Friday, June 24, 2011

Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers: May I Be Excused?

Now that we've got the eating part under control, what do we do when the kids are finished eating?? That's simple!

1. Children should remain in their chairs until everyone is finished eating. We do this for several reasons. One being that once one child gets up from the table, the others want to get up too, regardless of if they are finished eating or not. The second reason is so that Mom and Dad are having their meal disrupted having to watch children. Bottom line, stay in the chair. It's just good manners!

2. When everyone is finished eating and it is time to get up, kids should be taught to ask to be excused from the table. This works well for older children as well. If you want to let them up before you are finished and they can handle not being watched, they should ask. Teaching them this early will make your job easier when they get older.

3. Kids should help clear dishes and wash up too. Yes.... toddlers can do this I promise. You may lose a few forks to the garbage at first, but it teaches them how to clean up after themselves. We like to use plastic plates, bowls and cups from Ikea. These are very inexpensive and wont break if dropped. Less stress for Mom.
Check them out:

And that's the end of this series on Toddlers and Table Manners! I  hope you learned something and you're kids will too.

Stick around! There's much more to come! Next week is all about "Unspoken Rules of the Road".

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers: When Things Get Messy

Now, we all know toddlers have their moments. They aren't always little rosie-cheeked angels and we can't expect them to be. Here are common problems with dinner time and some things to try out.

1. Picky Eaters are taught to be picky. Most people don't know if they like something or not the first time they try it. Children need to try things several times before they can determine whether it's something yummy or something they will just push around on the plate. So try serving them the same type of veggie a few times before giving up for a little bit.

Also, we have a special little trick in our home. Changing names. Here, broccoli is "baby trees", cauliflower is "snow trees" and  brussels sprouts are "baby cabbages". Anything to make it sound less "veggie" and more interesting. The proof is in the pudding. My 4-yr-old daughter and 2-yr-old nephew love their veggies! (Note: No... putting the veggies in a blender will not work... we tried that at one point. lol!)

2. Scooting things around the plate is a clever little way for kids to hide the fact that they aren't eating much. Usually, they will fill up on the food they like and "hide" the rest. Here's what we do.
Try giving them a little of the food they like and a little of what you want them to try. Obviously, they will eat the good stuff and want more. Tell them they can have more when they try the things you want they to try. Usually, this does the trick. They aren't full yet...all they need is a little encouragement.

3. Refusing to behave...period. Yes, it will happen. All children have to test the boundaries and I promise your's are no different. When this happens, I find the best thing to do is to remove them from the situation. We simply scoot their chair away from the table so they have a little "time out". They are still involved with the meal and with family time. After a couple times of doing this, they will understand that, to have the good food and pleasant meal, they must behave correctly.

I realize this point is a little more about discipline and less about manners. However, they are tied together in this. Set the rules, follow them and discipline appropriately when necessary and everyone will be happy.

Any questions? Send me an email or leave a comment. I will do my best to help!

Tomorrow is back to being good so check back then!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers: The Main Event

Time to eat! Hooray!Now we get down to the really good stuff. The actual eating part of the meal can prove to be the most challenging when it comes to teaching etiquette to toddlers and small children. They always want to wiggle and don't always want to eat. So here are some things that, with practice, will make mealtimes more pleasant for everyone.

1. Teach children to chew with their mouth closed early. I'm pretty sure its our natural instinct to keep the food in our mouths while we eat. We don't want anything to fall out right? Chewing with an open mouth is a learned (and quite lazy if you ask me) behavior that can be curbed early. A gentle reminder when things get out of hand should do the trick. Besides, no one wants to play "SeeFood" at the table... ok not all the time.

2. Ask Politely! Please and Thank You should become a part of a child's daily vocabulary, not just at the dinner table. Here it especially important to show respect for the people who provided and prepared the meal. Screaming "I want more macaroni" or "Gimme juice" is not cute and definitely NOT something I want hear after standing over a hot stove to make the lovely meal. I'm sure you don't want to hear it either. So, if a child demands something at the dinner table, gently remind them of how to ask nicely, then require that they do so before anything is given. It may be a tad on the harsh side, but asking politely will pay off in a happier Mommy.

