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how old were your dc when you started insisting on table manners?

(30 Posts)
deaconblue Mon 25-May-09 19:40:10

Ds is 3. I currently insist on no chucking food, no spitting, sitting at the table until we've all finished eating, asking nicely to leave the table, wiping hands and face after eating.
I am currently ignoring the fact that he eats with his fingers even though he can use a fork and spoon perfectly well as we've had awful battles over getting him to eat a range of foods and he is finally eating well every meal time.
When did you go zero tolerance on bad manners?

Wilkiepedia Mon 25-May-09 19:43:22

DS is 2.4years and we encourage good table manners but accept that he is a toddler so occasionally it is out of our hands. I think 3 is too young for zero tolerance personally, just gentle guidance and persuasion shouls suffice. I would guess about 4/5 years for zero tolerance??

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Mon 25-May-09 19:49:22

we have always encouraged good manners, there was no time when we decided to start. As for eating with hands or fork, if you know he can eat with a fork I would encourage him to do it.
I wouldn't go zero tolerance.

the same message relayed by everyone at every meal will get through at some point.

ErnestTheBavarian Mon 25-May-09 20:05:26

hmmm, well, I've repeated gently the same message at every meal and my dc still eat like pigs. I'm going for the zero tolerance approach now. They
-keep elbow on table and simply swivel from plate to mouth
-don't cut food up small but rather shove huge chunks in, or bite bits off the enormous lump on their fork, like bloody toffee apples or something.
-chew with their mouthes open.
-bite down on the fork.
-scrabble for the next mouthful when they've only just crammed more in.
-eat with their fingers.

the list no doubt goes on. Honestly, it's a disgrace.

How do you do it though? My mum made every meal time a misery with her ott approach. I've gone for the good example and gentle reminders approach and have produced a brood of ferrel pigs.

Quattrocento Mon 25-May-09 20:07:27

I think we were zero tolerance from about 2. Their table manners are good now but it's been a long haul (they are 9&11 now).

thisisyesterday Mon 25-May-09 20:09:05

we've never done zero tolerance really, but just keep reminding the ds's how to eat nicely and what is and isn't acceptable at the table.

ds1 thankfully eats beautifully most of the time. ds2 is another story hmm

Portillista Mon 25-May-09 20:10:36

We were zero tolearance from about two, too. They are now 7 and 5 (just), and their table manners are anything from excellent to appalling, depending on their general frame of mind. They do get removed from the table if they persist in behaving badly; DD doesn't tend to do this, as she likes her food so much! Quattro - I'm encouraged by your DCs.

terramum Mon 25-May-09 20:13:31

DS is 4.10 & we still don't insist on a lot of things, simply because he's just not capable of them yet. I think we expect far to much of our children still...maybe harking abck to the Victorian ideas of being seen & not heard?

DS has trouble sitting still while he eats, let alone when he's waiting for others to eat or for food to arrive (say if we are out & about) so I don't mind him exploring or playing a bit.

He still eats with his fingers mostly, but is experimenting with cutlery and I'm happy to leave him to learn in his own time.

Spitting food out, while gross isn't something I'd chastise him for as he occasionally will try something new & he doesn't like them he does occasionally realise half way through chewing that he's actually full and doesn't want any more & I'd rather he spat it out than eat it. I simply encourage him to do it discreetly so as not to upset others.

Throwing food isn't an issue any more - he stopped doing that of his own accord!

Wiping hands etc after eating is the only thing I insist on (and usually have to remind him)...but I don't really see that as table manners tbh. Just a part of tidying up after a child grin

Quattrocento Mon 25-May-09 20:21:23

See, I think if you expect a lot of children, they live up to it. If you expect them to eat with fingers/leave the table before everyone's finished/throw food etc then they won't let you down

letswiggle Mon 25-May-09 21:17:10

My DSs' nursery is zero tolerance from when they can hold the cutlery, glass etc. I have spied on them at table, and they are all angelic which shows that they can do it, if they feel like it. Agree with Quattro

Portillista Mon 25-May-09 21:22:23

I do generally like Victoriana, so this may be why I insist that the DCs wait until we're all sitting down and ready to start, never mind staying sitting down while they're eating (if they're not sitting down, their meal is over). blush If we're out and about and waiting for food to arrive, I keep them busy with paper and pencils (or even Top Trumps) if their attention is starting to wane. I would not under any circumstances let them leave the table in a restaurant - I would feel that child-free diners deserve to eat in peace and quiet. That said, I wouldn't take the children to anywhere that would involve them sitting still for hours on end and making no noise - Pizza Express is about our limit!!

DD is 4.11, and I expect her to use a knife and fork. I don't remotely expect her to do it perfectly all the time, but I do expect her to have a very good try. In fact, she's better at it than her older brother!

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Mon 25-May-09 21:46:57

am with portillista

DS1 is 5 and DS2 is 2.5 and the victorian rule work well here.

