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Dinner time behavior question

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    Dinner time behavior question

    Hello all, this is my first of several posts over the next few days. We need some help with our two little boys, ages 8 and 9 but emotionally more like 4, adopted from Ukraine at 2 and 3. This question involves behavior at the dinner table. They used to fit in with our whole family during dinner better, but this year they are in school three days a week and do school with me the other two days. We've seen a lot of behavior go way down. Anyway, at dinner with our family (older bio kids, dh, and me), the boys will act loud and silly, get out of their seats multiple times, and use fingers to eat most everything, not just finger foods. We've tried practicing at breakfast and lunch, reminding them before dinner of the rules, me taking them out of the room to remind them during dinner, just putting them to bed in the middle of dinner, and feeding them early, then to bed while the rest of us eat later. What we'd like is for our whole family to have a pleasant dinner together. We also usually finish dinner with what we call Family Time, where we read the Bible and pray together. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Lillian

    #2
    Re: Dinner time behavior question

    Hi, Lillian.

    When we encounter such issues, we try to address them outside of the frustrating situation. (No need to ask how we learned this!)

    You still have the children two days, so what if you created a Table Manners mini-course from manners books on those days? These books are straightforward, yet suitable for their "manners ages":

    -Manners Can Be Fun, Munro Leaf (author of The Story of Ferdinand)
    -Manners at the Table, Carrie Finn (she has others in the series)

    There may be others.


    Of course you will need to have a consequence for not following reasonable table rules. If they WANT to eat with the entire family, then you could set a standard of practicing good table manners at their own table during a separate time with supervision for a certain number of days, and then they can join the family table. If only one reaches this level, he can join the family. The other can join when his table manners improve.

    If they do NOT want to eat with the family, then I would not try this! Instead, serve everyone with clear, possibly posted standards. Seat them neither next to each other, nor facing each other. (Again, learned the hard way. Your boys are nearly like twins, so it can become similar to trying to raise two puppies at once. If allowed to do so, they will follow each other more than following the adult!) Once you have a good seating plan, try this: If anyone disregards your table rules, the person is excused from the table for the remainder of the meal. At Family Time, they would rejoin, preferably with an apology. Above all, you do not want them to miss the good, unifying, forgiving, comforting Family Time.


    I hope something here helps!

    Cheryl

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Dinner time behavior question

      Thank you, Cheryl, your replies are always so helpful, and comforting too! I just ordered the two books on Amazon. I'd like them to stay with us at the table. If they eat first and are still up, or we excuse them from the table, they will just disturb the rest of us greatly while we try to eat. Their teacher suggested giving an after dinner chore to someone who chooses to disobey the rules.

      What about eating with fingers? They used to use fork and spoon more. Is that sensory, behavior, age? No matter how much I remind them, they use fingers anyway. Also, we are working on an overall behavior and consequences chart for other things. More about that in another post. Thanks so much!

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Dinner time behavior question

        Originally posted by LillianinAl View Post
        Thank you, Cheryl, your replies are always so helpful, and comforting too! I just ordered the two books on Amazon. I'd like them to stay with us at the table. If they eat first and are still up, or we excuse them from the table, they will just disturb the rest of us greatly while we try to eat. Their teacher suggested giving an after dinner chore to someone who chooses to disobey the rules.

        What about eating with fingers? They used to use fork and spoon more. Is that sensory, behavior, age? No matter how much I remind them, they use fingers anyway. Also, we are working on an overall behavior and consequences chart for other things. More about that in another post. Thanks so much!

        If you feel strongly about having them at the table, rather than a training table, what if you "glued" them to you and your husband? Each parent would then be responsible for modeling proper behavior for one child and enforcing table manners as needed with that child. The level of "gluing" can relax as they are able to handle more responsibility for their manners.
        Jennifer
        Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

        2019-2020 Plans:

        DS16
        MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
        MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

        DS15
        As above, plus:
        MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
        MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

        DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

        DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

        DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

        DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

        DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Dinner time behavior question

          Thanks. Yes, one is already glued to me and one to Dad. We have tried!

