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... for Good Table Manners

  1. Only a mother can really appreciate a baby learning to feed itself at that stage where baby, high chair and part of the room need to be hosed down afterward.  Feed baby first, clean up the mess and either put it to bed or bring it to the table with a biscuit to join the others.

  2. Seat your small children within your reach at the table.

  3. Explain table rules -  only one or two at a time - before the meal.

  4. Make verbal corrections - one or two at a time - after the meal, and not unless you can make at least one compliment first.

  5. Corrections at the table should rarely be verbal - a loving physical correction plus a pat, smile and caress, done discretely, will teach children the very best of table manners by example (you are making them comfortable - the primary rule).

  6. Interruption is often just give and take of conversation.  Set your own standards but explain them to your children.  If they then break into another's conversation at what you consider an inappropriate time, lay a gentle hand on them, and say "Wait, let's finish hearing what _____ has to say".   Children can understand this concept at a very early age.

  7. Upon a second or third outrageous incident at the table (picking one's nose, scratching one's crotch, spitting, hitting, passing gas or burping loudly, etc.) a child should be silently and unobtrusively escorted to another room out of earshot and firmly told to stay there, and why, until others have finished eating.

  8. If you are going to teach your children formal table manners, buy a book.  You may be surprised at what you have forgotten, and your children will accept an "outside authority" with more ease.  If you don't, and they find a book first, they may take delight in showing you up!

  9. Practice eating skills several times with your children before exposing them to a formal dinner - how to butter a roll, pass a dish, be served tea, eat an artichoke, handle pits or gristle, use silverware and napkin, etc.  They, and you, will encounter less gaffes to be mortified about.

  10.  Make each meal table a pleasant, relaxed place where family members can share each others' day without lectures or criticisms, and where they can learn from each other.  Then kids will want to behave well so they can take part in this most important family time.

     
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