Quattrocento Mon 25-May-09 23:46:24

I think that by the time they were 5 we had dragooned them into knives and forks, elbows off table, mouth closed when eating, no getting down before (a) everyone had finished and (b) asking to leave the table. There were times when I wanted to legcuff them to their chairs ...

It has taken until now to get them NOT to start eating until everyone has been served, to make conversation sensibly and offer to pass things around.

Table manners are hard work IMO

Portillista Tue 26-May-09 09:07:51

I'll second that, Quattro!

psychomum5 Tue 26-May-09 09:18:15

table manners in mine started being more insisted upon from the time they came out of the highchair.

and if they ate badly, they got put back into the highchair.

By behaving badly tho, I am not talking eating with their fingers (the cutlery usage comes with hand control, and as long as they used a fork for most of their meal, I was able to overlook the fingers if they were otherwise behaving properly.

behaving badly came down to throwing food, getting up and down for no reason other than they could, shouting across the table...etc.

they soon learnt by example how to behave

that said, our boys can certainly test our patience at times still, and they are 6 and 9(just). they do the elbow hitting and kicking tho.......and they then get sent away from the table, and can only return if they are able to sit properly.

ErnestTheBavarian Tue 26-May-09 09:56:45

how do you do the whole zero tolerance without making lives a misery. I have gently (ok, grumpily) tried to instill good manners and am fed up with the view. But have many bad memories of meal times as a kid. So how do you do it. (we eat together at table at least twice a day, and 3x at w/e, so at table together many times during the week with my excellent example) yet they still eat like animals. so, how to you do it without mentally scarring them for life?

Quattrocento Tue 26-May-09 12:54:15

Oh scar them for life. It's either that or they grow up unscarred and eating like animals. Lesser of two evils IMO. It is a hard slog though, no doubt about it.

Portillista Tue 26-May-09 17:47:12

grin Quattro!

ErnestTheBavarian Wed 27-May-09 08:07:38

well, I refused to feed 1 and beat the other 2 with big sticks last night, and it seemed to work fine.

mrshibbins Thu 28-May-09 22:17:55

I inherited an SD at 6.5 who had never been taught properly, as had been living with a very neglectful BM. At nearly 8 she will still eat with her fingers if left unchecked, and still ends up with food all over her face, down her front, all over the table and the floor around her. It's been a hard slog trying to get her to do different and I have regulary praised for 'princess manners' or threatened a large sized high chair and bib. The only thing that is making a different now is peer pressure as she is being mocked by her friends, who call her mucky pup and miss piggy, and she so doesn't like that...

bruces Fri 29-May-09 14:29:51

i have 3 children and we have always insisted on good table manners we expect them to use cutlery from about 2 1/2yrs and they have all managed to do this very well,the youngest is 3 and after eating a good amount she normally leaves the table after 15mins,which we are happy with and then will come back when the rest of us are finished for pudding with us,I think it's nice to see children eating and sitting nicely at tables.

cory Fri 29-May-09 22:22:16

I am currently struggling with ds. He is 9, so old enough for us to have quite high expectations. Otoh he has a joint disorder which means that holding knife and fork hurts his wrists, he is clumsier than other children, finds it difficult to cut things, and is very, very messy. Because he knows he is not good at it (and because he is in pain), he is in a permanently defiant mood at the dinner table and gets very angry when told off for his table manners. Or else he puts on a deliberate clown approach and does things badly on purpose, so that we won't see him doing them badly because he can't help himself. We seem to have got to a stage where he comes to the table expecting to get into trouble and his expectations are amply fulfilled. Wish someone could help with good advice.sad

cory Fri 29-May-09 22:23:29

Part of the problem is that it is very difficult to know what he can do and what he can't and what is a reasonable level of pain.

ErnestTheBavarian Sat 30-May-09 06:33:08

not good cory I have a fraction of your problem inasmuch as ds has big fine motor problems, so I know he tends to use fingers rather than fork if he thinks he can get away with it, because it's easier, and also why he doesn't use a knife. But his problems are just with difficult rather than with pain. your poor ds.

I don't really know what to suggest. How about before the next meal (not when food is on table getting cold or being threatening, cos it sounds like all mealtimes are now threatening, poor all of you, not fun) - anyway, how about you sit down and have a calm chat about why you think good table manners are important.

Then agree how you'll move forward. How about, to take the pressure off you all, you choose 1 particular issue, eg chewing with mouth open, or using fingers, and he only has to achieve that in that particular meal.

re importance of manners - I was brought up with rigourously good table manners thanks to Victorian mum. But I spent some time working as Au Pair in France, and our manners aren't the same as theirs and I remember the mother taking me to one side and having a go at me about my manners. Slightly different, as it was a cultural difference, but nevertheless an illustration of how important people view good manners at the table. Do you take him to restaurants?

Poor him tho - my ds is 9 and can't imagine him having on a daily basis to be contemplating what is a reasonable level of pain.

ErnestTheBavarian Sat 30-May-09 06:33:58

oops, suppoed to be empathetic not insensitive

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