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!

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