Last week I talked about picky eaters and how if you don’t nip that in the bud you will have children with poor eating habits and terrible table manners. I just briefly touched on the table manners topic and I really feel that it is something every Mom should cover. But in light of recent events I am feel the need to talk about it. Apparently it seems not all Moms feel the need to teach their children all the same table manners as I do. I am not asking for Mrs. Perfect Etiquette here, just the norm.
Real Life Table Manners:
When you are guest in someone’s home take small amounts of food to be polite and gratefully eat your meal. Eat with an open mind when trying out something new and you just might find that you will like it. This must be taught at home. The Five Bite Rule is a great rule to have at your dinner table and it covers this etiquette concern well. Children under five years of age are required to take one bite for each year of their age. So three year olds are required to eat five normal sized bites of the broccoli or whatever “yucky” food they think they do not like. This helps to remind them that they have to try it no matter what. They also start to like it the more they try it or are surprised by the taste and decide they like broccoli!
This is a better rule than the “Clean Plate Club” because they are not required to eat what they don’t want but they do have to try it. If you start cleaning the dinner plate when you don’t want to eat starts an unhealthy habit of eating more than you need. Just trying foods and keeping an open mind is a good habit. Eating a wide variety of foods typically means a well-balanced diet.
I teach and have taught my children to eat over their plate so that if they miss their mouth all their food falls on the plate and not onto my floor, table cloth or their clothes. This is a great rule for deterring messes. But if you want your children to be able to go to a fancy restaurant, or Auntie Prim and Proper’s house for dinner without embarrassing you with a disastrous mess then you have to enforce these rules at home at your dinner table too. Sit at the table as many nights as you possibly can for dinner and enforce good eating habits from day one. I cannot tell you how many times I have received wonderful complements on my children and how well behaved they were when I was not there. This is because I gave them the tools they needed to be on their own.
Three year olds and four year olds should be using a fork not their fingers. Feet, shoes and hats never go on a table. We wash our hands before a meal. We chew with our mouths closed, and we don’t slurp or make noises while eating. Four year old boys will expel some sort of gas at the dinner table, and that is our queue as Moms to tell them that it is not acceptable. Moms need to ask their family how was their meal and get the conversation going so when they are at another person’s home they learn to thank and be grateful to their hosts.
Teach your children to push in their chair and help clear the table after they are done. This is an excellent rule. It is a great help to a mom when someone helps to clean up but it also teaches your children to pitch in and help at other times to. When helping, and cleaning up is a part of their life they can go out into the world and do the same for themselves or not act like a spoiled rotten princess that expects to be waited on when they are guests in another person’s home. How nice is it when someone helps you, teach your children to be that helpful person, that nice person, that person that others will want to have around them.
I cannot understand why anyone would want their children to be that person not invited back because they were such ungrateful slobs, but there are parents out there like that and it is sad. So give your child the tools they need. These rules will start to spill over into other aspects of their life too. They will be grateful and helpful in other ways too. These are just a small section of tools that you should give your child. Clearly there are more tools your children will need but table manners should be one of the top ones on your list. I will touch more on some other good table habits in a later post but I would like to know what table manners you are teaching your children?