Are you the one organizing the family Thanksgiving dinner this year? Or is it your turn to throw a New Year’s Eve party with friends? Either way, parents whose kids are a bit restless at the dinner table might be feeling a bit worried over keeping kids calm when guests arrive. Children are naturally energetic and dislike sitting still for long periods, especially if they’re bored. But nothing to worry about. Here are a few tips which will help you organize a flawless dinner with you restless sweethearts.
It is always a good idea to engage your little ones into preparations and make them feel helpful. So, let’s see how to go about it.
1. Quiet activities close to your table
This sounds like the first-aid kit. As a parent, you already know your child’s favorite sit down activities, i.e. drawing, coloring, sticker books, and so on. What we advise you to do, is to have a small quite activity sack close to your table, or hanged on one of the chairs. In case things get loud and restless, you always have a magical kit to entertain them with. (hint: emphasize the magical aspect—kids love the fantastical!).
2. Prepare prizes
Prizes always do a good job, don’t they? Having a handful of little prize trinkets can motivate kids to work on their restlessness and impatience at the table. If they work hard to manage throughout the dinner, they will be entitled to a special prize—positive reinforcement is always a better developmental choice than constant nagging and disciplining. Is there a theater play they want to see? Or a book they’re longing to add to their shelf? Well, this is a perfect time for them to earn it. Turn their dread of a long, unbearable dinner party into a challenging game, and reward them if they succeed!
3. Involve them throughout preperation
A child likes to feel useful and important to their parents. Let them help prepare the easier dishes you’re planning for the dinner. Give them a special spot in the kitchen in which to get cooking: hand over the sliced veggies for the salad and have your child mix them up in a bowl; have them help you set up the table and decide where each member of your family will be sitting; invite them to suggest ideas for decorating the table.
Then, when they are at the table, involve them by asking them to add something (napkin, salad, plate, bread). Let them feel of service! Once your dinner is finished, invite them to help you with tiding up the table. Talk to them about how you have prepared the dinner together, and let other members of your family listen and praise them. Once your dinner is finished, invite them to help you with tiding up the table.
4. Teach them a song
Yes, it’s that simple: giving your child a fun song or sketch to learn for the night of the dinner helps make them feel they are an essential part of the process. Teach them a song they could practice a few days before and let them have a grand performance before or after Thanksgiving dinner. Your child will feel proud of their accomplishment and gain skills in creativity, music, and performance all at once.
5. Prepare quiz questions
Another way to keep the kids busy at the table is to prepare some fun questions you’ll ask during dinner which will elicit laughter and conversation together as the children provide their answers. They’ll either have fun guessing or feel a sense of achievement for knowing the right answer. Here are a few question ideas:
- Which farm animal gives us milk to drink?
- Which animal purrs?
- Which day comes after Thursday?
- What do plants need the most to live?
- What rhymes with rat?
- What comes after number 4?
- What color is the sun?
- Where do whales live?
- Which animal has got the longest neck?
- What comes after winter?
You can also make them laugh by answering each question before them, but make sure you give wrong answers – they will love it!
Enjoy preparing your family dinners and let us know how your kids loved these ideas.