Categorized | Parenting, Toddler Discipline

Teaching Toddlers Table Manners

Teaching toddlers table manners is not something they learn automatically. It can take a lot of time, effort and patience. Like development, it is a gradual process. Below are some age-appropriate ways you can teach your toddler.

Be An Example

The best way to teach your toddler table manners? Be his role model. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Show your little one how it is done. When he sees you saying grace, saying please and thank you, talking properly at the table and not doing anything during meal time aside from eating, your actions will ultimately rub off on him. Children love imitating their parents so once he sees you modelling proper etiquette, he will mimic your actions.

Explain and Demonstrate

Instruct your toddler how utensils are properly used. His understanding of things will affect how he handles things. Explain what each utensil is for, when it is used and the correct way to hold it. Do not just sit and expect him to listen and understand everything you say. Show him how to use them through pretend play. Hold a spoon and pretend to scoop soup from a bowl, illustrate the function of a plate by getting food from the table and then placing them on the plate.

Make Early Introductions

Start introducing your toddler to different kinds of food at an early age. Have your toddler try a bite of new foods offered even if he thinks the food looks bland. Explain to your little one that even if he may think a food is gross, he should keep his opinion to himself rather than express it vocally to avoid offending the cook especially when dining outside the house.

Repeat, Repeat and Repeat

Keep in mind that your toddler will not lean proper table manners overnight. You have to be consistent in training him to refine his skills. For instance, once he learns how to say “please” and “thank you”, prompt your toddler to say these words before you give him food.

Keep It Casual

Simple, everyday happenings serve as the best life lessons. Let your toddler decide whether or not an action is proper or improper. For example, if he saw child A getting food from child B without asking permission, ask him “ Do you think that child’s action was rude?” or “If you were in child A’s position, would you do the same thing?”. Helping your toddler understand the concept of table manners is far better than uttering a bunch of rules for him to memorize.

Give Praise

Commend your toddler for behaving well at the table – when he sits quietly, does not talk when his mouth is full, or excuses himself when he is done eating. This reassures your toddler that he is doing a great job and that you are pleased with his behaviour which will encourage him to do good the next time.

Never Scold

If your toddler misbehaves during meal time, never embarrass him in front of people. Instead, keep your calm, correct and remind him in an authoritative voice to stop spitting or throwing food. You can confront him once dinner is finished, when you are alone and relaxed. Giving him the “look” or a hand signal as a reminder also helps. You can also try removing him from the table if he continues misbehaving even after receiving a warning.

Manners are built over time so start instilling them as early as possible. Expect a lot of errors and mishaps so be patient and watch all your efforts pay off.

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