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Author Topic: Kids standing and sitting on the table  (Read 33826 times)

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Kids standing and sitting on the table
« on: December 25, 2012, 06:58:29 AM »
Another-what can I say if the parents dont discipline -thread.

Background1: We celebrated Christmas early at my moms house with my DB, his GF, and their two kids, nephew and niece.  Nephew just turned two years old and hes a lovely and sweet little guy but his parents rarely tell him no.  As a consequence I am starting to see him engaging in behaviors that I deem inappropriate.  One of these behaviors in particular is climbing on the table where we eat.  He will sit and or stand on the table, and play on the table.  If you take him off the table he will climb right back on and his parents do not intervene at all.  Not only is there an ick factor from his feet and diapered patootie all over the table but it is really inconvenient when you are trying to use the table for any purpose as he is constantly trying to grab phones, remotes, magazines, utensils, etc.  So basically if he is on the table anything you are using at the table is fair game and rather than the parents reining him in they put the onus on you to move all of your stuff.

Background2:  My mom threw out her back and I had to take over preparing the Christmas meal as my mom could not even get out of bed.

So normally I put up with this table behavior because my mom does not say anything and it is her house.  It became a real issue for me as I was preparing dinner this time instead of my mother.  Dinner was just about ready to go on the table in about 15 minutes when I started setting the table.  This included utensils (knives also) which I put in the middle of the table out nephews reach, assuming he was on the floor where he should be.   I went back into the kitchen to get food out of the oven and place them on the counters I had specifically cleared for this purpose.  I turn around to see that SIL has un-set the table and placed everything where the food is supposed to go.  Fuming, but without a word, I proceed to reset the table.  I go back to the food and see that she is bringing all of the tableware back in the kitchen again.  I stop her and tell her that all of the counter space is being used and this cannot come back in here.  She tells me she with a tone of annoyance (at me)  that she has to keep it away from nephew.  I really wanted to say, I think you need to keep nephew away from the table and not what belongs on the table away from nephew, but what I actually said was I dont care where you put it, but nothing is going on these counters but food. 

So she then stashed all of the tableware and condiments at various high places in the dining room.  Consequently at the very last minute we had to hunt down all of these items and then when we were eating had to keep almost everything on one end of the table out of his reach as he kept standing on his chair and trying to climb over plates full of food to reach them.  It is really getting frustrating trying to eat a meal with one hand and form a human barrier blocking nephew from any items on the table with the other.

Firstly, I dont have kids of my own so just want to make sure I am not making a bigger deal of this than it really is.  Secondly looking for what I can say to them considering these are not my kids and these things are not happening at my home?


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2012, 07:23:04 AM »
I think you would have be well within reason to tell SIL to keep nephew off the table while you were setting it.  Something like, "There's no room in here and we'll need those things when we start eating; please leave the things on the table and keep nephew off."

Have you tried telling nephew, "no", instead of just blocking him from your food?  I'd give it a shot.  Just calmly look at nephew and say, "Nephew, please don't grab my plate while I'm trying to eat."  It may work, or at least wake your brother and SIL up to the fact that other people may be bothered by nephew's behavior.

You could also try asking your mother how she feels about nephew grabbing everything.  Maybe if the family presents a united front with nephew, things will change.


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2012, 07:28:28 AM »
First off, you are NOT overreacting. I have never heard of parents allowing a toddler to climb all over a dinner table, much less while people are using it! It's extremely dangerous for all involved.

I would pull the parents aside and frame it as a concern for his safety: "DB, GF, I have to admit, I'm really worried about nephew and the table. Every time he does it I'm terrified he'll injure himself".
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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2012, 08:04:00 AM »
you absolutely can and should do/say something.

when he climbs on the table, put him off the table. if he climbs back on - plunk him on the lap of your brother or his wife "here's your cutie! please keep him off the table" and walk away.

When your SIL took the stuff off the table (seriously! what nerve!) instead of fuming silently just say "why are you doing that? the table needs to be set now, please leave things as they are". if when she continues to take things off, be firm (bonyk had good wording).

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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2012, 10:49:57 AM »
As other posters have said, there's a BIG safety issue here and it should be addressed. 

I was always taught that a table  was to be used only for 'table things' such as eating, reading and quiet crafts.  All these activities were to be done at different times.  I wasn't  even allowed to pretend the table was a fort and play under it when the table wasn't in use.

Kitchens and dining rooms can be full of hazards for little ones and little ones in these places can be hazardous to grown-ups. 

Cats on the table, no.  Toddlers on the table,  certainly not. 



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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2012, 11:22:09 AM »
Yeah, this is a real parenting problem for SIL. She and your Brother need to keep children off the table. Period. No ifs, ands, or butts. If they really want to allow it at their house, you can present it as a house rule for yours.

My youngest when she was just walking, but not even talking yet, thought it was really funny to dance on the table. We told her to stop, enforced her to stop, and she stopped. This was on empty tables, not one with silverware or food.

We also stop our cats from getting on the table. For that we used a squirt bottle of water.

Not etiquettely approved for humans, though.
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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2012, 12:11:14 PM »
I'd start with the homeowner - in this case, your mom.  For future events, does she want your nephew allowed or not allowed on the table?


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2012, 12:26:42 PM »
First off, I have to acknowledge Twilight's patience.  I would have been snapping, "Off the table.  NOW!" long before.  Safety, hygiene, just plain inconvenience, all are excellent reasons to teach a kid not to get on the table. 