3. Rude noises are a no-no while eating. You know which noises I'm talking about so I don't think I need to give examples. There is a time and place for everything. The dinner table is no place for things that might make others stomachs' flip.

Trust me. If you teach your children how to behave at home, those bad habits won't come to bite you in the butt when it's important. Say, dinner with the in-laws. Let me help you avoid the urge to hide under the table or run out with your head down. No one wants to be in that place!

How are we doing so far?? Well I hope!

Check back tomorrow for the nitty-gritty advice on picky eaters and wiggle worms!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers: Getting Ready to Eat

Gorgeous napkins can be found at MargotBianca on Etsy. 

Before the first fork-full is eaten, there are more chances to teach your little one Table Manners. Ok, I'm not saying to do all these things at once. A little bit goes a long way!

Here are some things to try when you sit down to eat your meal...

1. Have your child sit properly. Bottom in the chair, feet facing forwards and no slouching. I know trying to make a toddler sit still is like trying to make an elephant to fly! You may have to lovingly remind them several times, but after a while, they get it. They will have to learn to sit still in school, church and other places. Might as well start early!

2. Napkins are there for a reason.. use them. It might become a play thing at first, but I promise they are still too young to figure out where to hide the peas :)

3. Proper etiquette for anyone at the table is to wait until everyone is served until they begin eating. It is hard for a child to resist what is in front of them, so try this. Serve everyone at the same time, including children. Also, you can try making their plate ahead of time, but not putting in front of them until everyone is ready.
We started doing this when I realized the kids were finished eating before I had taken the first bite. Therefore, most parents (moms) never get to eat a hot meal! Sound familiar?? Serving everyone together makes sure you get to have a nice meal and that your broccoli is still warm, at least.

I hope you are beginning to enjoy meals with your little one. Check back tomorrow for some tips for the main event!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers: Setting the Stage

Family meals are meant to be a time to reconnect. A time to talk about our day and enjoy each other's company. But how can we do that when we have screaming kids at the table, or worse, running around?

Train them early! If you start teaching your children when they are young how to behave at the dinner table, it will be less of a fight later on. Over the next five days, I will share with you some tips and tricks I've learned along the way to turn your spaghetti nightmares into lovely family time (with the occasional bit of silliness sprinkled in).

It all starts before you even sit down to eat. Here are some things to try out...

1. Wash up before you eat. After a full day of making mud pies, picking noses and other "kiddie" things, hands and faces should be washed before meals. Not only for hygiene purposes, but also because no one wants to eat looking at a snotty face. Remember "Bedtime Routines"? After a few times, washing up will become a signal to your little one that its time to calm down and have some family time.

2. Let the kids help prepare dinner. No... I don't mean let them get rolls out of the oven or fry the chicken. Instead, let them wash veggies in the sink or get ingredients out of the fridge. Kids who help with dinner are more interested in eating it for sure. They see what is going into the meal and get quite excited to show everyone what they have done.

3. Setting the table is also a great way to get toddlers involved with meals. It doesn't have to be perfect. A simple placemat, napkin and fork will be quite enough to keep them entertained and out from under your feet.

See that wasn't so bad was it? Ok, you probably have water all over the counters and floor, a few cracked eggs and a messy table setting, but thats what life with toddlers is all about. Fun messes!

If you have special ways of getting your children involved with meals, I would love to hear them! Leave me a comment!

Check back tomorrow for Day 2!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome to Lady Etiquette!

It all starts here. With a single post.

How much do we know about etiquette nowadays? Are manners a thing of the past? 
I think not!

Manners and Etiquette are being swept under the rug in exchange for rushed conversations and road rage. Most children aren't being taught the basics of manners anymore. That's all about to change. Manners are important to everybody. Whether you are a high class business man or a stay-at-home mom, we all need to know what to do in those sticky situations.

My goal is to share things that I have been taught, learned on my own and studied, with you. From fancy dinner etiquette to what I like to call "street manners". Some things you may know, some things you may have forgotten. 

It all starts this week with a 5 day refresher on "Teaching Table Manners to Toddlers"! Yes, toddlers. I promise... it will be fun! So stick around! Hit the follow button and get ready!