“I don’t like this!” she whined between mouth smacking bites.
“Ewwww!” He protested, dropping his fork and catapulting sauce onto my brand new table cloth.
Please tell me I’m not the only person who hears these affirming, soul-blessing, bucket-filling words when it comes to family meals. Have manners gone by the way-side in your home, too? With baseball schedules and jobs and music lessons, the simple act of tossing together food that doesn’t come from a bag or a can seems a small miracle, much less consuming them as a family while exhibiting some semblance of grace.
If you’re resonating with this frustrating pull between busy lives and the desire to teach your kids how not to eat like a neanderthal, you might find this Dinner Rules Kit helpful. After too many evenings left me shocked and embarrassed by the lack of manners at our table, we decided to try outlining our expectations and then giving the kids a “grade” after dinner. Guess what? We’re a few weeks in and it’s working!
We spent some time discussing these rules as a family and then I went to work creating something that would be easy for kids to reference. Since our home doesn’t have a convenient place to hang a sign or post a list for us to see during dinner, I decided on the placemats.
After dinner my husband and I compare notes and discuss if each of our kids achieved our standard of acceptable table manners. We circle the number of stars they earned on each rule, but reserve the right to leave it blank [awarding no stars] if behavior is completely unacceptable [yes, sadly this has happened.]
I left a “notes” section on the bottom for extra words of encouragement or tips for improvement. Sometimes if one of our kids offers to help me prepare the meal I’ll use that space to award some “extra credit” stars.
This method has:
- …clearly outlined expectations at the dinner table
- …helped US be consistent in teaching our kids
- …helped our KIDS be consistent in trying their best
- …and gives us an opportunity to reward good behavior.
Speaking of good behavior, you may be interested to know that we sat down for a family pow-wow to plan out our rewards. That sheet is hanging on our fridge along with our “Star Jar” paper. I’ll explain both of those tomorrow! Hope you’ll come back to see how we bring this idea full-circle.
If you’re interested in trying this idea at your own table, please head over to my Etsy store to buy your own Dinner Kit!
How have you worked to teach your children good manners? What do you think is the biggest hurdle to doing so?