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Table manners for 6yo - WDYT?
Is this reasonable? What changes would you make?


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#1 beabea

Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:43 PM

The following is a list of table manners your child should (apparently) have a good grasp of by the time they turn six. I just googled it here:

QUOTE
- Wash their hands and face before sitting down to the table.

    - Sit down in their proper seat and put their napkin in their lap.

    - Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and has been served. Many families wait until an adult gives permission to start eating.

    - Stay seated in their seats without wiggling in their chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down.

    - Say, “Excuse Me,” and ask permission to leave the table.

    - Elbows do not belong on the table.

    - Mouths should stay closed while chewing and pieces should be bite sized.

     - “May I please” and “Thank you” should be used when children would like food and never reach across the table.

    - Participate in the conversation during dinner and no interruptions when other people are talking.

    - Slurping, burping, squealing, singing, humming are all sounds that are not to be made at the table.

    - It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about what is being served for dinner.

    - Before getting up at the end of the meal say, “May I please be excused?”

    - Ask if adults would like them to clear their dinner plate.

    - Thank the cook.


I felt a bit hopeless after reading this as my 5yo is so far from being able to complete this list that I don't see him doing it over the next two/three years, let alone one. In fact, I have just spent what must be the three hundred and sixty-third night in a row losing my sh*t at him at the dinner table and all I really want him to do is sit still for five whole minutes and not hurt anybody, break anything or get food from one end of the dining area to the other (eating optional). I can't imagine him getting to grips with the concept of refraining from slurping, burping, squealing, singing or humming. Keeping his mouth closed whilst chewing seems like more of a five-year goal.

And it's not for lack of trying. We almost always sit down together seven nights a week, and I try to keep the list of "things to work on" short and attainable. So for example I would be happy if he progressed to only squirming around (as opposed to continually getting off his chair, crawling under the table, and trying to climb on it), if he stuck to his "indoor voice", and if he fed himself in a manner which looks slightly more refined than the technique used by the cookie monster. This is my entire list and it seems so very far out of reach.

For those with six-year-olds and above, do they really grow up that quickly over the next twelve months? Do you think the list is reasonable/average/on the strict side/too lax? What do you expect of a 5-6 year old in terms of table manners?

Followup question: what are your techniques for teaching table manners? (I just asked DS what I should do to help him that I haven't already tried and he said he needs a list of rules he can see from his place so he can remember them all. I mean, all THREE of them.) We have the summer school holidays coming up and he might be better rested and more receptive after a few days off the normal routine. Maybe. Anyway, it's worth having a plan. It is really driving me absolutely batsh*t insane.

#2 Glikker

Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:51 PM

i remember these rules where quite similar when i stayed at my grandparents house when i was young, i was doing pretty much all of that from about that age up, possibly even slightly younger.
but i would not expect my kids to do a few of those things, some yes, but not all of them.
i wouldn't try any bull with grandma and pop, but put me back at home where these rules where not inforced and i'd probly be found NOT doing most.

i don't remember how they got me to follow them, but they did.. i know i was very sensitive to letting people down, or disapointing, those words made me feel horrible when i was younger.
(i am greatful now, i can be a bit of a bogan at times, not the smartest cookie in the jar, but i can also go out somewhere fancy, show good manners, look nice and 'fit in'. i can even set a fancy table setting lol all thanks to my grandparents lessons.)

Edited by justmummy, 16 May 2013 - 10:57 PM.


#3 MoonPie

Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:54 PM

I can't get my 34 year old to do most of those things.

I'm sure that's all well and good and lovely, but its not my priority at dinner time. Rather, we chat about our day, get homework done, watch tv and relax together. Of course, outright bad manners aren't tolerated, but those things aren't all that important in a day to day setting for us.

#4 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:56 PM

my 6yo can do all of that, but generally not all at the same time.  She'd do a lot of it, but it depends on how tired she is, how interested she is, etc.  She is much better when/if we go out to dinner.

Perseverance I think.  they may not have it all together when they are 5 or 6, but you'd hope they were pretty much following most of that by the time they are 9-10.

(my kids have only used napkins a few times.  It's not something we use regularly at home.  How could I have been so negligent?! My bad!)

#5 fancie

Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:58 PM

Hi OP, my DD had most of those rules pretty much under control by the time she was 5-6.  

I have to say that children getting up from the table during their meal because they are distracted drives me insane.  We made it clear to DD that if she wandered for the fun of it, her mealtime was over.  An occasional toilet break okay, playing around under the table, around the table, on the table (yikes!!!!) was absolutely not acceptable.








