My 3 year old sat at the table an hour for every year the other night. Just because she wouldn't drink her milk. And because we told her she couldn't leave the table until she did just that.
She cried, she took a bathroom break, she fussed, she tried to play, she desperately worked us for conversation and entertainment. We continued on with our evening - working, cleaning up, putting The Monster to bed (even though she couldn't sleep because she is quite used to her sister in the room), and I even made caramel corn. For 3 hours she sat there. At that point I subbed out the milk with a cold glass. She spilled that one. I cleaned it up and gave her another one. With a nonchalance that belied the battle of wills she simply picked it up and drank it.
Right now you either think we are cruel parents or are filled with admiration for our stick-to-it-ness. Or you think we're dumb. I'm going with all three myself.
A rule is a rule. We don't care if they don't eat all their dinner. As long as they've tried everything on their plate, they can eat as much or as little as they like. But they have to drink their milk. (Very lovely goat milk, I might add.)
As for us parents, our rule is that if we start down a path we don't cave. If the other says something we don't contradict. So even though we had a pile of things to do and actually needed the dining room table, we worked around her. It was exhausting, I'll admit. I'm proud of all of us for sticking to it. And the caramel corn went really nicely with a scotch once it was all over.
(I used this recipe, but subbed the syrup for maple syrup, added pecans instead of peanuts, and crumbled in some cooked bacon with the popcorn.)
And don't tell the kid, but I'm impressed with her. That stubborness will do her well as an adult, if she makes it there.
What are some of your dinnertime rules? What's the longest you've had to go to enforce a rule?