Teaching your child to eat properly with manners and to eat at a regular time each day is something that should be taught at a young age. Eating at regular times will help your child develop in the healthiest manner possible.
Understanding your child:
Mealtimes can be messy if you have not gone over how to eat properly at the dinner table. It is important to have realistic expectations about a family meal. When a toddler first begins to eat at the dining table, there are likely to be spills. This isn’t misbehaviour; your child is just learning and exploring his world. Try to stay calm and look for opportunities to praise your child.
Guidelines for encouraging children to eat at the table:
Be realistic. Because young children are easily distracted and find it hard to sit in one place for a long time, keep the main meal between 20 to 30 minutes.
Establish a routine. Try to serve three main meals— morning, afternoon and night. Explain to your child he will only be allowed food at these times.
Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods. He will develop preferences for some foods over others, just as adults do.
Keep in mind that it often takes 10 to15 times of trying before a child will start to accept new foods and like them.
Set rules. Decide on two or three easy rules for mealtimes; after a while your child will be able to remember your rules. Some possible rules are: sit at the table until you are excused; eat with your fork or spoon; finish your food before you speak so you don’t talk with your mouth full; no toys or games at the table.
Make sure you have everything ready on the table before you call your child to start the meal. Children can easily get restless and misbehave while they are hungry and waiting.
If your child misbehaves at the table, immediately tell him to stop and explain how he should be behaving.