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4 yr old: eating quietly and with mouth closed. Yes / No?

(26 Posts)
Spinningtop Sun 11-Oct-09 23:31:02

Someone mentioned that DS, just 4yrs, eats with mouth open and talks alot whilst eating. Something that had never occurred to me - and yes, point taken, now my attention has been drawn to it, he does. shock

I sit next to him at the table and have never noticed. blush

Obviously I plan on reinforcing good table manners but I do feel slightly guilty that I didn't pick up on this myself. I sometimes struggle to get him to eat his food anyway, so I'm probably focusing on his just eating.

Should he have mastered the art of eating with his mouth closed by now?

Pyrocanthus Sun 11-Oct-09 23:40:31

I think I'd just settle for eating at the moment. Don't introduce a source of conflict which might make him even less keen to eat.

flashharriet Sun 11-Oct-09 23:45:23

Would it help if I told you that ds (10) still does this, having had constant reminders since the year dot?

StopTalkingAndEatYourDinner Sun 11-Oct-09 23:51:15

This is my mumsnet name for a reason!! grin DD never (and I really mean never) shuts up. Witters on constantly and takes 3 times longer than everybody else to finish a meal. She is 4.6. No advice I'm afraid, just thought you'd like to know you are not alone!
Lets hope they grow out of it or find very understanding partners!

slowreadingprogress Mon 12-Oct-09 00:32:44

Aww leave him alone. He's 4, it's completely normal, surely! Forget it. He will pick up alot of the social norms of the table by sitting with you and watching adults anyway, in due course, as he matures. 4 is too soon to worry about this, by a long way, imho.

Concentrate on making mealtimes a lovely social time where you enjoy chatting with him rather that trying to get him to shut his mouth smile

zazen Mon 12-Oct-09 00:41:01

I have to say I'm the opposite - the sooner you start the easier it's done.

FWIW my 5yo DD has never opened her mouth when chewing - we taught her table manners when she was tiny, and, we can take her anywhere - and we do grin

We have a lovely relaxed time at mealtimes as a result - I really can't abide bad table manners, they are unplesant for everyone.
DD's school has table manners lessons, which I'm pleased about too.

It might be worth getting your DS's nose checked out. If he's mouth breathing a lot, he could have adenoids.

flashharriet Mon 12-Oct-09 00:51:26

"we taught her table manners when she was tiny, and, we can take her anywhere - and we do "

Believe it or not zazen, so did I. Bad table manners are my complete and utter bug bear but ds seems to have a mental block about them. Not sure where to go next with it - what do you suggest?

witcheseve Mon 12-Oct-09 01:04:05

At 4 I wouldn't bother about it but at 8 yes I would introduce good table manners.

I've met lots of people that slurrp their hot drinks and it's never occurred to them that it's unpleasant for their companions, just as other's who eat with their mouthful have never been checked for it.

Good luck, it's all about upbringing in the end.

zazen Mon 12-Oct-09 01:07:22

Well to make a fun game out of it is a good idea.

You know, with sound effects. Maybe even farmyerd sounds! No animals at the table...
Also a story about someone you know who.....
very useful.

and show him the washing machine midcycle and ask him did he know his mouth looks like that when he's eating? And tell him that it's off-putting for you to see his food sloshing round. Be honest.

Emphasise the team aspect of eating together, and get him to understand that he's part of the family, and "we do this...."

Involve him in setting the table, and clearing it, so that he's more involved in the process of mealtimes, and the expectations of that..

mealtimes are a fab way to connect, and it's a shame if one person's eating habits are offensive and spoiling it for others. Make that point.

Good luck.

Sixer Mon 12-Oct-09 01:37:15

I can't see how a child will learn table manners later on in life. We have always reminded our DC of table manners. What ....Pisses me orf is school saying it's great to be different so much! I'll remind ds 8 fork in left, knife in right , and get the response "we're not all the same, it's good to be different" .... Rahhhhh

kreecherlivesupstairs Mon 12-Oct-09 08:39:11

I have the same problem, my lovely dh has the table manners of a pig and that is being kind to porkers. I loathe seeing what he is eating and he slurps his tea. DD occasionally goes through phases of eating like Daddy, but mainly I can get her on my side and we laugh at him. He isn't about to change the way he eats, but I am certain I can do something with her to make her mastication more consistent.

seeker Mon 12-Oct-09 08:56:33

i hold my knife in my left hand and my fork in my right - always have done. And I have lovely table manners!

I think you introduce table manners gently from the beginning. It's no use letting them eat any way they want then suddenly when they are 8 start introducing manners!

