Contributed by The Family Dinner Project Team
The Waiter, Waiter! game helps give structured chances for family members to move away from the dinner table — and move back. Sometimes, family members need short breaks from sitting and participating in the meal. Kids who get fidgety after a short length of time, but still want to finish eating and being a part of the fun and conversation, might need an outlet that helps them move around without disrupting mealtime.
This game is also great for building additional skills, like listening, following directions, and gaining confidence with simple activities of daily living. Here’s how it works:
- You’ll need a way to keep track of time and/or signal that it’s time for the “waiter.” Use an alarm on a phone or watch, or keep a bell or buzzer on the table.
- At intervals throughout your meal, ring the bell (or set the alarm to go off) to signal that it’s time for your child to get ready to help. You might decide to set an alarm for every 5 minutes throughout your meal, or simply ring the bell whenever you notice that someone is getting especially fidgety. It’s entirely up to you.
- When the bell or alarm has sounded, cry “Waiter, Waiter!” Then follow it up with a request for help that allows the child to leave the table to complete a task. For example:
- “Waiter, waiter! Please bring more water to the table!”
- “Waiter, waiter! We need more napkins, please!”
- “Waiter, waiter! I spilled some sauce. Can you please bring a rag?”
- “Waiter, waiter! Please bring us some ketchup!”
- Once your child has completed the task, make sure to say a big thank you before they sit back down.
You can change the name of the game if you like — “Helper, helper!” works just as well, or anything else you might prefer. It’s just about having a fun way to signal your child that they’re about to receive a task.