#6 The Old Bag

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:00 PM

My 7yo could manage most of that most of the time, but from what I see of his friends he'd be the unusual one in that respect.  He might need reminding about his elbows and about sitting up straight. .... which I can sometimes be bothered doing,  but mostly not.



#7 aprilrain

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:03 PM

Most of the things on that list are just having consideration for other people.

I'd think washing your hands, helping set the table, and waiting until thanks is given is not that hard. A 6yo is at school, where there are lots of these types of rules to be followed and most of them seem to manage it.

Courtesy costs nothing.

#8 Butterflyqueen

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:05 PM

OP my DD's are 7 and 9 and don't have a lot of those rules as regular habits, at least not at home. We still have to remind both about the odd talking with a mouth full of food/chewing with mouth open, DD7 is impossible to get to sit still and eat, elbows on the table all the time and dont get me started on the burping and farting  rolleyes.gif

They are pretty good when we go out so I think they do know their table manners they just like to push my buttons at home.

Just keep repeating your expectations and cross fingers that if you cant get through, his first live in girlfriend beats him into shape. biggrin.gif

#9 opethmum

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:06 PM

It is about discipline, I know people say pick your battles but if you think you are ready then all the power to you.
Before the meal perhaps get your son to set the table for you and actually help him out, perhaps get some plates, cup and cutlery that will be appealing to him e.g. spiderman or ben 10 etc. Get him to set himself up at the table and use a reward chart or have something visual to see how a meal is supposed to progress e.g. wash hands, set table. sit up at table etc
With the serving perhaps get him to do it so he can have control of his portion and get him to know that he is expected to eat his portion.
If he messes the table up or causes a fuss then place him in timeout and stick to it. Get him to take responsibility for his meal and get him to help out in the kitchen before meals and after meals.
Good luck.

#10 silverstreak

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:07 PM

I don't do a lot of those things! We don't even have a table to sit at (we use the computer desk and coffee table) and we often fart during dinner (hey, farts ARE funny!). Napkins are only used when they come with  takeaway food!

I think that list is quite unrealistic. I personally would aim for no throwing food, at least try what's on your plate, try to stay in your seat and no rude comments about the food. But I have a ten month old, so I'm not much help!

#11 agnodice

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:13 PM

Sounds like the most un-fun dinner ever.

#12 beabea

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:15 PM

QUOTE
I have to say that children getting up from the table during their meal because they are distracted drives me insane. We made it clear to DD that if she wandered for the fun of it, her mealtime was over. An occasional toilet break okay, playing around under the table, around the table, on the table (yikes!!!!) was absolutely not acceptable.


Exactly! It drives me insane too! It's definitely one of my "things". But to be honest, I think that's the rule that got us into trouble in the first place. I used to end dinner the moment he left his chair and we may be in a phase where he now leaves his chair in order to end dinner. I have started a new rule in the last couple of months that if he leaves the table he not only has to come back but he has to practice sitting properly for five minutes after everyone has finished. I would say after two months we are at the stage where it only usually takes him five minutes to do his five minutes of sitting (as opposed to it taking 45 minutes) so perhaps it is starting to work... I should keep a diary.

He doesn't really need to eat in the evening any more but I guess I expect him to sit and make conversation for a token period as part of the evening ritual and also from the practical angle that I can't be supervising everyone everywhere at once and I need at least a few minutes to eat, too!

The climbing on the table is actually a more recent thing which he has started because his younger sister gave him the idea (she is two, she did it one day about five months ago and got put back in her seat and everything but he thought it was funny and now he does it as basically a form of tantrum throwing - luckily not that often).

Edited by beabea, 16 May 2013 - 11:16 PM.


#13 bakesgirls

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:19 PM

My eldest had learnt these rules by around 5 or 6. My middle child is 4 and has most of these things down pat. She does get up occasionally to go to the toilet, but besides that she sits at the table and is polite to those around her. She occasionally forgets the rules and does silly things, but I suppose she will get better with age. My youngest is 1, so we still have a bit longer until she reaches the stage where she can show consideration for others around her.

We don't use napkins at home, but my DDs know how to use them when we are out. DD1 and DD2 also only thank me for dinner after DH has done it first and given them 'the look'. DH is more concerned about thanking the cook than I am. I don't mind if I don't get thanked, but DH was bought up to always thank his mother for cooking dinner, so he expects the girls to do the same.

