Attention Getter: Elle drew a “No” symbol on a brown paper bag.
Then I filled the bag with props: a straw, toothpicks, ice (in a baggie), harmonica (I wanted a whistle but couldn’t find mine), and the word BELCHING.
I asked the kids what the symbol on the bag meant and they said “Not Allowed” or “Don’t Do It”. We talked about what is not allowed at the table.
Before dinner was served, I passed the bag around the table and the kids pulled out the props one at a time. Then we discussed the manner that went with the prop. We kept passing the bag around the table until all the props were gone.
Manner: Toothpick– No picking your teeth at the table.
Ice– No crunching your ice and don’t put your hand in your glass and pull out ice.
Whistle/Harmonica– No blowing on your food. (Can you think of a better prop?)
Straw– No slurping your drink with your straw and no blowing bubbles.
Belch sign– No belching at the table. (A belch to me, is a forced burp. If a burp accidentally comes, say “pardon me”.)
Why: No-no’s at the table just come down to courtesy for your dining neighbors and trying to keep the meal as quiet and respectful as possible.
Practice: My kids needed the most practice on not slurping out of straws so we made Orange Julius (a favorite Sunday tradition) and drank with straws. We did our best to not make too much noise.
Thoughts: I blow on my kids food all the time and didn’t know that was a no-no until I started researching manners. I was contemplating on the topic because I am not sure blowing on your food is that big of deal. But as I thought about it, I realized it is really a matter of patience. The only reason we blow on food is because we want to eat faster than the food’s temperature allows. We can’t wait.
A lot of people think manners are not worth teaching because they are nit picky rules that don’t really matter. I, of course, disagree. To me manners are not about following rules but about developing worthwhile qualities and character. When we wait to eat until everyone is served, when we don’t blow on our food, when we don’t chomp on our ice– we are really demonstrating patience, self-restraint, respect and awareness for others. And those are the real benefits of knowing and using manners.