Teaching Children To Eat Properly

Child not showing table manners
                                                          Little things affect little minds.”  –  Benjamin Disraeli

As this famous saying goes, we as parents turn out to be role models for the children, affecting their little minds by whatever we do. Teaching children is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Children are quick to make out how we react, act, deal with different situation or things.

How and what the children eat depends upon what has been taught by their parents. The healthy or unhealthy habits, likes and dislikes, table manners, correct posture, and the general mental attitude towards food, depends solely upon the children’s upbringing. It all comes down to what we teach children – isn’t it?

Various cultures may have different ways of eating food. However, teaching children the right way is what really matters. Generally, the family gathers around the dining table, sits together, and enjoys the prepared meal. The plates, napkins, forks, knives, spoons etc are laid out, followed by the food being served.

Teaching children to eat properly thus begins when the children are infants, where they observe each step you make while eating food. It could be the way you take a bite into your mouth, chew with your mouth closed, eat slowly, sit erect etc. Thus, we are the role models of our children.


How to Teach Children to Eat Properly

What needs to be taught to the children, right when they are infants, to the time they learn to eat properly could be chalked out as under –

  • Wash your hands and sit erect on the dining table, without any other distractions like the TV etc.
  • Pour small amounts of food at a time, and ensure whatever is taken in the plate is finished.
  • Use a fork and knife whenever needed.
  • Learn to use the napkin properly.
  • Take small bites and chew the food properly, with your mouth closed.
  • Do not speak with a mouth full, and avoid speaking too much while eating.
  • Avoid taking water in between meals.
  • Do not discriminate the food, and make faces at the food served.
  • Learn to take a serving of every dish that is served on the table.
  • Use the polite words like ‘thanks you’, ‘please’, ‘sorry’, whenever needed.
  • Help serve others food and water around, while you are served food or water.
  • Do not lick your fingers after finishing your food; instead wash your hands after your meal.
  • Learn to keep your fork, knife, and napkin properly after your meal.
  • Wait for everyone to finish their meal before getting up.
  • Learn to excuse yourself from the table in-case you are getting up before the others have finished.
  • Leave your chair without making a noise or disturbing others.
  • Help clean and clear up the table. Help parents store the leftovers in the refrigerator.
  • Lastly learn to appreciate and thank your mother, cook, or whoever has made the food.

Children are never too old to learn. The teaching process should continue and we as parents need to help them learn the correct eating etiquette  Once you teach children to eat properly, it will be beneficial for them when they dine in hotels, restaurants, in school, or when they are with friends and relatives.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham Lincoln.

Just as Lincoln has said, we as parents have to take charge of our children and make them into well mannered individuals, to be able to face tomorrows world with confidence and courage.

Over to you

Are you good at teaching children to eat their food or meals properly? What do you do to make them learn the right ways? Share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Anita Patterson

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  1. Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive and insightful article about the role of grandparents in the family. It highlights the various ways in which grandparents can contribute to the lives of their grandchildren. Personally, my grandparents played a crucial role as mentors, nurturers, and spiritual guides. Their wisdom and unconditional love greatly influenced my upbringing.

  2. Someone eating with their mouth full is a pet pev of mine. I was fortunate enough to have had parents that taught me how to eat properly. With that background I often forget that there are those who didn’t have that discipline demonstrated in their lives. I have to be understanding of the differences in others in respect to behaviors that I may not agree with.

    1. Glad you could relate to the post Joshua!

      You were indeed fortunate to have parents who taught you table manners, as well as how to eat properly. Everyone isn’t as lucky, and yes, we need to understand this fact, and try and accept it. I guess we just count our blessings and feel lucky that were taught all such things when we were young – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. I love the quote from Lincoln at the end!

    I have a niece and nephew and when they come over I am in charge of getting them to eat their food and that my friend, is the biggest challenge. They will follow all the rules of washing and cleaning and hygiene; the only part which they miss is putting the food in their mouth. My sister has been stern about it because the son is very weak and hates food of any kind! But yes, the true challenge remains in getting the food into their tummies.

    I feel children learn through example. One thing I have seen my sister do is have food along with them. Since they reached the age where they are capable of putting the food them in themselves; she has taught by example. And children pick up very quickly on that! Like you say, family dinner time makes all the difference! 🙂

    1. Glad you could relate to the post Hajra!

      I can well understand the challenge you face when yo have to feed kids that young!! I can visualize and just smile at the thought of you running after them to feed them, or diverting their attention to other things so that you can get something into their tummy’s! 🙂

      I used to have a tough time too with my kids when they were young, and had to try out various things that were nutritious enough for them- just so that they would eat. But they ate what was made, or perhaps it was made a little differently for them. However, as they grew up, I got them used to sitting on the dining table and eating what everyone ate. And now I am glad there are no more fuss about food from their side!

      Yes indeed, kids learn best by watching their own parents and love to do what their parents do. If you as a parent never sit on the dining table, or don’t eat properly, be sure your kids will follow you!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone. 🙂

  4. Yes agree with the above comment. I have actually just finished an article for a magazine entitled ‘Have family meal times disappeared’? Will post it on my website when it is published.

    Meal times can be a real challenge when kids are young though – just had a disasterous day with my 3 year old refusing to eat and it taking about an hour to get him to. Really unlike him – but very tiring!


    1. Welcome to the blog Claire!

      Nice to learn about your blog and am sure your post would be wonderful as well. Yes indeed, mealtimes can become rather challenging with kids, unless we instill the habits in children to eat properly.

      I guess kids have their own mood swings at times and we need to make their mealtime interesting or distract them so that they have their meal, though while sitting on the dining table 🙂

      Thanks for stopping-by 🙂

  5. Hi Harleena

    I wonder how many families do still sit around and eat as a family. We always did when I was growing up but sadly I see some families just sitting in front of the tv, rushing around and not having family time.

    I always enjoyed that time around the table where I could engage in conversation with the rest of the family. Love your list, and hope others take note of how it can be done and be enjoyable too.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. Welcome to the blog Patricia!

      You are so right about the number of families really sitting and eating a meal together. I guess unless you make it a rule in your family, or make that deliberate effort that everyone collects together for mealtime or have a family time- its surely not going to work.

      We always had our meals on the dining table, I guess it was always a routine followed at our home. And we enjoyed sharing the day with each other. Similarly, we do the same with our kids, even though they want to watch the TV while mealtimes. However, we allow them the weekends for sitting in-front of the TV- and eating all that they want- so that there is a good balance of both things.

      Glad you liked the list and I hope as well that others take note of how they can make things better in their families.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

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