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!