It’s a lot to ask of a small child (or my older children) to sit at the dinner table for the duration of an entire meal. They have to listen to the older folks blah, blah, blah. They have to endure smelling the Brussels sprouts. And there are so many other things they’d rather be doing. It’s almost painful to have to sit there. Yet sit at the table, they must. It’s important. It’s good manners and it’s what will lead to improved grades, better health and less risk of becoming drug addicts, for heaven’s sake!
I have witnessed firsthand how a simple thing like a placemat can get kids to come to and stay at the table. A company called Tot Talk has created colorful placemats with topics like geography, natural habitats, math, kids games, sports, regional music and more, many with words shown in multiple languages. The back side is in black and white to encourage drawing with dry erase markers (just not during meal time, of course). The Tot Talk mission is to, “broaden the understanding and knowledge of today’s youth through multiple languages, new places, different cultures and everyday subjects.”
The basic idea, of course, is to give kids something to look at, do and talk about while they are at the table. I gave a couple of the placemats to my sister-in-law who has had some issues getting her four-year-old son to join the family and remain at the table. The boy was enthralled. He came, he ate, he stayed longer than necessary.
I did wonder if the distraction of it all would make a child forget about their food, or worse yet, lift up their plate to better see their placemat, thereby dumping said food all over the table. I’m sure it happens sometimes. But that’s the risk we take to share in the bounty of our meals with our beloved children.
Tot Talk placemats retail for $7.