Issues with how sitting at dinner table - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Issues with how sitting at dinner table

LOATer profile image
12 Replies

My 6 year old with ADHD often sits at the dinner table with her knees up in front of her on the chair. It drives my husband nuts and he often scolds her for it and yells at her and says to sit the right way or else she can’t eat. True sometimes this results in more crumbs on floor since she is not really eating over the table. I’m just happy she’s sitting and not getting up and down. I’m struggling with how important it is to sit “right” at the table. Is it terrible to let her do that or is that enforcing bad manners? I tried pushing her chair in to get her closer to table but she sometimes whines when I do and doesn’t want to do that. Not sure if she does this at school (probably not since chairs are not as deep but I don’t know) and we don’t go out to eat much but I haven’t noticed her going it when we are out. Should I confront my husband and just let her sit and eat that way or be on my husband’s side scolding her?

I just think she has trouble sitting still and comfortably and not trying to be a bad kid, but sometimes it’s hard to determine what to attribute to condition and what she actually can control and chooses not to.

Advice please!

12 Replies

My daughter is now nearly 13 and we DO eat together now - but that is a recent development. When she was little we stopped having family dinners. I get SO irritated and annoyed when I see article and article post after post about how important it is to have family dinners togethers. I think it is completely FALSE. My opinion (and no I am not a psychologist) is that it is important for parents and children to CONNECT and feel safe with one another. It is important for your child to grow up having a large file of happy secure memories. My WORST memories from my own childhood are from sitting at the table getting yelled at during dinner. The same thing starting happening in my own family. My ADHD child would be spinning around making a huge mess, husband would get mad and annoyed, I would be trying desperately to keep it all together and relieve the stress. Family dinner always ended with me in the bathroom crying. One day when my daughter was about 5 - I decided NO MORE. I made food and left it in the kitchen. People could eat whenever they wanted. I ate alone. My child could pick at food throughout the night. If needed I let her watch netflix through dinner. Was it my dream family dinner time? NO not at all. However, everyone ate, no one was angry, and there was peace in the home. In the late evenings we took long meandering walks together and that was bounding and connecting. I would read stories allowed while AHDH child spun on the floor. Everyone was happy and went to bed in peace. I think home life is very different for people who have ADHD children and I think it is OK to make our own rules and do what works for us!

Birdwatcher19 profile image

My 12-year-old daughter STILL does this! She doesn’t do it anywhere but at home, but she just has so much trouble sitting still. She also will stir or shake anything within reach (like a bottle of salad dressing). It drives me nuts (and I also have ADHD), but I do not scold her (she KNOWS she’s not supposed to be doing these things; it’s an impulse control issue). Instead, I will offer gentle reminders by way of putting my hand on her arm and pointing to the seat; taking the bottle she’s shaking and putting it on the other side of the table, etc. Obviously a 6-year-old’s impulse control is far more limited than a 12-year-old’s, with or without ADHD. I think your husband may need to adjust his expectations here, at least for dinners at home (eating out and at others’ homes is different). By all means, teach her the “correct” way to sit, but understand that you will need to offer constant reminders, and do so with patience, not anger, as scolding her will really undermine her self-esteem. And DO look for moments when she is sitting quietly to praise and reinforce that behavior, as this will help build self-esteem! If it’s really becoming a sticking point, maybe embrace Joyous Expectation’s strategy for dining. Good luck!

Onthemove1971 profile image

What about trying a more "stool" so she can't do that. Or a bounce ball?

It would be so nice to find a happy medium so there was less stress on everyone.

LOATer profile image
LOATer in reply to Onthemove1971

Thanks that’s a good thought. I’ll see what I can find.

ADHD_DAD profile image

I find that my wife and I have different pet peaves and different levels of tolerance for certain of my son's behavior. There are some things he does which make her nuts and they don't bother me at all. It is usually something related to his appearance, hair or clothing. It would be a mistake for me to criticize my wife in front of my son or privately for this. We are both doing the best we can to face the challenges that come with raising a child with ADHD and she does not need my criticism. I expect the same from her. So, if there is ever a situation where the question becomes should I "confront" my wife for correcting my son's behavior, in my opinion, the answer should always be "no." If as parents you are doing your part to help her be at her best by providing medication, advocating for accommodations at school, arranging counseling if necessary and modifying your lifestyle to make sure that she is functioning at her best (and that ADHD is not at the wheel) then she needs to learn to function appropriately although doing Sonos tremendously more difficult for her than for a child without ADHD. For your husband, it seems like sitting properly at the dinner table is important. For me, it's usually not interrupting adults. For you, perhaps it is something else. However, I have learned that unwanted intervention or criticism is more often a cause for anger in the parent than the child's behavior. I try to support my wife even when I don't agree with everything she does and I expect the same from her. Good luck to you.

ADHD_DAD profile image

Here's a quit tip that worked for us, though, in addition to my other response. My son had an issue with tipping back in chairs at the table. We replaced the chairs on his side of the table with a bench. Problem solved. Perhaps you can replace her chair with an exercise ball or something. Hard to imagine how she could put her knees up then. Maybe that will break the habit.

Yes, get your husband some anger management. 👍 this is -very- minor & is not even under her control. HER thing is chemical. What's his excuse.

Clue3 profile image
Clue3 in reply to

It might not be anger management. It could be a number of things. My dad hated how I sat at the table. He has ocd and it’s hard to explain but I also have ocd and certain “minor” things feel huge to me. I think it’s the same for my dad. It’s something that needs worked on but might not be anger management related.

I have adhd (and several anxiety disorders. So fun) and I still sit like this at the table. I’m in my 30’s. It’s how I feel comfortable

anirush profile image

I was always told by counsellors to pick your battles. What's important of to draw the line on and what's something you could let go. Is it worth it to make dinner time miserable for something that she will learn as she gets older? She's only 6.

For example some people get driven crazy by messy bedrooms. My girls bedrooms were always messy. It wasn't worth fighting over. Now 2 of the 3 are so OCD about how clean their houses are. Didn't ruin them for life

I think this is for sure an instance of pick your battles - and this is one to let go. My son sits on his legs at the dinner table at home. He's 10 and tall for his age, and so he's even bigger sitting on his legs - but he knows not to do it in public, or when we have company. It's just one of those things. I remind myself, "I way more important things to worry about", like his mental health, personal hygiene, etc.

MNmom99 profile image

Hi there I have a five-year-old son whose has ADHD as well sitting at the table used to be horrible for him I just don’t think many kids much less a child with adhd can sit perfectly For some children just being able to sit at all whether knees in front or not is a huge accomplishment I think as long as she’s not sitting where she can hurt herself it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, I think what’s gotten me through a lot of things is realizing it could always be worse, we give our son the choice to either stand or sit on the chair but he cannot stand or sit halfway on the chair because we don’t want him to get hurt maybe give her another option that is not just sitting on a chair? I like the idea someone said about the bench or a bouncy ball or even those wiggle seats my son also use that for a while but then got bored with it whatever you try next I hope works for you and your child take care and good luck.

happyADDitttude profile image

Hi, I agree that your husband shouldn't yell at your 6-year old for sitting 'wrong'. I don't know what is getting him quite so upset, but even children without ADHD sometimes do it. Changing her seating will help, and getting her to recognize she can't do it when guests are over, or when she is out, is important. She will most likely grow out of it, but if your husband keeps getting upset because of it, she, like all kids, will eventually start doing it just to get a rise out of him.(to get him mad) Hope it all works out, Mika!

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