Quick Tips: Getting My Child to Sit at the Table

Posted on: June 25th, 2015 by SAAAC No Comments

How do I get my son to stay at the table for an extended period of time? I find if he were to stay at the table longer he can enjoy family meals and get more out of school/therapy activities. Any strategies?

This is a question we frequently get from parents. First off, eating and learning can take place anywhere, not just at the table. If you find that your son is completing tasks while sitting on the floor or on his bed or on the porch that’s
a really good thing!

If you were to drag him back to the table it puts unnecessary demands on the child. If you can help your son build a skill on the floor, then work on the floor. We want to decrease any barriers to the teaching process.

But, what we can do is give you strategies that can make the table a less averse place for your child.

Tip #1

Make the table a fun place. At first, do not do any work or demand anything from your son. Get his favourite activity and have him do it at the table. Does he like playing on his  tablet or drawing pictures on sheets of paper, get him to do it at the table for an extended period of time.

Create an environment where your child can ask and play with things freely and without your prompting.  Give him access to a lot of things he likes while you engage with him as well. This is what we call pairing with your child.

 Tip #2

When your son becomes slowly acclimated with the table, you can slowly start introducing tasks. The task you give your son should be very simple. When he completes the task give him a lot of praise and quickly reinforce his behaviour with something that he likes. In the example below, we introduced a task and quickly gave our student the ball as a reinforcement.  Also note how different the tone of voice is when giving an instruction and when giving  praise after an activity is complete.

Something to Remember:

When you are pairing with your child at the table, the table can be filled with different activities and things of interest to your son. But when you begin an activity, remember to clear the table of any items that can be distracting. If not, the incidence like the one below will be all too common:

Finally, always follow through with your instructions. If you ask for something, make sure the task is complete before reinforcing your son. If the task seems to difficult, break it down into easier steps and reinforce your child after each completed step.

Hope you were able to get some useful strategies out of this quick tip post. Email us at if you are need of tips and strategies.