Getting Kids to Talk
The younger the child, the simpler you want to make it. Dont ask yes/no questions. Instead of “”did you have a good day””, try “”what did you do today””. A fun thing to do is ask about something good and something bad about their day. We go around our table and everyone has to share their high and low for the day. We encourage our kids to ask about our day as well so that they also learn about listening to others.
–submitted by Tar Stockton, Mind Your Manners
When we sit down for dinner, it is not just to “eat and run”. It can be one of the most sociable and delightful times! Ideally not hurried – but with the young set, it is going to be brief – expectations not too high…. If they understand that this is a time during which everyone can review the day, share some insight or experience, it will become a treasure, associated with pleasure and joy, (think of it as long-term investment…). Take a moment to review your own memories, and you might understand what I mean. If memories are not so sweet, then today is not too late to start dinner conversation traditions with your own family. Establish simple rules, for example, language: certain “potty” words are always unacceptable. Who talks when, and how? Interrupting should not be acceptable, no matter how exciting the story. I find it helpful to tell our son that it’s his turn after big brother’s. He’s content to wait, as long as he gets his promised turn!
Listen actively, because it satisfies the need to be heard, and causes less stridence. For the those inclined to short answers, or to shyness, ask open-ended questions,e.g.: “Which songs did you sing in preschool today?” Follow up with specific titles, colours, shapes,etc., to encourage “story-telling”. It’s really easy to to get the conversation rolling by repeating statements in the form of questions.
–Submitted by Tara Stockton, Mind Your Manners
Keep it simple for the very young. Remember, today is not too earlyto start. Since we no longer live in an age, where we eat at separate tables from our children, it is up to parents to teach the basics. First, make it a rule, that fingers are not an option – ever. Even a one-year-old can handle a spoon. Where appropriate, e.g., cereal,encourage your little one to use it as much as possible. Cut pieces small enough to fit, and give praise for the effort made. Remember that they imitate you. For the two- to five-year-old set, kiddie forks can be added to the spoon. At that age, they hold tools in a fist – perfectly acceptable and appropriate. To minimize messes, I got into the habit of using a large Tupperware lid. It has a rim, and spillsare contained. I also buy the cheap, striped, restaurant-style dish towels at Smart & Final, and pin the the narrow end around the neck with a large safety-pin. Since we switched from paper to cloth napkins a while ago (more economical and attractive), our son observes us and is in the habit of often wiping his mouth. I also remind him frequently that that’s what it’s there for. And, since little children constantly wipe their hands on their shirts, the large towelis a wonderful option: the shirt stays (half-way) decent, and the towel/napkin gets tossed into the laundry basket at the end of the day.
Posture at the Table
–Submitted by Tara Stockton
For up to three years, posture really is not an issue, since the youngest naturally assume an upright poise. Beginning at about three and up, when they are out of the high-chair and sitting at the table, you can start training them in those old rules.
You know – the ones which we’ve all heard from our mothers and fathers since time immemorial….. “Napkin in your lap/around your neck” (depending on the age. At around five, they stop using their shirts as a general-purpose rag….) “Sit straight” “Elbows off the table; hands on the table/in your lap” (depending on your personal preference. In my school, we teach European style). “Don’t lean on the table.” And my personal variation on the theme: “The food comes up to you, you don’t bend down to the food”
Consistency is the key and, in my opinion, a quiet gentle insistence that these are the expectations at every mealtime. Sometimes, for laughs, all of us put on the worst possible behaviour, because those admonitions do get old. But, in the end, you’ll be glad you did! Ask yourself: what is more pleasing? Do I want to be proud with my child(ren)’s behaviour at home and in public? If your answer is yes, then you already know what to do, don’t you….