"Take a bite."
repeat ad nauseam and occasionally throw in:
"No singing at the table, you're supposed to be eating."
One day I decided to put five pennies in front of each child's place. I asked them what sort of things I have to tell them at the table. They easily chanted off everything I repeat over and over at each meal, proving that they are listening to me, just not obeying all the time. I told them that if I had to tell them something like that, I would remove a penny. At the end of the meal, whatever pennies they had left would be theirs to keep.
We've done this a couple different times and had good success with it. Tonight Lucy ate her meal in record time and cleared her plate and cup without being told! (She's usually the one I have to remind to "Take a bite.") Who knew would only take 15 cents for three better behaved children at the table? If they get tired of the pennies, maybe I'll use chocolate chips occasionally. This is actually a great motivator for me to keep my mouth shut too and not just repeat my phrases unless really necessary, because then I have to take a penny from them.
Do you have any fun ideas for encouraging better behavior? We need to work on our bedtime routine and behavior too...