I would like to publicly thank Lara, who commented on my post back in March about Extreme Consequences. Girlfriend, your idea transformed how I now approach breaking bad habits with my kids!!!
When venting about my frustrations that the kids take an eternity to finish meals and goof around the whole time, Lara had a great suggestion:
"Not sure how you feel about Love and Logic, but this is one of their common examples. Say "dinner is served until 6:00. You're welcome to stay at the table as long as you aren't goofing around." no nagging to finish food....when 6pm comes, just take away the plates without a word and announce the meal if over. If they goof around say "what a bummer. Mealtime is for eating. You may go sit in your room and come back when you are ready to eat.". Let them go away once and come back, and if they do it again, take their plate away and say "looks like you've made the choice that dinner is over for you. You'll need to stay in your room by yourself until the rest of us have finished eating. ". A least, this is how it works in theory..."
I've never read "Love and Logic," though I've heard great things about it. That night at dinner, I explained that the big kids would each get one warning to not be silly at the table. I'd establish when the meal was over (usually 30 minutes) and if anyone decided not to focus on eating after their warning (normal family conversations don't count toward the warning, intentionally making others giggle does), then dinner was over for them.
The first few meals were lovely. We talked about our day, the kids ate their food, it was heaven. Then one morning, Ryan couldn't stop being silly and he was asked to leave the table. He'd eaten two eggs and a smoothie, but on any given day, he'll also eat toast or cereal, too. (He's growing like a weed)
Ryan was shocked that I followed through. With a trembling lower lip, he said, "B...but I'm still hungry!!!" I reminded him of the new rule, my warning and the consequence and asked him to leave the table one final time. I explained that he could have a snack with the rest of us at 9:00. He ran up to his room and cried.
And it hasn't happened again since.
My newest issue is with Jason. He wants to sit at the table like a big boy during lunch, but doesn't respect the fact that I want him to SIT while he eats. He stands up in his chair, hops down and runs around, grabs his sandwich and eats in the family room...nothing could get him to consistently sit and STAY at the table.
Then it struck me: if he doesn't stay seated, he needs to sit back in his high chair. DUH!!! This just occurred to me this weekend, so he's still pushing the boundaries a little bit, but he's definitely getting the message.
This has also worked well with training him to stay in Ryan's bunk bed. He can sleep in a big boy bed IF he stays in the bed until I come get him, just like the crib. If he gets out before he falls asleep, he is put into the crib. If he gets out upon waking up, the next nap/bedtime is spent in his crib. I'm so glad we haven't taken that crib down yet because it's working beautifully!