Ask the Disability Services Expert – Brandon Thomas

Ask the Disability Services Expert – Brandon Thomas

No More Mealtime Madness!

By Professor Matt Sanders

The idea of a family meal is often something parents dread. Kids get fidgety, throw food, fight with their

siblings or won’t eat what’s in front of them. But some of the best ways parents can help avoid stressful mealtimes start away from the dinner table.

Before a meal

Try and establish a set time and

routine for meals so children know

when to stop playing or turn off the TV and get ready. Don’t let your child snack within an hour of a scheduled mealtime and watch what they drink too. A big glass of milk or juice just before dinner can spoil an appetite.

Expect spills

Of course it’s important to have

realistic expectations about a family meal too. When little kids first eat at a table you should expect spills and messes. This isn’t misbehaviour, just a simple learning curve. Try to stay calm and look for opportunities to

praise your child.

Don’t negotiate

But some mealtime problems are directly related to the way a parent and child interact at a dinner table.

Children may refuse to eat because it gets them attention. This can become a problem if you are always bargaining and negotiating with your child about how much they can eat. It’s better to set appropriate consequences for such behaviour, stick to those consequences and praise your child when they eat an acceptable portion of what’s on their plate.

Professor Matt Sanders is founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program ®. To find out more about Triple P in Alberta go to