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to not know what is expected wrt childrens' table manners.

(42 Posts)
holyShmoley Mon 08-Aug-11 17:55:06

reading other threads i fear our kids (nearly four and nearly two) would be considered feral ill mannered.
Please tell me what your kids can/could do at this age and where to gen up on expectations. Also, at this age what fraction of meal times was saying do this/don't do that.

AIBU to genuinely just do the best I can without knowing what is expected by other people, and that we may be seriously falling short.

BoysAreLikeDogs Mon 08-Aug-11 18:01:34

I expect children, once out of the highchair, to sit and eat at the table, no bobbing up and down (get down = meal over)

cutlery wielding comes at different times for different children so no hard and fasts about that

ProfYaffle Mon 08-Aug-11 18:04:43

My dd2 is 4.5. I expect her to sit at the table, although she has to be reminded to sit down quite frequently, make a decent attempt to use cutlery and no general bad behaviour, eg arguing, throwing food etc. She's just learning to put her knife and fork together at the end of a meal to indicate she's finished. She always asks if she can get down once she's finished eating (sometimes many times hmm)

Rowgtfc72 Mon 08-Aug-11 18:05:07

Dd is four and has been able to use a knife and fork for a year now. We expect nice manners, trying to eat a bit of everything and certainly no getting up and down.Nothing exceptional. And yes, at the beginning, there was a lot of dont do that !

TattyDevine Mon 08-Aug-11 18:06:33

I have a nearly 4 and nearly 2 year old so here's what they do

Nearly 4 will sit at the table for the duration of the meal as he knows he can't get down. He faffs about pushing the food around a bit but will generally eat when reminded that that is why we are there. He will interrupt conversation sometimes but retreat when reminded not to interrupt. He chews well, can cut with a knife most stuff and he uses his fork not his fingers, but if we have some kind of meatier meat he can't so we tend to cut it up for him. He drops the occasional bit of food in his lap or on the floor but he is generally not too bad and its not a total mess around his place setting or on the floor beneath him.

Nearly 2 year old still makes a fair mess, and whilst she is good with a fork she doesn't yet use her knife properly, and she will still get a fair bit of food over her face. She has a tendency to try and climb on the table or leave the table if not strapped in. She has a tendency to swipe food from other plates. But she eats well a wider variety of food and sometimes a bigger volume than the 4 year old. She doesn't take part in convesation as such but she is becoming more sociable than she used to be, and no longer screams or screeches if she is bored. But she has a fairly low tolerance zone and wouldn't sit "nicely" for more than 30 minutes tops I reckon so meals out are still a bit hairy.

ChocolateTeacup Mon 08-Aug-11 18:09:03

I have a 3 and 4 year old, I expect them too:

Eat sensibly - No playing with food
Try and use the cutlery - 4yr old manages fine with all 3 yr old struggles with knife
They stay sat down and ask to get down
They get down and take their plate to sink
No TV During meals
No Shouting or larking around - needs reminding from time to time

Generally they do all of this, they do need reminding of it though, I use the we don't do x at the table way of speaking no nagging simply tell them what is expected.

Their manners have evolved since they were tiny, its a constant gradual improvement but I have always kept calm and never nagged them just stated the facts. If they continue to lark about the food gets taken away until they behave themselves and then they get it back again with no extras.

They can refuse anything the don't want/like providing they try at least three mouthfuls - Bread butter cheese and salad is available to them as an alternative meal but I will not cook a completely different meal unless they develop allergies/intolerances

MrsRhettButler Mon 08-Aug-11 18:09:33

Dd always had to sit still and eat, I agree with what BALD said actually, it's the same here

MrsRhettButler Mon 08-Aug-11 18:10:30

Why? How do yours eat? grin

iskra Mon 08-Aug-11 18:10:32

I felt the same OP! DD is 3, and has to sit on her bum until she's had enough to eat, then if she asks nicely she can get down to play until pudding (we are staying with my parents & meals are leisurely). She then has to sit up again for pudding. She always uses knife & fork & has to empty her mouth to talk. She tries to enter conversation but she's only just 3...

iskra Mon 08-Aug-11 18:11:18

Oh and no singing at the table!

SmethwickBelle Mon 08-Aug-11 18:11:28

4 year old will sit at table, use fork and spoon, has a go with knife but still needs help with some cutting. Will eat most things might be suspicious of food at someone elses house and might say he doesn't like it but I can usually steer him back on the road by saying its buttery (he loves buttery things) so he'll eat at least some.

The concept of being polite vs. being rude is one he's only just getting to grips with, thank god he's normally fairly polite.

20 month old will sit at table as opposed to high chair, will spoon or fork half into own mouth then needs encouragement to finish the rest, and becomes restless to leave normally half way through a meal. Pickier than DS1, definitely has preferences.

We can eat in a family sort of restaurant (Harvester, Wagamamas, Nandos, McDonalds, Yo Sushi even) as long as the service is quick, DS1 is great but DS2 has a short attention span and prone to tantrums so it has to be fairly swift.

