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Volume II
April 30, 2005

Teaching Children Table Manners
Fine Living Magazin

Children can be our source of joy and pride, especially as we watch them absorb life's important lessons and figure out the rules of living. We all want our children to learn to behave properly when it comes to socialization skills, such as correct table manners. How should a parent go about teaching a child proper behavior at the table?

Nicole DeVault is an etiquette consultant for New York's Plaza Hotel, and offers these basic tips for teaching your children correct mealtime manners:

A good example.
According to DeVault, having proper table manners allows children to feel comfortable in social situations because they can be confident that they know how to act and what to do. The most important way to teach a child proper manners is by example, so make sure you act like a good model and give your child something to imitate.

Keep it simple.
In terms of actual instruction, it's a good idea to concentrate on one or two skills at a time, and give the child about a week to master each one. Let your child get good at eating soup without slurping, for instance, before you move on to exactly what to do with a linen napkin.

Be realistic.
Keep your goals realistic and appropriate to the child's age. DeVault claims that there are different stages in a child's life when he or she will master different skills, and you shouldn't push a child too hard. Holding silverware properly, for example, is a motor skill, and very young kids might not be able to master it, even with a lot of practice.

Celebrate success.

DeVault encourages parents to celebrate when children accomplish goals or master certain skills. Make a goal chart and check each one off as the child accomplishes it, and consider giving prizes or rewards at the end of the week. This will make it fun for the child, and as we all know, both teaching and learning are easier when the lessons are fun.


* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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