Some time ago a woman watched passively as her kid whacked one of my boys with –fortunately– a foam yoga block on the forehead. The act was so violent that if her boy had been holding something harder in his hand when he had this explosion of temper, my boy might have needed stitches.
I was surprised the mom wouldn’t do or say anything. I told her so. She responded that she wanted her child to learn about life by “natural consequences” and that she would never make him say he was sorry if he didn’t really mean it.
I told her I believed it’s the job of the parents to teach children how to behave, what is right and what is wrong. Teaching them these things can help them avoid a lot of heartache from natural consequences. Learning how to apologize is one of many social skills a child needs to learn. “If you don’t teach your child the social graces, who will?” I asked her.
Well, the natural consequence of her reluctance to address her child’s violent behavior was this: my children lost all interest in playing with him and that was the last time we visited with that family.
Do Manners Matter?
Manners are important. Children need to learn how to say hello and goodbye, how to make introductions, how to give condolences. These are not skills that happen naturally.
What About Table Manners?
Table manners are a huge part of the social skills a child needs to learn. Manners are not learned by reading books and taking tests. Table manners are learned by repetition – the kind of repetition that only happens when you sit down with your family to eat most evenings.
I feel like I have said these things tens of thousands of times, since the boys were little:
“Don’t speak with food in your mouth.”
“Sit up straight.”
“Finish chewing and swallowing a mouthful before you put more food in.”
Now that they’re both in their teen years, it’s starting to sink in. It’s taken a lot of repetition, and a lot of patience. We’ve had to learn how to say these things lovingly, positively, so that dinner time doesn’t become unpleasant.
Why Do Table Manners Exist?
Table manners were created to give everyone a more pleasant experience at the table. No one wants to see another person’s half-chewed food when they laugh. No one wants to have to ask another person to repeat what they said because it was muffled by food still in their mouths.
Table manners is one reason, but there are many other reasons you should eat together. I recorded a video about this. Watch it below to learn why you should want to have dinner with your kids at home most days:
This week at the Feng Shui Dream Home Creation Lab we’re talking about dining rooms. Specifically, how to choose the perfect dining tables for your dining room and for the kitchen. You can join here anytime. AND you get to enjoy also the pre-recorded videos of previous topics we’ve talked about, such as living rooms, family rooms and foyers).