Monday, May 17, 2010

Manners and Mommyhood

Lately, I've been frustrated with our kids' behavior at mealtimes. It's nothing horrific, but certainly somewhat chaotic and lacking in the manners department. Every meal left me aggravated and feeling like a bad mom.

And then it dawned on me - we haven't taught them manners and how to act. Of course, I know "more is caught than taught", but obviously there needs to be some deliberate teaching as well.

So tonight we made a list of simple rules and after we prayed over the meal we explained that we really want to take them to some neat places to eat on our upcoming vacation to visit the grandparents, BUT our manners need some work. We went over each rule:
  • Stay in your seat and sit correctly
  • Only talk when food is not in your mouth
  • Use a soft, polite voice
  • Make every word a gift
  • Say please and thank you
  • Do not play with your food
  • Eat your food
And then we showed them a jar of stones (purchased at Dollar Tree) and told them that each time we caught them breaking a rule we would have to take one stone out of the jar. If the stones are all gone before our trip then we won't be able to eat at the cool places we want to go.

Dinner was fun. Or maybe I should say dinner "rocked". Talking with food in their mouths seemed to be the biggest infraction of the night, but it was humorous to see them trying their best and getting a little frustrated when a sibling broke a rule.

It was such a simple thing, a "why didn't I do this a long time ago" kind of thing.

I have trouble remembering that all those moments of frustration are actually opportunities for teaching. Instead of raising my voice and shaking my fists I need to train and redirect, guide and explain.

Grumpily picking up all the toys after they've all gone to bed only teaches them to make bigger messes since they won't be cleaning up.

Yelling at my son because he got mad and yelled at his sister does no good. I've only reinforced what I'm trying to eradicate.

Consistency, gentleness, and patience. I'm working on it.......


  1. " . . remembering that all those moments of frustration are actually opportunities for teaching . . " I need to write this down.

  2. Good stuff. We have been working on good manners too. We also do the stones for good behavior. I love the idea of integrating the two. Didn't think of that.

  3. I like this ;) And good job for you!!!