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Dinner time behavior question

            Originally posted by LillianinAl View Post
            Thanks. Yes, one is already glued to me and one to Dad. We have tried!
            Trial and error...we know it well here!
            Jennifer
            Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

            2019-2020 Plans:

            DS16
            MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
            MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

            DS15
            As above, plus:
            MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
            MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

            DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

            DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

            DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

            DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

            DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Dinner time behavior question

              Originally posted by LillianinAl View Post

              What about eating with fingers? They used to use fork and spoon more. Is that sensory, behavior, age? No matter how much I remind them, they use fingers anyway.
              I'd love to hear about this too. It's something that's still a struggle for two of my older kids.
              Catherine

              2019-20
              DS16, 10th
              DS13, 7th
              DS11, 6th
              DD11, 6th
              DS7, 1st
              DD4, JrK
              DS 17 mos

              Homeschooling 4 with MP
              2 in classical school

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Dinner time behavior question

                Amen to this thread! My son will eat so ravishingly I'm not sure how he hasn't knocked teeth out with his spoon. He very rarely uses a fork and can't figure out how to use a knife. No matter how many times it happens, I'm still shocked at what must be implicitly taught to this child that others just...get. you know?

                Will be off to check out those books.

                Definitely looking forward to the Simply Classic manner supplement in the works. Yay
                Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

                DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
                DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
                DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Dinner time behavior question

                  Originally posted by Colomama View Post
                  Amen to this thread! My son will eat so ravishingly I'm not sure how he hasn't knocked teeth out with his spoon. He very rarely uses a fork and can't figure out how to use a knife. No matter how many times it happens, I'm still shocked at what must be implicitly taught to this child that others just...get. you know?

                  Will be off to check out those books.

                  Definitely looking forward to the Simply Classic manner supplement in the works. Yay
                  HAHAHA!
                  I think everyone in our house knows "take a bite, chew and swallow -- don't be a Gobbly Pest" after years and years (and years) of repetition. It still doesn't always stick, though. My oldest is the biggest offender. Ever since he was a little guy, he's "that kid" who will shove an entire doughnut in his mouth, barely be able to chew it because his cheeks are bulging out so far, and simultaneously reach for a second helping. Some foods are worse offenders than others -- pastries, French fries, chips, popcorn and anything noshy are the worst. And yes -- if he is eating something with a spoon that he particularly likes, he speed eats. All I hear is "click-clack, click-clack, click-clack" as his spoon hits his bowl and then his teeth. (It sounds horrifying.) I've trained him to take a bite, put his food down, chew, swallow, pick up his food and repeat. It took some serious work, but he's got pretty decent table manners now. Our biggest issue these days is eating over the plate, sitting close enough to the plate and sitting all the way on the seat.

                  1) Simply Classical Level B has Richard Scarry's "Please and Thank You". The progression of manners and habits in Level B was a big help for us. A stand alone digital plan can be purchased from the MP site for anyone interested.
                  2) Good manners and habits for ASD kids must be explicit instruction + Repetition, repetition, repetition. (Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.)
                  3) Once every week or two, have a "practice formal meal" in your dining room or a quiet, semi-formal restaurant. If at home, getting out of their normal eating environment will put them on strange footing and might make them a little more receptive to and aware of manners -- especially if you eat off your good dishes, for example. If you use the restaurant option, point out how other diners are behaving. Go over the rules before you leave the house (napkin in the lap, speaking softly). Put your kids in their "church clothes" in either situation to reinforce the message that this is a "special event" with import. Go at lunch time on a weekday so you won't bother anyone if all hell breaks loose despite your best efforts
                  Boy Wonder: 10, MP2/SC4 (Special Needs)
                  Joy Bubble: 8, MP2 (Special Needs)
                  Snuggly Cowboy: 6, MPK
                  Sweet Lightness: 2, Reverse-Engineering Specialist

                  “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
                  ~Pope St John Paul II

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Dinner time behavior question

                    Originally posted by LillianinAl View Post
                    the boys will act loud and silly, get out of their seats multiple times, and use fingers to eat most everything, not just finger foods.
                    Lillian,

                    After reading your responses, it seems that you & your husband have already implemented super-parenting attempts to control this. Have the boys been evaluated for issues with impulse control? At 8 and 9, when other children are beginning to assume self-regulation, sometimes these issues can become more pronounced by contrast.

