How young is too young to teach your child table manners?
It is so adorable to see a child at a restaurant who knows how to use table linen and utensils. Table manners do not start at a restaurant and neither a friend’s house. It should start at home when the child is very young. At what age should you start? In my opinion, teaching should start as soon as the child can sit in a high chair and eat baby foods/solid foods.
As school education is important so are table manners. Table manners are part of a child education. Good table manners are not only defined by how you hold your napkin, utensils, and glass. It is defined by how you are sitting on a chair, how you are dressed to sit around the family table, at a friend’s house or a casual or fancy restaurant. Many people will inadvertently exclude proper attire from teaching table manners. Proper attire is an important part of table manners at home or outside the home. Making sure that a child knows that clothing is required to eat at a table is key learning.
Before setting the family table for dinner, it is important to make sure that the sitting arrangement is correctly set when using a baby high chair. Creating sound routines is also the key to avoiding any embarrassing moments and table accidents. Children at a very young age always observe any activities around them. Because all their senses are not fully developed, they adapt well to routines and will mimic gestures. That is the time to get their attention while their brain is spongy. Placing the high chair where she or he feels surrounded will create a sense of comfort and security.
The next step is to arrange feeding time if possible around dinnertime. Breakfast and lunch can also be included if possible. An infant in a high chair must not be excluded from the dinner table. Infancy stage is the perfect time to start teaching table manners. No matter how different his or her eating hours are, by adding a place at the table you will then start creating and forming a stronger bond and a better sense of family togetherness. A healthy snack can be offered at that time until feeding time can be synchronized with dinner. After building the foundation at home, eating outside the home should not be an issue. The next steps would include the proper handling of utensils, waiting to be served, etc…
Table manners are gradually taught with age. Setting the dinner table correctly, with placemats, plates, glasses, utensils, napkins or table linens, etc… should help a child get acquainted with table settings. And therefore, eating at a restaurant should not be an awkward situation. As a child gets older and accustoms to seeing the same type of foods at home and a restaurant, he or she will be more comfortable with the lifestyle you are trying to teach.
Whether at a family function, a casual or a fancy restaurant, basics table manners should always be observed. Making sure the child does not put her or his feet on the chair is an important factor of proper training. For the arms, there is nothing you can do at a young age; you will have to wait until they are tall enough to position their forearms correctly. Chewing, another basic table manner is to be taught early. Talking and chewing at the same time should not be allowed, neither is holding food with your hands and speaking at the same time.
We tend to forget many things, and it is the smallest thing that can embarrass a parent in public. Depending on your culture and your upbringing, it is fair to say that society is unfortunately very judgmental. We should not let fear or discouragement block us from continuing what our parents have taught us and shared with us. All we have to do is create the time to train.