Mealtime Discipline for Kids – Part 1
Posted on: September 13, 2019.

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It would have been only minutes for a parent to carry the crockery to the meal table and join the children, but in seconds the damage would have happened. A kid’s plain t-shirt would have turned into a ‘saucy’ graphic tee, with ketchup smeared across the front and the sauce around his/her mouth wiped across the sleeve.

Until some manners are taught, children would be most parents’ meal table nightmare. And most working parents, especially, would be helpless with their often-frantic lives. Having to eat separately, in shifts, or on the way to work, opportunities to sit down to a meal together, where manners are taught and practiced, are getting lost.

Here are a few ‘genius’ ideas for teaching your kids some table manners, if you’ve had enough of your children burping, slurping, and making sloppy stains on the tablecloth or on their clothes.

Wiping hands, not on one’s shirt, but on a napkin. It’s probably an unconscious move that children make, constantly wiping messy hands on their clothes, wanting quick relief from dirty, post-meal hands. Shirtless dinners is an effective trick to follow with the kids. Next time, he’ll need to reach for that napkin, as his sleeve or other favorite wiping spot is no longer available.

Complimenting the chef, not complaining. A behavioral epidemic among young children is being choosy on what they would eat. And as it’s hard for children to hold back on sharing exactly what they are thinking, it is oftentimes that they hurt the feelings of the person who prepared their meals. Nicer ways to express their opinions is something parents must teach their kids, as social graces don’t come naturally to kids.

The need to ask nicely for their food. A child’s first instinct, when they see something they want, is to reach out for it. But they must be taught that of all places, behaving that way at the meal table is a strict NO. Personal space at the meal table should come with boundaries. Arms, elbows, knees, and legs shouldn’t exceed the borders of the large mats on the table and the floor. This, besides teaching them good table manners, also helps prevent spilling food while being passed around. Family-style passing around of dishes must be practiced with children, using manageable-size bowls.

Tell kids to chew with a closed mouth. Little ones tend to take huge bites and then cannot close their mouths. Unfortunately therefore, what they’re chewing stays in full view. Guide children, telling them that eating with one’s mouth open is highly inappropriate table manners. Intervene when they try to use a monster-size spoon or forkful to carry food into their mouths, “That’s too much! Why don’t you put half of that back on your plate?”

Yet, if the child already has a mouthful of food, tell that the child that talking with a full mouth makes it difficult for you to understand what is being said. Tell them that you’d be ready to listen after they have chewed and swallow their food, taking their time, no hurry. If a child is busy eating but has something important to say, and wants everyone to stay on-topic until she can talk, teach her to signal this by raising her index finger.

…continued in the next part

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