Table manners...What Table Manners? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 1 Old 12-29-2001, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Table manners - what table manners?

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Moderator posted 03-10-2001 07:01 PM
Before I start this I have to say that I grew up with THE table manner nazi for a mother. At 5yo I would be sent to eat in the kitchen for using the wrong fork.
So obviously, I have umm issues about table manners. Watching my 4yo slide on and off his chair a thousand times a meal, pick at his food like he's dissecting a rotting carcass and chew what little he does with his mouth so wide open I can see his tonsils is driving me to distraction.
I try to be very AP about the whole thing, give one gentle reminder before we start or say nothing at all, we light candles to make dinner special - the only benefit that has is that I can't see his tonsils by candlelight. But somewhere between my kids saying "this tastes yucky" beofre they've even tried it, and ds sliding off his chair for the twentieth time I start to lose it. If I'm lucky, we finish without me yelling or lecturing them.
How do your children eat? What should I realistically expect of a 3yo and a 4.5yo? How do you teach table manners?\
Blessings, Becca

Member posted 03-10-2001 07:07 PM
I never realized that we TEACH table manners!!! I just assume that they KNOW!! I say that they learn by what they're shown... but obviously, I can't imagine that YOU'RE eating with your mouth wide open, and up and down every 2 seconds!! :-) (I HOPE! :-))
I just use a stern voice with Owen when he starts talking with his mouth full... I tell him "we don't talk with our mouths open...", and wait for him to swallow, then ask him again what he was trying to say. I've NEVER had a problem with him and eating correctly... BUT he's only 2 1/2, so maybe my fun just hasn't started yet!!!
My best friend thinks that I'm awful the way I let Owen eat... BY HIMSELF! She thinks he makes a big mess, and gets aggrivated when we eat at her house... I say, let them do what they "have" to do... Is this just a phase do you think?? How long has he been being "rude" at the table?
Also, maybe NO reaction would be best... if he sees your NOT effected by his mannerisms, he'll lose interest?
Sorry I couldn't be of more help!!
Emily :-)

Member posted 03-10-2001 07:08 PM
Good subject! I remember having to sit until my meal was completely finished and if I didn't, I had it for breakfast! My ds is 4 1/2 yrs. also. i don't make him finish or clean his plate, but we do negotiate on how much. Taking one bite of his meal isn't acceptable. I try not to be the short order cook or maid. If he wants more ketsup, he can get it himself. He does have to ask to be excused from the table, but he slides around on his chair too. Its a tough one, because by dinner time, everyones tired! Its hard and I can relate. I dont know if this has helped, but know your not alone!

Member posted 03-10-2001 07:23 PM
lisamarie, I also had to sit at the table until my plate was clean. I used to sit there until midnight and then my mother would let me go to bed. The next morning it was there again. Once, I laughed at dinner and my milk came up through my nose right into my pork chops. I sat there all night long. Maybe I should've just given up. I also had to eat dinner with spoons under my arms to keep my arms close to my body. Ugggggghhhhhh.
My 10yo is terrible. She eats with her mouth open, she brings her mouth to her food instead of her food to her mouth, her arms are always waaaaaaaaay to far away from her body and she sits all hunched over. I try not to bring my mother's control issues to our table but, really, she looks like she's been raised by wolves. Every night I go over and over (without being to naggy) the proper manners but it's taking a lot longer than I expected. I have noticed that her friends are not much better - this gives me some comfort (but very little) What to do??????

unregistered posted 03-10-2001 11:10 PM
I too came from a house where my mom made us finish every bite, or else. I think we as moms can get too wrapped up in food issues, whether it's societal or familial or whatever.
Not to rub it in, but my 4.5 yo dd has wonderful manners and always has. I think it's because we decide what's for dinner, but she decides what and how much she'll eat. If she takes 2 bites and then messes around, we just assume that she's done eating and she can take her plate out to the kitchen. Usually just one reminder of that and she'll go back to eating, if she's hungry. Sometimes she just eats 2 bites; I don't stress, I really believe children are too close to being animals that they'll let themselves starve, and so far it's worked!

As far as the open-mouth chewing goes, I don't really think she (at least my dd) was trying to get attention, I think it was just laziness or experimentation or just plain not knowing that it was offensive to look at. Rather than ignore it (which I don't think would help it go away) or make a big deal, we draw attention to it. Humor goes a long way, as I'm sure we all know by now. A big "EEEEEEWWWWWW! Is that your tonsils? I can see your TOES! That is so yucky!" and maybe even a little exaggerated open-mouth chewing by Papa and I, so she sees what it looks like, has really done the trick. Now if we ask her a question, she points to her mouth and shakes her head and waits to reply. She is wonderful to be around, and manners really are essential skills. Good Luck!

