My 4 year old and I have started a new game called Restaurant. He thinks it is great fun. We pretend that the kitchen is a restaurant. I put a tablecloth on the table and candles and the crystal salt and pepper shakers. Everyone gets a plate, a spoon, a fork, and a napkin. I put dessert on the table in the middle (as an incentive for good manners and eating enough dinner). I become hostess, waitress, cook, and dinner companion, but we get through dinner.
I "take" his order by giving him the day's special and I use really polite words and a nice voice and call him "sir". For example, "tonight sir, the special is baked chicken with rice and green beans." He in turn says, "oh yes, thank you I'll have that." Seriously, I'm not kidding.
We made up this game one morning at breakfast. I quickly found out that he would "pretend" to use his "company manners" and be nice to me if we played restaurant. Now we play it for breakfast and dinner. He does call me "Cooker" and starts all his requests with, "Hey Cooker?" but I just laugh and say, I'm sorry I only hear nice words in my restaurant. He follows that up with, "Hey please mommy can you get me...."
Last night we even made an attempt to use a fork and put our hands in our lap. It was really funny. He lasted about 2 bites and then couldn't manage the fork with one hand. But we practiced the whole meal. It turned out to be pretty fun.
At any rate, I'm going to ride this ride as long as it will last--probably 3 of 4 more days. It has been fun and a merciful release from the usual dinnertime attitude.
If anybody has any other mealtime suggestions to get the kids to behave let me know!