Rowdy at Dinner

I frequently receive letters and emails from my readers sharing their successes and failures as parents. While I prefer reading the success stories, I also find value in parenting failures because it gives me an opportunity to reach out and offer advice on a topic that I’m passionate about, Love and Logic® parenting. I look for opportunities to encourage parents to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. My advice seemed to pay off for this mother and in the following letter, she shares her success.

Dinnertime Dilemma

Dear Kerri,
I just had to share my recent success story and offer a big “Thank You”. I’m a fan of your work and a big believer in the reward system you teach so I decided to give it a try. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled with the results. I have a 5-year old son who is a non-stop little ball of energy. Although this energy is wonderful to watch, there are times that I wish he would sit still and mind his manners.
That said; dinnertime has always been a challenge. This should be a time for our family to come together and share the events of our day, express our thanks for food and family and enjoy each other’s company. Lately, it’s turned into a time that my husband and I dread. The delight has been drained from our family time due to the poor manners and temper tantrums of our 5-year old. It’s a constant struggle to get him to eat, sit still, use his napkin and clear his plate. I was so tired of being frustrated that I decided to change my method of parenting and enlist your reward system.

Instead of focusing on his bad behavior, I offered a tangible (and immediate) reward for his good behavior. Every time he responded to a request, he would receive a token. When he was asked to come to the table, sit still, eat his dinner and clear his plate, he was given a token. I also made sure to tell him how proud I was of his good manners. I saw an immediate change in his behavior.
Every now and then I would allow a “bad manners night” to let him enjoy dinner without feeling like he’s constantly under a microscope. On these nights we would make dinnertime fun and not worry so much about table manners. Within a short amount of time he was responding to all my requests and using table manners that any mother would be proud of.

Since starting your reward system I’ve noticed a positive change in my son’s attitude. He looks forward to acting like a well-mannered little gentleman and really likes the positive reinforcement (and tokens) that accompany his good manners. He’s anxious to please me and he knows that, when he exhibits good manners at the table, there’s an immediate reward for his good behavior.
Thank you for your parenting advice; it’s worked wonders for our son!

Lillian H.
Boise, ID


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Kerry Stutzman MSW, LMFT

My passion is helping my clients develop close, connected families and healthy relationships. For the past 20 years I have been helping people discover the best version of themselves.  Learn more

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My specialty is couples therapy with parents. I also have expertise in parenting, betrayal recovery, and addiction.  Learn more

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My focus includes trauma, attachment, anxiety, depression, and relational work; including a focus on children and teens, parents, and couples.  Learn more

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I specialize in working with parents and caregivers with children from cradle to college, with special focus from birth – 10 years old. Learn more

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