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Cutlery and table manners

(10 Posts)
Maylani Sat 04-Feb-17 23:32:38

My eldest will be 5 soon and still eats like a toddler, using fork and spoon and hands if I don't notice and stop him. He's hopeless with a knife, can't butter his bread or cut his food. We've probably let it go too long but he's a fussy eater, not that interested in food, with food intolerances so generally getting him to eat anything (vaguely healthy) without it turning into a battle is hard.

He's in reception so has been quite tired and tantrum-y so I didn't think we needed extra demands on him but by now that's settled down and I'd like to tackle cutlery use and ideally also noisy eating with mouth open.

Any tips on how to establish good habits?

Maylani Sun 05-Feb-17 23:39:04


DontstepontheMomeRaths Sun 05-Feb-17 23:44:05

I think most children at 5 still struggle to butter bread and use a knife and fork well. Both my DCs got better and better due to the school lunches and free dinners. Watching other children and the lunchtime assistants and teachers helped them.

At home I'd just gently remind them how to hold their knife and fork and close their mouths. I tried not to make a big thing out of it.

They're now 8&9 and still struggle to cut meat (too tough for them?) but they're getting there. It's a continual process of pulling them up and praising if they do something well at the table. Not sure it'll end until they're teenagers 😂

skankingpiglet Sun 05-Feb-17 23:59:42

Mine are somewhat younger, but I've found eating together (modelling the behaviour you're after) has worked well. I've also found generally it's best to tackle one thing at a time, so in your case perhaps pick eating with his mouth open and work on that. Once that's fixed and second nature, move onto no hands or how to use a knife.
Does he enjoy cooking? Could he learn to enjoy it by helping make his meals? Not only could it help with the knife skills (of the butter/table knife variety, not a cleaver grin) but might aid with the fussiness issues? They are always more willing to try it when they've made it... DD1 is only 2.8yo but she 'made' jelly with fruit in it yesterday with me (I sliced the fruit and poured the boiling water, she put the fruit into the moulds and was stirred-in-chief), and has constructed dinners like cannelloni (I made the tomato sauce and grated cheese, she mixed the mascapone/spinach filling then filled/rolled pasta etc) as well as the usual cakes and bread. I even got her to try cress in her much-loved egg sandwiches by growing some from seed on her window sill. ok, so she didn't like it, but she gave it a bloody good go

skankingpiglet Mon 06-Feb-17 00:04:24

Also, on the knife front, have you actually given him one he has a chance of cutting things with? Some of the kiddy ones are so rounded and 'safe' they just slip off the food rather than cut it. Ikea do some good children's sized cutlery that have a bit of serration.

DropZoneOne Mon 06-Feb-17 00:08:36

My DD is almost 9 and still struggles with a knife, and it's not for lack of trying on my part.
As PP said, tackle one thing at a time. So closing mouth when eating as that's manners. Then perhaps buttering bread before tackling cutting food - and start with easy to cut foods, that can be sliced through rather than meat or anything that needs a sawing motion.
As he builds up his motor skills and dexterity in his fingers, he'll find it easier.

Maylani Mon 06-Feb-17 00:49:05

Piglet - unfortunately not a cook in the making nowadays. He used to like helping out a bit more (never did help with fussiness, he'd happily cook and still not try it) but now just comes into the kitchen and whinges about not liking this or that. We Always have joint meals so it's not a lack of modelling. He uses adult size cutlery but might try ikea if they have smaller but fully functional versions.

Drop - motor skills might have something to do with it, he's fairly hypermobile so might need more practice.

You're right in that tackling everything at the same time won't work, so will go for the mouth closed message first I think as there's no dexterity involved in that.

skankingpiglet Mon 06-Feb-17 10:12:49

This is the Ikea set smile

Maylani Mon 06-Feb-17 21:38:20

Thanks - looks good, he may get find it easier to manoeuvre than adult ones. But oh no, every time I go to IKEA for a £3.50 item I somohow remember I need half a kitchen and a rug and toys and frames and tea lights and batteries and light bulbs and a mirror and .... grin

Millybingbong Mon 06-Feb-17 21:42:06

That idea set is great. My 3 and 4 yo are good with it. 3yo can cut pancakes and other soft things ok

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