Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dinnertime dos and don'ts - Teaching kids table manners #KraftHomestyle

This blog post is brought to you by Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese via SocialMoms.

It is really funny that I would see a blogging opportunity at SocialMoms about table manners and kids.  Just last night, I had to admonish my 9 year old for chewing loudly and with her mouth open!  I have begun to wonder if any etiquette that I teach my kids will get through.  Occasionally, though, we parents have our shining moments in front of grandparents when we do feel that our kids make us look good (rather than that we are raising a bunch of savages...)

Dinnertime Do:  Within reason, enforce the utensil rule.  We are well past the caveman era in evolution and I cringe when I see my 6 year old grab non-finger foods with his hands.  In this instance, we remind him, gently, that he needs to use his fork.  Kids are in such a rush to get past dinner - like it is a chore to bear at great inconvenience.  Good manners (and good digestion!) come with a leisurely meal. 

Dinnertime Don't:  In that same vein, don't rush dinner if you absolutely don't have to do so.  For us, dinnertime is a time to reconnect over (hopefully) good food.  It is a time to catch up on what happened at school, what's going on at work, and what our plans for the week might be.  Rushing dinner can lead to the temptation to eat with hands (in younger kids).

Dinnertime Do:  Take turns talking.  When it is a free for all, my kids tend to talk with their mouths full.  This is not only disgusting, but poor manners.  Dinner is no different than kids interrupting you while you're chatting with your friends.  One at a time is a good rule to follow and definitely encourage an empty mouth before anyone speaks.  Lead by example.

Dinnertime Don't:  Don't eat with anything other than the essentials on the table.  My table has a rule that it is clean before we eat.  That means that the drawing my son was working on before dinner has to be removed from the table and despite the eye rolling that is sure to ensue, there is no iPod or DS at the table either.  Both are distractions from what dinner is - a family reconnect.  Aside from that, spills happen and you don't want your tech items getting wet.

Above all, dinner should be as distraction free as possible.  We aim to spend at least a half an hour each night at the dinner table eating, talking and kidding around.  Sometimes we play word games (name me five vegetables that start with B!" and sometimes we even go over homework or re-hash past trips that we enjoyed as a family. 

What do you do to encourage good manners at your dinner table?  Please share your strategies below!  I love to read about what other mothers do for the same problems that I experience.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

About Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
KRAFT HOMESTYLE is a delicious, convenient and easy way to serve homemade taste without the hassle. Any of the three yummy varieties - Classic Cheddar, Hearty Four Cheese or Old World Italian – combine a rich cheesy meal with hearty noodles and crunchy golden breadcrumbs on top. It’s homemade taste without the hassle. Try it.

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