I was visiting with a friend the other day and she was asking for tips on how to get her four year old to sit through dinner. My answer was practice and repetition.
Consistency is also helpful. Each week, make it a goal to pick at least one day (more if possible) when you will sit down as a family to the dinner table. Yes, the actual dinner table – not in the car (yes, we’ve all been there), or at the kitchen island, and definitely not in front of the TV. Ask your kiddos to help with setting the table, it doesn’t matter if they get all of the silverware in the right place, you’re starting with the baby steps of practice and repetition. You’re setting the stage, for family time where many more lessons can easily be woven into the dinnertime conversation.
Something else I find helpful is that I try to make it a point of ‘reminding’ our son what’s expected of him before we do something. Do I still have to prompt him? … Yes. When we’re eating at home, does he still get up every once in a while out of the blue for some random reason? … Yes. But I know one of these days our persistence will pay off.
Not only do we need to practice table manners on a regular basis, we need to practice all of the mannerly basics like being respectful. Take time now to practice all of those ‘little’ things that make a big difference in character. It’s tough duty raising kids, and as parents we want nothing more than to raise well-rounded, respectful children and send them out into the world prepared. So in between scheduling practice for baseball, soccer and gymnastics, make sure to carve out some practice time for the soft skills that will carry your child through the rest of his or her life.
As much as we all would like to believe that it only takes one time of being told how or what to do – reality is, it takes a few times to actually ‘sink’ in. So turn off the technology, get ready for some good old-fashioned family ‘face-time’ and practice, practice, practice.
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