Obviously, SIL doesn't care.  The question is, how much does Twilight's mother care?  If necessary, will she allow someone else to do the dirty work?


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2012, 12:40:33 PM »
What is this, I don't even?? Ah sweet Etiquette Hell, my favourite place for my daily dose of surrealism.  ;D

OP, you are not overreacting, that is a completely ridiculous situation. It's a dinner table, not a playground or a jungle gym.

I would tell them I am setting the table and we want to have dinner, and no children are allowed to climb on the table. Wait did I really just write that. "No children are allowed to play on the table when it's being set for dinner or during dinner". Does anyone really need to be told that?  :o


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2012, 12:44:20 PM »
Not sure what your family dynamic is like, but in mine I have no problem telling my nephew no.  My sister is sort of the same way as your db, in that she doesn't tell Wade no as much as she should.  She is also the sort that will sit on the couch and tell him no half-heartedly.  At just turned 4, Wade doesn't often listen to that.  If he is at my house, I will put in him time-out or spank him if I need to (please no debate, this is something we believe in in my family, although it is not used very often).  Doesn't bother her at all.  I think she is glad someone else is disciplining him so she is not the bad guy.   :P

Thankfully, Wade is a good little guy who will generally listen to us.  :)

Maybe you should try telling him no, or telling your brother how you feel.  You never know, it might make a difference!


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2012, 12:47:54 PM »
ok, glad it is not just me. 

My mom does not want him on the table either but she will not speak up about it.  She does not want to create waves especially because DB's GF can be a real nasty piece of work at times who has been known to leverage the kids to give her the power position, saying things like, "Well, if you do/think that then I guess you don't want to see the kids."

It also makes it more difficult in that GF will sometimes actually put him on the table herself so me telling him to stay off the table is confusing to nephew.  Although there have been many occasions where I have removed him from the table only to see him climb right back up.  He seems to think it is a game.

In the past my general rule of thumb is that I try not to say no to him unless it is a safety issue- like taking knives/sharp objects from him and telling him he is not to play with those, or telling him he is not allowed to hit his sister or kick the dog or if he is about to break something.   

Thanks for the suggested wording.  I may try a combination of the suggestions.


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2012, 05:15:08 PM »
Wow. I had a feeling GF was like this, hence your mom's reluctance to say anything.

This is so nasty and inappropriate in so many ways, but are you able to appeal to your DB and frame it as a safety issue for nephew? Stress that you would feel awful if he cut himself stepping on a knife or fork, was burned by hot food, or if he fell onto a piece of glass and really did some damage. Or worse, fell off of the table and hit his head/broke a bone.

This isn't even close to being acceptable and honestly, don't worry about your status as not having kids. That's not relevant, IMO. What *is* relevant is that this poor kid's mother is putting him in a dangerous position and won't listen to reason.

If I were in your position, I'd step up to be the "bad guy" so your mom doesn't have to, but maybe discussing this with your brother?

I hope this works out. I'm irritated on your behalf but worried about your niece and nephew.


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2012, 05:34:05 PM »
Obviously, letting a toddler climb on the table while you're trying to set it or eat off it isn't OK, but I do have some sympathy for Brother and SIL. It's just not as easy as 'saying no' and the kid stops whatever thing you're wanting them to stop. It's pretty painful, sometimes, and I don't think they're horrible people for not wanting to deal with that on Christmas Day. Of course they're his parents and that's their responsibility, blah, blah, but I do understand.

That's a pretty unpleasant way to have to eat your Christms dinner, though, OP, and I agree that you can ask Mum and Dad to get jr to stay off the table. I, myself, spent some of Christmas lunch with a screaming toddler in another room.


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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2012, 06:23:45 PM »
Your Mom has two choices - Be a grown up and stand up for herself or let this GF walk all over her. Kids that age can be taught right from wrong. Climbers can get themselves in serious trouble - and need to be taught when it is ok (climbing structure/tree) and when it is not (disturbing people at the table)

My Cousin's little girl is a monkey. Em is 18 months or so. They have a dresser with a hutch that almost hits the ceiling of the room. Cousin left a screw driver on the top shelf out of Em's reach while she went to get something she needed.

She walked in and found that Em had scaled up the dresser, up the hutch, picked up the screw driver and was half way down. A couple of weekends ago, we turned around and Em had scaled a 4 foot high brick wall and was walking on it like a balance beam.

Em's Uncle (Also less than 2 yo) once climbed up on a counter opened the cupboard above, scaled the shelves, got his grandmother's High BP meds, got down, was found with some in his mouth - so had his stomach pumped. Aunt/great Aunt of both of these kids got lost at Criders one time - was found up a pole. (She was old enough to know better)

But while the stories are legend in the family - and laughed about outside of the kids hearing (We joked we needed them today to get Brett's remote control helicopter out of the tree), the kids are told NO. They are either distracted, removed, or put in time out depending on the age and level of understanding.

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Re: Kids standing and sitting on the table
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2012, 07:25:18 PM »
If I was the one in charge of doing things because my Mom was disabled, I can assure you I would I would have no trouble insisting that this child stay down,  and not use the household goods as a playground.  If the parents don't like that then they are certainly free to leave.  For parents who don't make their kids stay down or think it's "kuuuuuute", kids have been killed when the object they are climbing over topples over on them.  The last one I heard about was an old, heavy TV.

There is nothing smart or kuuuute about letting this behavior go unchecked.  If your kids love to climb, take them to the playground!
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