‘Embarrassing me in front of my friends… ‘

My daughter isn’t the best eater. To say the least. She’s fussy and she’s very slow. She has far less on her plate than her brothers, but it can take her four or five times longer to eat it – and she still doesn’t finish it. She also spends a lot of time getting up from the table, chatting, kneeling up on her chair and generally messing around. Looked at objectively, this is clearly bad behaviour. But we’re so used to it, that I don’t really see it any more. I’d like her to sit down and eat a proper amount of food, a balanced diet and eat it at normal speed, but I’ve kind of accepted that isn’t going to happen.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my kids seem to have a fair few friends who also come from families with three or even four kids. I know meal times at their houses are pretty noisy, chaotic affairs too. And, yes, kids do get down from the table and kneel up on their chairs.

My eldest had a friend round for tea the other day. He’s made a few new friends recently, which I’m really pleased about. They all seem to be very nice and it’s good that he’s found himself a little social group. This friend is particularly nice. He reminds me a lot of my son’s old best friend who moved away – he’s very polite and he chats to the family. I have nothing against friends who come round and don’t talk to me and the other two, but it’s really nice when a friend does talk to us all.

At the table, my daughter was doing her usual tricks. But she was also a little over-excited and probably slightly showing off because her brother had a friend round. She ended up standing on her chair during her tea (which I told her not to do). I asked my son’s friend if people do this in his family – mainly to point out to my daughter that the behaviour is unacceptable. Needless to say, they didn’t get up to that sort of behaviour at his house. He has one younger brother, who is older than my younger son, so the dynamic in their family must be very different.

After he’d gone home, I thought no more of the silly teatime bedtime. But then a couple of days later, my son started having a go at my daughter. Apparently his friend had told him he thought my daughter was badly behaved. My daughter doesn’t take well to any form of criticism. She hates to be thought of as badly behaved. And she really isn’t badly behaved at all – she’s impeccably behaved. But her eating has always been an issue. I didn’t want her upset, but it was quite nice for her (and me) to get a reality check. The behaviour at the table isn’t acceptable and she’s not a toddler any more.

But within seconds it wasn’t just an observation, it had become ’embarrassing me in front of my friends’. I really hope that my son’s friend hadn’t thought his sister was embarrassing or judged him badly for it. I’m sure he wouldn’t. But that’s how my son had decided to interpret it. It became another excuse to have a go at his sister. It’s amazing how many situations can be turned around by a teenager as an excuse to have a go at his sister.

I would like her to improve her behaviour and I’m hoping this might trigger something. But I’m not accepting it as being another excuse to have a go at her.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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19 Comments

  1. its a rite of passage to embarrass your sibling! No ideas on behaviour front except persevere, my son is v fussy eater and at 8 eats hardly anything that has food groups mixed together..

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    • We regularly seat 8-10 children down to eat dinner & I have table rules. No getting up, no kneeling, no shouting & good manners. The children are all fed the same meal & eat it within a time frame. I think if you start as you mean to go on & keep patient it helps a massive amount. Allowing poor behaviour sometimes is confusing – consistency is key

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      • That sounds very impressive! I should have been firmer with my kids from the start, but I let things go as they were fussy and my priority was for them to eat something.

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    • Thanks very much. It’s good to know I’m not the only one – my daughter is 8 too. My eldest is getting there slowly and he’s 13.

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  2. I think most brothers are embarrassed of their sisters for one reason or another at times – it’s a completely normal reaction from his point of view. Children feel the need to fit in and I think his sister’s behaviour being seen as out of the ordinary by his friend is bound to make him feel embarrassed. To be fair, it is very out of the ordinary behaviour! It sounds like you have a lot on your plate on that front (no pun intended) but it is something that you should probably get to grips with not because your son finds it embarrassing but because it really isn’t acceptable to carry on like that at her age. Good luck!

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    • You’re very right! It was a useful wake up call to me that the behaviour isn’t normal. I know she wouldn’t act like this outside the house, which is good at least. But I will need to get her a bit more under control at home!

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  3. Everything and anything can be a source of embarrassment for a teenager! My lot can be a little unorthodox at dinner times – BUT behave impeccably when we eat out or at other peoples houses, even Syd is pretty good when we eat out these days. I bet your daughter eats nicely when you are out and if you cant relax at home where can you !?

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    • That’s very true! Pleased to hear you say that. I wouldn’t say my lot behave impeccably when they’re out, but they behave a lot better than where they’re at home! And if people visit us, they can take us as they find us, right?

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  4. Funnily enough A is horrendous at mealtimes too. We have the same problems with her; the small amount eaten, getting up and down. You’re right though it’s not bad behaviour exactly. It is tricky though. I also know about the embarrassing sister thing, I get that a lot from my two about their sister. It is just one of those things I suppose but it isn’t very nice.

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    • Good to hear we’re not the only ones – even though my kids are older and should know better! With my daughter it’s just avoidance tactics. She really doesn’t want to eat, so will do anything she can to get out of it. The irony is that she still has to eat it anyway, but it takes three or four times as long as it should and the food probably doesn’t taste as nice after she’s left it for so long!

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  5. I think sometimes we almost don’t see this embarrassing (or potentially poor) behaviour in our own children cos we are just so used to it. My eldest has a habit of falling all over the table, kneeling on her chair and just displaying poor table manners. I am constantly telling her to sit round but I wonder if I’m fighting a losing battle at 14?! You have plenty of time left. I do wonder if *perhaps* we let our littlee get away with a bit more than the others….perhaps (talking to myself here too!). x

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    • Good to hear it’s not just us! I think it is very easy not to see it as bad behaviour when it’s normal. We probably are a bit more lenient with my daughter than the others as she’s the youngest but, to be fair, my eldest’s manners are pretty shocking too! Wonder if his friend mentioned those?!

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  6. We despair with Z sometimes as he just likes to bounce about and if he doesn’t want to eat then nothing will make him. I have even taking to fibbing to people..”oh he are before we came”. Argh. Your boy is entering tht sensitive age now I think. I remember regularly shouting at my younger brothers to get out the room when my friends came round. Hopefully he will forget about it quickly x

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    • Thanks, I hope so. Until next time! That’s hardcore having to lie and say Z has eaten! I feel your pain though because we’ve been through the bad eating with two of ours and they’re still not easy now – as this post proves! x

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  7. I think her brothers friend may have done you a favour, I bet your daughter is more likely to take his comments on board than hear Mum repeat the same thing again even if she doesn’t appear to do so now. I should just wait and see. As for eating slowly and less, that is Clio too, I think it is just girls vs boys, even when she loves a meal and wants to beat the boys to seconds she never does and is always full before she finishes what she already has. If she is very unlucky the others will pinch something off her plate while distracting her. There we go bad manners again and I have to tell them off and not smirk at the prank! All part of family life.

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    • Thanks, that’s so true! My boys don’t nick her food, but I remember my brother doing it as a kid, to be honest he still does it now! My daughter also sometimes wants seconds but can’t actually manage to eat what’s even on her plate.
      Haven’t seen much change in her behaviour yet, but maybe there has been a wake-up call for her somewhere deep down inside?!

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  8. Your daughter sounds just like my 2yo. She eats small amounts of food and walks around as we’re having dinner. Hope she grows out of it and doesn’t embarrass her older siblings later on.

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    • Well my daughter is 8, so she probably should have stopped it by now! I hope your 2 year old snaps out of it before then! 🙂

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