                    Also, it may be necessary to break down the steps even more intentionally. Rather than engage in family conversation, as you would prefer, you might need to create overly explicit step-by-step prompts from start to finish:

                    "Come to the table, place your hands in your lap. Very good."
                    "Keep your hands in your lap. We will now pray."
                    "With your right hand only, pick up your fork."
                    "Keep your left hand in your lap. Yes, that is correct, Boy 1. Very nice."

                    As you see him reach for his glass ...
                    "Wipe your hands before you reach for your drinking glass." (to avoid food smudges)
                    "Yes, very good. Place your left hand back in your lap. Pick up your fork again with your right hand. Nicely done, Boy 2. You're learning!"
                    etc.

                    We do this even today. At the table, spoken words include, "Keep your lips together. Yes, that's it. Thank you." "Slow down. Remember to chew carefully." "Let's help you re-fasten your apron." (My daughter has hand tremors, so she wears a washable apron for meals.) Not scintillating topics of discussion, but all necessary. For us, family conversations are sometimes best accomplished elsewhere, such as in the car or in the family room after dinner! This will bear fruit. Just yesterday, my daughter had her first solo radio interview, followed by lunch with a very gentle, mannerly couple. With nearly impeccable manners, both of my children navigated not only basic table manners, but also the conversation.


                    I really like the idea of practicing with a view to dining somewhere nice. You might conclude your homeschooling mini-course on manners with this. When mine were about your boys' ages, we followed a mini-course on table manners with lunch (we could not afford dinner!) at Wolfgang Puck's inside our art museum. Beforehand, we discussed the use of so many forks, the placement of the huge napkin, and the slow pace of eating. Everyone at the other tables ate, but so quietly! This made quite an impression: civility, self-control, courtesy to others. All part of growing up.


                    Back to the original point, however -- if physiological differences impact impulse control, the boys might benefit from some therapeutic or even medical treatment in this area, so such efforts can be more effective.


                    Clearly you touched on something many of us encounter, Lillian. Thank you for bringing this up! Over time, please share if you find anything that is especially helpful for your boys. We will all benefit.

                    Thanks-
                    Cheryl

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Dinner time behavior question

                      Hi Lillian,
                      I noticed you mentioned "older bio kids" in your original post and wanted to connect with you on that note. We too have older bio children and a younger adopted child who requires a great deal of our attention all the time. Our big kids (teens and older) have been honest about missing the days when we could be all ears and eyes on them for a meal. The fellowship over a meal is like nothing else, right? For older bio kids, I think there is something about having things "the way they were or would be if we had not adopted" once in awhile.

                      Our solution has been to take our older children out to dinner a couple times a year and leave our little one with a caregiver. When we can't afford a dinner out, we ask someone to take the little one and have a meal/evening in our home without him. It has meant a lot to our bio children to give them this uninterrupted time. Seems to fill their love banks far more than one would think a few hours should. And to be perfectly honest, the time has meant a great deal to us as parents too. Some of my sweetest memories of time with my bio children this last year were over the two meals when I could be 100% their mom again. It gives me time to sit back, take it all in, and notice things I just can't when focused on our little guy.

                      Lisa Qualls writes occasionally about family dynamics of older bio and time consuming younger adopted children. I think she is actually working on a book on the topic.

                      Blessings,
                      Kim
                      Wife to Rich - 27 years.
                      Step-Mom to DS age 33 years, 30 years. Mom to DD 26 years old and DS(s) 23 years, 22 years, 21 years, 17 years, 3 years.
                      Grandma to baby girl due June, 2016.
                      Began homeschooling in 1992. Graduated 6. Use a mixture of curriculum for DS (Senior year '16-'17). Use SC for 3 year old.

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