Today I am welcoming guest blogger Emily Patterson. Emily is the Marketing Coordinator of Primrose Schools Day Care (http://www.
It may seem like an old-fashioned idea to teach children table manners, but some things never go out of style. Knowing how to sit nicely, chew with your mouth closed, and respect other people is always fasionable. It’s also about far more than simply teaching your little one to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘you’re welcome’. It’s more about the positive habits and behavior that will help your child relate to other children and adults as they grow up.
1. Have regular family dinners: You don’t have to gather around the table every night for a group meal but doing so several times a week is the best way to teach children good etiquette naturally. When they grow up observing you using good table manners, they will be more likely to learn and use their own manners. This will help them develop positive friendships as they grow.
2. Start when they’re young: There’s no such thing as a child who is too young to learn nice, polite table manners. Just as walking is learned in stages, so are manners. Even little infants in high chairs are learning manners as they sit and watch everyone eat and wait for the family to be done with the meal. Young children can learn to sign ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ even before they are able to clearly speak the words. Children as young as three should be able to stay seated for a full meal when they are with their family. Youngsters are very proud of new skills they learn and want to share them. It’s a perfect time to teach them how to use forks and spoons correctly. Let them also try cuttying, which is best done with butter knives and soft foods such as bananas.
3. Offer specific feedback: It’s one thing to tell your child ‘Good job’ and another to say “I love the way you put the fork so nicely on the napkin’. Being specific in your praise helps your child clearly understand which behaviors shuold be repeated.
4. Encourage appropriate, polite conversations: There is no better place to practice the art of conversation than at the dinner table. With your guidance, your children can learn how to wait for a break in the conversation to speak, how to say ‘Excuse me’, and how to listen to each other. Talk about how your day was. Ask leading questions about their day. By setting the expectation that everyone will eat nicely and enjoy and conversation, you will turn mealtime into a truly special time.
5. Lead by example: Children will listen to some of what you say, but they take in all of your actions. The best way to teach your child good table manners is to use them yourself.
6. Have a routine: Children crave routine and learn best when they are part of a regular one. You can start by introducing them to the pattern of laying down a napkin in their lap and waiting until everyone is served to start eating. Include a routine of asking to be excused and placing their plate in the sink afterwards. Begin a family routine of working together to clear the table and clean the kitchen. Routines should be easy to remember and repeat. Your child will need gentle reminders along the way; but the process is something that can be done at home. Your child will soon learn the wonderful manners that you are trying to teach him/her.
If you have questions specifically about Primrose Schools, you may contact Emily at: EPatterson@primroseschools.
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