How much of the meal is "don't do that" depends on where we are, how knackered/hungry they are/what is on the menu and how long we're waiting if we're out. Can be the whole meal, or can be none of it.

Milliways Mon 08-Aug-11 18:11:42

At 4 they should be able to sit through a meal and wait for others to finish/ be excused before getting down. They should also be using a knife & fork, but helped to cut up certain tougher items if needed.

At 5, DS had a friend home for tea. We had Spag bol. Friend ate most with his fingers, which he then wiped all over the chair seat - it never recovered! (We had them re-covered with wipeable fabric eventually, but after my 2 had grown past this age!). This friend also could NOT still still for more than a minute at a time. He had to keep standing up & fidgeting. It was a real eye-opener.

MorelliOrRanger Mon 08-Aug-11 18:13:35

My DD is 4.4 and we expect her to sit nicely and use her cutlery properly. She's also expected to try a bit of everything on her plate (if its stuff she hasn't had before).

5Foot5 Mon 08-Aug-11 18:13:54

I also think staying at the table until they are told they can get down.

At least trying to eat the meal with cutlery but obviously at that age they will get in a bit of a mess, especially with a spaghetti bolognese!

Obviouly any throwing or spitting food out is right out.

I recall that age is a bit young to have mastered the art of eating with one's mouth closed but maybe the idea should be suggested at least to the 4 year old. Gentle reminders to try it hopefully with a view to that being the norm by 5 or 6.

I don't think it is unreasonable to expect a child of that age to at least try something new before they say they don't like it but I think it is a bit draconian to always expect clean plates.

In terms of how much of meal times is spent saying don't do this / don't do that I always thought the main thing is to make it a sociable experience. Don't just give them the food and then police how they eat it but sit down with them and, even if you are not eating with them, spend time chatting to them. Any reminders of table manners could be just slipped in as necessary.

MorelliOrRanger Mon 08-Aug-11 18:15:08

Oh yeh and she doesn't get down until we've all finished and she asks properly. She's very good too.

Sirzy Mon 08-Aug-11 18:15:59

Ds is nearly 2 and can feed himself with a fork as long as it is cut up. Will happily sit in his chair but if out we use cars and books to entertain

mouthwash7 Mon 08-Aug-11 18:16:53

Can't help thinking there's a bit of the rose tinted specs here. Virtually everyone on the other thread has said what exemplary table manners their dcs have.

Whilst I expect my under five to sit at the table and use cutlery, it doesn't always happen, especially in a strange environment. From what I've seen of friends dcs, their's either don't sit still, don't eat or don't use cutlery. I have not yet come across one that will do all three myself. Maybe it's the company I keep?

As for the ones who say their under two will sit at the table for the duration - that's because they're strapped in! Wait til they're not and then pass judgement on others. Are there really 5 year olds who can twirl spaghetti on their fork in a non messy way?

CrushedWithEyeliner Mon 08-Aug-11 18:23:57

This is where I will happily admit to being a bit of a shit parent.

Ds1 is 5 and uses a fork and spoon and makes a mess! Do wonder if he has dyspraxia sometimes as he is so useless with cutlery. Ds2 is better at 4 and makes no mess, but again doesn't use a knife. Both will use fingers if I'm not vigilant. Ds3 is 1 and a messaholic.

Sometimes they will watch tv at the table (if I'm cooking for me and dh).

They get down before everyone has finished too!

I know when they leave home they'll have immaculate table manners, I'm more worried at moment about fighting, kindness and cooperative play (takes every waking moment at this age!)

Flame away, I can take it grin

MrsRhettButler Mon 08-Aug-11 18:24:01

My dd does all 3 mouthwash. (not bragging, just saying it can be expected although obviously all dc are different)

mouthwash7 Mon 08-Aug-11 18:28:17

Yes they are Mrs Rhett. There seem to be those that happily tuck into anything and those that have zero interest in food - it just disturbs their play.

RickGhastley Mon 08-Aug-11 18:32:40

DS is 4 and sits really well at the table, eats all his food, is polite but tends to use his hands more than cutlery! TBH this bothers me not at all.

CrushedWithEyeliner Mon 08-Aug-11 18:36:15

Not accusing anyone here but, I do hate how judgement is always implied on such statements as:

I find it so important for my children to use cutlery by age 4
Or
I don't let my child have anything tinned/artificial/sweetened by sugar.
Or
I won't let my child have a DS or use a computer game etc.

I myself agree with some of the above, but make a point of not saying such things to other parents. It's only designed to make someone feel shit really IMHO.

MrsRhettButler Mon 08-Aug-11 18:37:56

Yep! I was lucky to have an angel child first time around who will eat anything and does exactly as she is told, I'm due my second in 4 weeks and I'm expecting the worst! grin

activate Mon 08-Aug-11 18:42:02

4 year old
not throw food
encouraged to talk with a normal volume voice, not shout
try to use cutlery
drink from a normal glass style
sit down - not get up and down

FabbyChic Mon 08-Aug-11 18:49:05

When I was a kid you never talked at the table, you never drank at the table either as to do so would not leave enough room for your dinner!

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