When you hear: "I wanna get down!"
Your toddler finished his dinner in record time and begs to go play -- but you've barely started your meal.
The fix: First, check your expectations -- a child this age can't sit quietly anywhere for more than a few minutes, says Carl G. Arinoldo, EdD, coauthor of Essentials of Smart Parenting: Learning the Fine Art of Managing Your Children. Put food on everyone's plate at the same time, then help him eat slowly by turning it into a game. "See who can finish last," says Dr. Arinoldo. "Kids need to learn to take their time and enjoy their food."
It's fine to ask your child to sit at the table while you finish, but keep him occupied by getting him to talk about his day or giving him a quiet activity. Don't turn on the TV, which drowns out conversation and encourages mindless eating.