Grandma – who’s your child’s caregiver while you’re at work – allows your two-year-old to run around and watch iPad during mealtimes. That’s why he can take up to an hour to finish his meals!
You want to improve his eating habits, yet that’s a tall order because your toddler’s now prone to tantrums.
And getting Grandma to change her mindset when it comes to his eating habits – without upsetting her – is going to take some work.
(Also read: Toddler takes too long to eat: What to do)
Set a positive tone for your conversation: Tell Grandma you’re very grateful for her support, and that you appreciate the effort she makes in caring for your toddler while you’re at work.
Then gently say you’re worried about your two-year-old’s behaviour at the dining table.
Explain your concerns clearly: You’re worried he takes so long to finish his meals and wanders off during mealtimes.
Tell her you’d prefer him to learn to sit at the table throughout the meal until he has finished it.
You’ll probably find she agrees with you on that. She might have allowed him to run around only because he makes a fuss when told not to.
Discuss this honestly with Grandma, so that you both have time to say what you feel.
You won’t be able to change anything until you work together, with a shared aim and strategy.
Once you have a shared mindset, you’re ready to work to improve your toddler’s behaviour.
(Also read: Are you overfeeding your baby?)
Next, draw up a plan of action that you’ll both follow consistently. Aim for gradual, rather than sudden, change.
For instance, you might agree that from now on, he has to stay at the table for at least 10 minutes before he’s allowed to leave.
Naturally, your two-year-old will test the resolve of whoever is looking after him at the time. But if he sees both of you sticking to the rules, regardless of his tantrums, he’ll eventually cooperate.
Each day before you leave him in Grandma’s care, remind her of your agreement.
Tell her how you kept him at the table for the agreed length of time the night before, and ask her to do the same today. When you come home after work, make a point of listening to how Grandma got on with him that day.
Sharing each other’s experiences and supporting each other will give you both the confidence to continue with your plan. And thank her for helping you!
As your toddler becomes more settled during mealtimes – and you’ll see progress within a few weeks – gradually extend the time he has to stay at the table. Keep each other updated on his progress.
You’ll find that working together with Grandma this way brings positive results sooner than expected. And she’ll be just as delighted with the improvements.