A Conversation for How to Teach your Child the Basics

Teaching kids to eat...

Post 1

Sho - gainfully employed again

Ah. Happy days. So, first of all remember this: kids can already eat. What we want to teach them is how to use a knife fork and spoon and then some table manners. Parents of young children have to accept that there will be either: a) mess or b) no mess.

To achieve a). Give your kid a dish, plus cutlery. (use a bib - full body if you can) cut up any big bits and spear the first piece on a fork. Then show them how you eat your food, and give them a helping hand now and again. You will be surprised how much goes in their mouths. And if not: don't give them stuff in between meals. Next time they will get more in, and so on and so on. There will be mess (bearing in mind that kids prefer "sloppy" food like spaghetti and tomato sauce). It will be in ears, up noses (and if you're lucky, none of it will be in your ear or up your nose), in hair, on the walls, on the carpet, all over the table, on the cat. Some of it you will find during the spring cleaning. But: your child will learn how to eat, because they don't want to be hungry. You can instill some table manners at the same time. Don't forget to agree (if you're not doing this alone) which manners are important (you mustn't overload a small child at this stage). So: decide which is least acceptable (ie. between eating with open mouth/talking with mouth full or having elbows on the table) ban one from the repertoire. When this is second nature to your child, bring in one more "rule".

And now on to b). I know plenty of people who look at the first nano-speck of tomato sauce on their pristine white carpet and decide that they will feed their child for ever. These people (and they know who they are) are making a rod for their own backs and deserve all they get.

Of course, there are times during the training (which lasts for anything from a day or two to a decade or two!) when more than a little "help" is needed. But think of this (and this goes for most skills) There was a time when you couldn't drive/ride a bike/type/split the atom. At that time driving/riding a bike/typing/splitting the atom seemed an impossible task that you would never learn. Now you can do it. And it is second nature. The same goes for eating/reading/writing/tying your shoelaces/not waking your parents up at 5am on a Sunday...... it can be learned! Thank goodness smiley - smiley

End of lecture according to the woman who really has to grit her teeth and bear it when her (very small) kids are at the dinner table.


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 2

Wand'rin star

If you live in a warm enough climate, do as much as possible of the first level out of doors. When they are school age, have occasional posh days at home. As a reward for perfect manners take them(individually if possible) to a posh place for afternoon tea. Or get grandmother to make super cake etc and have tea with just the one child. (My younger child (aged 8)used to go by himself to the British Embassy in Cameroon and have tea with the ambassador's wife)smiley - smiley


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 3

Barney's Bucksaws

Sho, you brought back some wonderful memories! At the time my Little Darling disgusted me, but I, too, gritted my teeth and kept repeating "he will improve, he will improve, he will - - -". We lived with the spaghetti on the dog's head, the cat lapping up spilled milk, the total bath and shampoo before the table was cleared. I just can't believe that kid can now use a table napkin, and has wonderful table manners! Until he was over 3, he seemed to need to have a hand in his mashed potatoes. At 3, he had a brand, new step-dad (poor man, he didn't know what he was getting into!), and the hand in the potatoes nearly turned his stomach. He'd been with us for several months, and a nice relationship was building between father and son, when one supper time he'd had more than enough. He POUNDED his hand down on the table, made us both jump, then calmly said "Please do not do that anymore. You're too big a boy to play with your food." Never again!! Incidently, they're very close!


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 4

Clio

Of course once you've taught your small child to eat you must be prepared for them to entirely forget this skill when they reach about age 8; at such time you have to give up and rely upon the fact that they have been taught which end of the fork to ram into which body opening. Eventually they seek to prolong their lives by using this skill. No amount of begging, threatening, wheedling, etc. will actually convince them to eat, not even if it's a carefully prepared, gourmet item (read: Happy Meal from McDonalds') that is their very favorite thing -- or at least it was until about 2 minutes before you served it.


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 5

Barney's Bucksaws

Its sure nice to know my kid was normal! I used to wonder what kind of animal I was raising!!


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 6

Sho - gainfully employed again

Oh ... I have it all to come then! My elder daughter is nearly 4 and can just about manage not to send me sky high by putting her hand in her food. The younger (2 yrs) has to eat with her hands and this includes cornflakes. Yuk! but it's good to see that generally people can manage to teach their kids to eat. etc without any major mishaps. But the dog covered in spaghetti really reminds me of the "oh I don't remember eating that" jokes smiley - smiley


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 7

Barney's Bucksaws

I have a brother, who's nearly 50, and I don't think he's sat down for a meal yet (at least at home) without spilling something. Very smart man, just clumsy. One time he really outdid himself. He was sitting beside his oldest, who at the time was a baby in a high chair. He not only spilled his own milk, but the baby's too! We joke that he's spent his whole life as a Terrible Two.


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 8

B.C.M.

I found putting down newspapers under the high chair very useful. At the end of the meal I just gathered the paper up and stuffed it into a big rubbish bag.


Teaching kids to eat...

Post 9

Sho - gainfully employed again

We have a tiled floor. Swished over with a damp cloth and everything back to ok. My kids are 3 and 2 and impress people with their eating abilities wherever we go (although at home it's usually a fight to stop them using their fingers - I reckon at that age they can have a bit of leeway)
I'm a notoriously bad housekeeper though - and the kids are often digging fossilised baked beans off the skirting board, giving them a suck and then putting them in the cat's dish!


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Teaching kids to eat...

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