Member posted 03-10-2001 11:23 PM
I have three kids, 8, 6 and 2. Obviously no concern about manners with my two year old. if I can make it through dinner without him climbing on my lap trying to nurse, I am feeling good. I don't like to make a big deal about manners, meals should be a relaxing time. But it is not relaxing if kids manners are horrible. I emphasize with my older two that manners are about how your behavior effects other people. It's not nice for the others at the table to see the food in your mouth, or have your arm in their face as you reach for something, etc. That is what I emphasize with my kids about politeness too; it's caring about the people around you. Not about social niceties like which fork to use or whatever. This seems to make common sense to them and helps a lot; Good luck!

Member posted 03-11-2001 06:50 AM
I don't make food an issue but really like good table manners. I think my kids just get tired of hearing "Use your fork!" and do it to shut me up. I'me really big on please and thank you too.

Member posted 03-11-2001 07:22 AM
I can relate to your problem. There are certain things my 2-1/2 y.o. does that drive me crazy! Have you tried telling your child why what he is doing is annoying you? He might like to hear how dinner time was difficult for you at his age, how you would like it to be different for him, etc. And then work in that when he chews with his mouth open you find yourself being bothered, cranky (he probably has already noticed this!) You might find him more agreeable, especially if you only work on one issue at a time. My main issues at mealtime right now are "no feet on the table," no standing in the chair while eating and not pestering Mom and Dad until we're finished eating. I am finally seeing some progress on the feet issue!
I recently read something about parenting discipline that reminded me that it is okay to teach a child to respect our needs, even if they seem silly. Did anyone ever notice how some of us Moms are much better about creating managable "rules" about respecting other people's needs rather than our own?

Member posted 03-11-2001 07:56 AM
I have always gotten the best results (polite children) by being polite to them. I went overboard on the please and thank yous that I said TO THEM and it really started to influence them after a while. (Please hang your coat up on the hook. Please turn off the water. Etc.)
If your family was overbearing about this, it is only natural that you will have a lot of negative feelings and anger that come up when kids are acting gross. Deep breath! If you consistently ask them to do better, gently, they will learn it eventually. Hopefully your hair won't all be pulled out in the meantime...

My husband didn't understand why I didn't want to hang around with a friend of his. This mom would slap her little toddler on the hand every time he used his hands to pick up something that should be eaten with a fork. Geez!

To paraphrase what someone above said, you can tell your kids that manners make other people feel good.

[This message has been edited by Momtwice (edited 03-11-2001).]

mom at home
Member posted 03-11-2001 08:37 AM
Hi Becca,
We have some of these dinner time issues as well. In our case, I think personality has something to do with it. My 5 yr old is always all over her chair, sometimes lying upside down on her chair! It gets irritating for me too and it's not like I have the best table manners. She just can't seem to sit still during dinner.

My 3 yr old on the other hand sits still through dinner and just has naturally better table manners, insists on napkins while the 5 yr old wipes her mouth on her sleeve.

I'm fairly lax about table manners although I don't think sitting in a chair without climbing all over it is too much to ask a child over 2 or 3.

How about a stool for your slider. When we eat in the kitchen, we use stools at an island and the climbing and sliding around is a lot less as they would fall off if they did.


Member posted 03-11-2001 01:16 PM
Try to work on one thing at a time.
I've been known to remove the chair ("You may sit or you may stand. You may not switch around.") This sounds mean, but at the rate my kids eat, they aren't standing there that long! We also practice "restaurant behavior" when we go out to eat - the reward being they get to go again some time!

Moderator posted 03-12-2001 10:52 AM
Thank you all for your replies. It helps just to know there are other mothers whose children do the same things.
I think ds's manners are probably not as bad as I think - or as I posted earlier (just a bad day), and I am focusing more on what is wrong than what is right. I am just fed up repeating myself ad infinitum.
We seem to be following all your suggestions,
the children eat only as much as they chose of thier dinner,although there is a "three bite rule"; we are (pathologically) polite to them and each other, and their overall behaviour is pretty good.
jp, we haven't tried taking away the chair, it might just work, thank you.
It seems as if they behave this way because somehow I am expecting them to - or at least dreading the possibility. Oh well, this too shall pass.
Thanks again for all your help,
Blessings, Becca

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