goodManners: Feeding the fidget Prepare for the holidays with a lesson on table manners

The holidays are quickly approaching and that means socializing and dining with others. Children usually love the holiday season and the opportunity to eat and have fun. It’s also an excellent opportunity to teach your child about considerate and proper dining body mechanics.

Proper dining body mechanics may seem like an odd topic, but it’s an excellent place to begin teaching children about dining and etiquette. Children between the ages of 3 and 7 sometimes get excited and nervous at social gatherings.

When that happens there is a greater likelihood for unpleasant events such as, falling off their chair, spilling drinks, food flying out of their mouths.

My personal favorite was when a child sitting next to me was consuming soup. She explained how much she liked creamy tomato soup and couldn’t wait until it was served. When her soup was served, she took her spoon dipped it into the soup with a broad grin on her face proceeded to blow on the soup in her spoon to cool it off. She blew so hard that I ended up with a good amount of tomato soup on my hair and face. 

I handled the situation with a touch of humor and some quick hair washing in the rest room, but it was definitely a situation that could have been avoided.

The best way to teach a young child about proper dining mechanics is during your everyday meals at home or a restaurant.

By doing so, and positively reinforcing it on an everyday basis, it will become like second nature to your child. The goal is to teach and prepare your child before festive events. Here are some dining body mechanic tips you may find helpful

Straight talk on chairs

Small children may have trouble sitting properly in a chair due to their size, but they should sit up straight, keep their feet still during a meal, and stay seated until the meal is over.


A heads up on manners

The old saying “Mabel, Mabel if you’re able – get your elbows off the table” should be extended to include a slumped upper torso, head, and chin.

Offering a helping hand

Hands are the number one culprit of trouble for small children at a meal. Children have a tendency to play with their utensils, food or basically anything within arms reach.

Explain that it is not polite or pleasant for guests to watch this type of behavior.

Have children practice keeping their hands in their lap while not eating. When they eat you may want to suggest that they keep their free hand in their lap as well. Also, remind your child to use their napkin instead of their sleeve or licking any excess food off their hands or fingers.

Out of the mouths

Children usually love to talk. Talking at dining events is great and lots of fun, but not while they have food in their mouth.

This is also a good time to remind them to chew with their mouth closed. Additionally, if their food is too hot, blowing or waving their hand over it is not appropriate. Explain that simply waiting for it to cool down is a much better option.

Sounding Board

Sounds are so funny and intriguing to children. They sometimes need assistance deciphering what is, or is not appropriate while dining. Slurping, gulping and bodily function type sounds are not acceptable dining sounds.

As a fellow parent I can attest to the fact that mistakes will occur from time to time, but more often than not when proper dining body mechanics are taught in a calm, positive manner children respond wonderfully.