Entertainment parenting tips: how do I teach my child table manners?
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When small children sit at the dining table, it can degenerate into chaos. From around the age of three, you should begin to gradually familiarize your child with table manners so that the table is a little more relaxed and cleaner. But how do you best approach this educational project?
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Of course, small children should (and cannot) eat according to etiquette. But you should gradually get to know and master the following repertoire of rules:
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Hands are washed before and after eating. After eating, you wipe your mouth. Smacking, burping or boogling is taboo. Toys or coloring books have no place on the dining table. The food is not played, thrown or the table is not smeared. You sit up straight and have both hands on the table. You don't speak with your mouth full. At the table, you behave in a friendly and respectful manner. You start to eat together and stay seated until everyone is finished (this rule is something for older children!). It does not have to be eaten.
Be patient and exemplary
As you can see, these are quite a considerable set of rules that are held up to the toddler. And of course the child will not memorize all the rules at once, and may not understand some of them right away. Two things in particular are required here: patience and fulfilling the role model function. If you want to teach the child table manners, you have to stick to them yourself. The child learns through observation and imitation - and at the same time they are motivated to master the rules like their parents.
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Praise and explain
When the child begins to get used to table manners by imitation, that is already a big step. But it also has to learn to understand why these rules actually apply. So it is important to explain these in a comprehensible manner with sufficient time. It is not smacked because "that is impolite". The same goes for speaking with your mouth full. You don't play with the food "because it's meant to be eaten" ... and so on. And as with practically all aspects of upbringing, positive confirmation and praise can achieve more than scolding or even punishing: If the child is praised for doing something right, motivation also increases.
Small children learn fastest and most sustainably when they enjoy it. So you should address their play instinct - z for example by "playing" correct sitting at the table using your favorite stuffed animal or a doll. Or you can organize a small "Who spills the least" competition, as suggested on "jako-o.com". The winner can then, for example, determine the meal of the next day.
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A particularly great incentive for the child is to promote it to the "table chef". He is encouraged to pay attention to the table manners of the others and, if necessary, to correct them. With this method, the child internalizes the rules particularly well.
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