out about different textures, things which go flump and things which go splot. Encourage it in ways which don't annoy you - lots of play dough. Lots of finger food. A tablecloth under the chair so thrown food can just get recirculated. Lots of making "soup" out of flour and eggs and food colouring. Make sure child wears machine washable clothes.

You can turn this round to a joyful thing in 5 minutes flat by working WITH your child to help them learn about the world through experiment and play, and incidentally gradually moving towards formal mealtimes as they grow older. If anyone asks what on EARTH you are doing, tell them your child is going to be a genius scientist. :-)

What do you think? I'm hoping it communicates with someone who has never ocnsidered parenting playfully before.

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