#14 Lokum

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:20 PM

- Wash their hands and face before sitting down to the table. = YES
- Sit down in their proper seat and put their napkin in their lap. = PROPER SEAT YES but no napkin
- Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and has been served. Many families wait until an adult gives permission to start eating. = NOT YET, not expected.
- Stay seated in their seats without wiggling in their chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down. = 90% of the time.
- Say, “Excuse Me,” and ask permission to leave the table. = ASKs permission 90% of the time
- Elbows do not belong on the table. = WHO CARES?
- Mouths should stay closed while chewing and pieces should be bite sized. =LONG TERM GOAL,
- “May I please” and “Thank you” should be used when children would like food and never reach across the table. = DEVELOPING
- Participate in the conversation during dinner and no interruptions when other people are talking. = GENERALLY
- Slurping, burping, squealing, singing, humming are all sounds that are not to be made at the table. = A BIT OF SLURPING AND BURPING OK
- It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about what is being served for dinner. = LONG TERM.
- Before getting up at the end of the meal say, “May I please be excused?” = I"m FINISHED. PLEASE WASH MY HANDS
- Ask if adults would like them to clear their dinner plate. = NOT YET
- Thank the cook. - NOT YET

My kid is nearly 3. I'm hopeful we'll get there by 6. Getting off your chair mid-meal, even if it's a snack, is a grave sin. It can signal either communal horror with all assembled adults gasping in shock and disgust, or the end of the meal, no negotiating. Now if he looks like wriggling we raise one eyebrow and it's usually enough to glue his bum back down. Similarly, he still ends up with a fair amount of food on his hands/face/hair, so he would not dare to get down until we have washed his face and hands. (An offshoot of this is he expects me to wipe his hands after a snack in the car, even if I'm driving.)

It has taken utter consistency and strictness though. We're not unreasonable - if he's tired, we let him go and don't push our luck. It's hard to stay on your chair if the meal is too long, hence we don't make him wait until everyone's assembled to start, or everyone's finished to get down.

We're crap and inconsistent at lots of other things, but table behaviour is our 'thing.'  It means we can go out to eat, and it's culturally very important to extended family to eat long meals together in large groups.

Childcare also backs up these rules.

Inability to sit on your chair for a meal at age 5 doesn't bode well for classroom activities.


#15 YellowKittyGlenn

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:20 PM

All of that on the list is what my sisters and i were brought up with so been doing that my whole life. Everything on that list is being considerate of those around you.

#16 agnodice

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:28 PM

QUOTE (YellowKittyGlenn @ 16/05/2013, 11:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
All of that on the list is what my sisters and i were brought up with so been doing that my whole life. Everything on that list is being considerate of those around you.


No it's not.

It's a random culturally defined list of 'correct' behaviours.

You don't show consideration and kindness and politeness with a random list of instructions. You can be perfectly mannered and yet rude; you can put your elbows on the table and be graceful.

I tend to go with the spirit of the message. Would I expect my kids to be considerate of fellow diners and respectful of the food given to them by age six? Yes. Would I expect them to spontaneously remember to wash their hands without prompting or sit straightbacked and a chair and never ever interrupt during an enjoyable family meal? No way.

It's dinner, not high tea with the ****ing queen. And even then, it would be more fun with some lightheartedness.

#17 beabea

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:29 PM

QUOTE
Inability to sit on your chair for a meal at age 5 doesn't bode well for classroom activities.
Actually I think his classroom activities might be sucking at least some of the patience for sitting still out of him. That's another reason I want to tackle this over the upcoming school holidays. They are doing an awful lot of sitting quietly at a desk performing fine motor tasks all day.

QUOTE
I tend to go with the spirit of the message.
I guess this is my aim, too. At the moment we are, like, the anti-spirit dinner table.

Maybe I could push harder on that angle? Make sure he knows it's about consideration? Try to look harder for opportunities to give the message of consideration (in any context, not just at dinner)?

Edited by beabea, 16 May 2013 - 11:32 PM.


#18 aprilrain

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:31 PM

I'd also use boosters for seats and decent childsize cutlery as it is hard to keep your elbows in if you are too low or push peas on the back of your fork if it is too large. These sets are great for kids as they aren't too small or flimsy and the knife is serrated. They are proper stainless steel and I still have the ones my 20yo used. whiltshire childrens cutlery I bought it at Myer but Ebay has them too.

#19 angelinaballerina

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:33 PM

My 6 year old follows those rules and has done since he was sitting at the table with us for meals. Granted he may need reminding of some, but for the most part he does follow them.