I would certainly expect a 4 year old to (usually) eat with their mouth closed and (usually) not to talk with their mouth full.

And (this is my particular hobby horse) wait til every one is sitting down and served before starting to eat!

BonsoirAnna Mon 12-Oct-09 08:59:34

I think most 4 year olds are capable of eating with their mouths closed most of the time, and of not talking with their mouths full, provided that they have been given the right role models since birth and have been reminded by their parents/carers at every meal of how to eat nicely.

IMO this is a good habit to get into very early, as bad eating habits are hard to correct later in life.

HSMM Mon 12-Oct-09 09:19:21

My DD never ate with her mouth open, or spoke with her mouth full until she started school. Now she is 10 and has appalling table manners. (by the way - she just seemed to naturally eat with her mouth closed somehow)

witcheseve Mon 12-Oct-09 11:50:50

Gawd I meant eat with mouth open. I do agree it's something that needs checking at some point.

mosschops30 Mon 12-Oct-09 12:00:48

AARRGGHHHH!!! I hate this, in adults or children, I cant stand sitting next to someone who eats with their mouth open or talks whilst eating a mouthful. I have to say something even to an adult because it puts me off my food blush

Yes deffo tackle it now, its just bad manners and no excuse for it. Its not a skill to be 'mastered' its just polite, like saying please or thank you

gorionine Mon 12-Oct-09 12:05:22

My dcs all chew with their mouth closed but they do not half chat between morsels!grin

Spinningtop Mon 12-Oct-09 19:39:09

Eating with mouth closed achieved, in part, already. The chatting incessantly will evidently be a different issue!! Unless he's ravenous and then not a word!!

Thanks all. Good to hear the different points of view as always.

parker1313 Mon 12-Oct-09 19:53:29

I am so so so pleased that this thread is on here.I too didnt notice my ds he is 5.5 and he does the same.I encourage a little now but dont go on about it too much.
It does sound awful when we eat out though blush

moosemama Mon 12-Oct-09 20:00:59

I had the same experience as HSMM. Both my boys had lovely table manners, ate with mouths closed, sat nicely and didn't talk with their mouths full - until they started school. Within half a term of them starting their manners disintegrated and I am now fed up of hearing my own voice constantly reminding them of their manners.

Its not just eating with their mouths open and talking with their mouths full that gets me either, its them not sitting properly and instead sitting on their feet or twisted round, with a hand on the back of their seat or with one foot on the ground as if they are desperate to get up and run off (but then again maybe that's just my peculiar bugbear).

Some days I choose to sit in the other room and leave them with dh when they are having their tea, because I find the constant reminders so stressful that it ruins their meal as well as mine.

Ds2 (5) has improved on the eating with his mouth open front recently because he noticed how horrible the little boy opposite at lunchtime looked when he was doing it.

I have to say, despite their manners not being as I would like them, they are vastly better than a lot of their school friends. When I have been in to 'Bring a Parent to Lunch' days I have found it hard to eat anything because I find it so offputting (well that and the fact that the food is so apalling).

Iirc we were taught table manners (well all manners really) from the word go. My parent's certainly didn't wait until I was considered old enough, we were expected to sit nicely, eat properly and not to speak at the table, let alone speak with our mouths full (don't agree with the last one myself and I feel family meals should be a social event). Am I really so old? sad

Spinningtop Mon 12-Oct-09 22:46:16

Moosemama - noooooooooooo, don't think you are old!! Just appreciating the good things we USED to have!!

I'm dreading DS starting school. As for stopping him talking - impossible.

moosemama Mon 12-Oct-09 23:47:45

<wails> But I AM old. Only today I had to face up to my fear of entering Top Shop, due to the fact that I turn into an instant granny the minute I cross the threshold. blush

I have the same problem in Oasis. [double blush]

Thank you anyway Spinningtop, not only were you very kind, you have saved me from killing yet another thread as well. smile

moosemama Mon 12-Oct-09 23:48:01

Oh dear. I bet I've killed it again now - doh!

Spinningtop Tue 13-Oct-09 08:29:23

I bet you're not as old as me!! But whatever my age I've deceided I'm hot (flushes), rocking (swaying) and I am at the most glamerous of my life....hmmmm!!!

......what was I talkiing about earlier? Ah yes, children and eating (see memory is shocking too) grin

ChopsTheDuck Tue 13-Oct-09 09:18:24

I don't agree with the keeping quiet neither - meal times should be sociable.
Mine do chew with their mouths shut though, and I do nag about sitting properly.

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