Family lunches and dinners: teaching your kids table manners.
Christmas is also the time of the year when we enjoy meals with family and friends and keeping small children happy for hours at the table is not always easy! A meal can turn into a nightmare if we do not teach our children table manners.
Young children are impatient and don’t like to sit still for very long. But tantrums and tears can turn your Christmas lunch or dinner into a nightmare.
Don’t worry! As with anything else, all you need to do is "train" your kids at home, giving them simple rules that they will then follow when having meals with family and friends.
- They follow your example: as we all know, children learn from what they see and hear. So make your child understand that meals are a time that the whole family shares. Make an effort every day to talk to your children and share what you have done during the day with them. Having a meal should not be a hasty or dull affair: if so, there is the risk that your kids feel that sharing a meal with you is unimportant or worse still, boring.
- No smartphones, tablets or other devices should be allowed during meals: often technology helps us to entertain our kids during difficult moments such as meal times. At times technology may be a good idea, but it certainly will not help you and your children solve the problem. It is important to establish rules and try to make your children understand that meals are an important moment of the day that must be shared with the whole family, where there is no room for technology.
- If you have your meals at home, ask your kids to set the table or help you get dinner ready: often for children, going to the table means having to stop the game they were playing. That is why it is so important for meals to be a happy moment, and laying the table or preparing dinner may become a game.
- At the table we talk, we laugh, we joke. We do not shout or scream. We do not fight or argue.
- We don’t play at the table: there should be no toys or games at the table during meals at home. Your child must get used to talking and eating without other distractions. At the restaurant, where at times it may be necessary to wait, you can bring a game or a colouring book that should be put away immediately when the meal is served.
Last, but not least, teach your children that they must ask to be excused from the table!
All this takes time and patience, but table manners are something that all children can learn. As with anything else, they will follow your example and what you do will help your children cope with long lunches and dinners with family and friends!