#20 kpingitquiet

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:55 PM

I think it's just practice, practice, practice. Of that list, my 2.5yo manages the following, most meals:

- Wash their hands and face before sitting down to the table.
- Sit down in their proper seat and put their napkin in their lap. (well, she keeps hers on the table, but yeah)
- Stay seated in their seats without wiggling in their chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down.
- Mouths should stay closed while chewing and pieces should be bite sized.
- “May I please” and “Thank you” should be used when children would like food and never reach across the table.
- It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about what is being served for dinner.
- Thank the cook.

The rest comes with time and practice. I think some are less critical than others. Elbows on the table is handy if at a crowded or formal table, but not as important during relaxed family dining. It just depends on your priorities. For us, being an open-minded eater and being complimentary of the cook is most important, along with laying off gross talk or behavior at the table.

#21 JRA

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:55 PM

I don't see a big deal. I thought they were just normal

The elbows on table I think is hard for little kids because they aren't tall enough. But if they were sitting on a cushion, no problems.

Edited by JRA, 16 May 2013 - 11:57 PM.


#22 YellowKittyGlenn

Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:55 PM

Avada thats your opinion but TBH having manners is never a bad thing. I was taught what my parents were and their parents. We were also taught you dont leave the able until everyone is finished.

I go to dinner with friends and none of us eat with mouths open or elbows on table. I cant stand people eating with mouths open thats plain disgusting, our dinners at home were not formal affairs but as a child and adult i never find and found it difficult to be in formal situations. Seeings kids running around at resturants and anyone interupting whilst another is speaking is rude.

Table manners dont go astray. I dont get whats so hard about saying thanks for dinner xyz, its by far better then ignoring the effort the person went to, to create the meal.
Im starting to think that the way i was raised is alien to some here in EB land but not in my RL.

#23 statua angelam

Posted 17 May 2013 - 12:16 AM

It's an ideal, but if DD doesn't have that all down by age 6 I won't be panicking, either.  Certainly I'd expect it by age 10 or so.

And - personal bugbears - I would add, during meal time, there is no TV on, there is no use of electronic devices, there is no answering the phone, there is no reading of books.  Actually relate to one another!

#24 Lokum

Posted 17 May 2013 - 12:16 AM

QUOTE (beabea @ 16/05/2013, 11:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Actually I think his classroom activities might be sucking at least some of the patience for sitting still out of him. That's another reason I want to tackle this over the upcoming school holidays. They are doing an awful lot of sitting quietly at a desk performing fine motor tasks all day.


That makes sense. It's one of my worries about my DS1. We can get meal time out of him, but otherwise he's like a flea in a fit. Will he be able to sit still and copy out the letter 'A' 15 times? I sort of hope dinner table training will help.

Early primary years often involve lots of busy work which suits little girls but not boisterous boys. Maybe it's classroom control, and that most early childhood teachers are women?


#25 beabea

Posted 17 May 2013 - 12:20 AM

Hm. So alright, at least I know it's not me being unreasonable. I mean each child on their own schedule and all that and maybe we don't have to focus on some of the more culturally-specific things like where to put your napkin.

Still looking for more brilliant suggestions on how to get compliance. (Thanks to those who have already contributed ideas.)

The leave-the-table-if-you-muck-up rule is absolutely counterproductive (he has actually told me on several occasions that he is mucking up because he is not interested in sitting down to dinner and wants to provoke me into asking him to leave the table).

Maybe it's just practice and I just need to keep a diary to remind myself that we are, indeed, making progress.

The booster seat/cutlery isn't part of the equation in this case - already been there, done that.

Perhaps getting more input from him before the meals is something that will help improve things as I do find he has difficulty making transitions (technically he is supposed to help set the table but in reality I have not been enforcing this).

And I am optimistic that when we temporarily remove school from the equation he will improve more or less automatically, as he won't have already spent a big chunk of the day sitting still at a table. So that will be an interesting experiment.

I am also going to make a note of the amount of exercise he gets vs his behaviour at dinner time. He does seem to need an awful lot of exercise and I know it has helped in other areas (and I do try to wear him out). I will also make a note of how much alone time/one on one time he has and how that affects his behaviour as he does seem to need a fair bit of this to recharge and rebalance.

But if anyone has any other suggestions that would be great.

QUOTE
And - personal bugbears - I would add, during meal time, there is no TV on, there is no use of electronic devices, there is no answering the phone, there is no reading of books. Actually relate to one another!
Yes, me too! There are no toys, no TV, no devices or books or etc allowed. Although your post has made me wonder if I should put on some dinner music. DS has always been very responsive to music and in other situations can be calmer and more focussed with something playing. So I must remember to try that as well.

Edited by beabea, 17 May 2013 - 12:24 AM.





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