Like drinking water and breathing fresh air, eating keeps us alive, but it’s so much more than that! Every culture attaches social importance to food (think of weddings, birthdays and other important celebrations) and sitting down to eat together makes up a vital part of our traditions. The social part of eating is almost as important as the food.
While modern living may have speeded up, people haven’t really changed that much, and we’re starting to realise that sitting and eating together is good for us. It helps us to bond, to de-stress and even to digest our food properly! Manners and graces form part of the healthy ritual, so this month we’re looking at what happens at the table.
Sitting down to eat together at least once a day is a great way to bond the family. No matter how simple the meal, make it a festive time: get the children to pick some flowers for the table!
Teach the little ones how to pull out their chairs smoothly. While it seems simple, this is a motor skill and it’s a very good exercise.
Learning to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at the table when asking for something is the easiest way to teach children courtesy, being honoured themselves and learning to honour other members of the family. This is the most basic place to socialise little ones.
Children learn with their eyes: watching how older members of the family use utensils, serve themselves and eat different kinds of foods are all vital skills that kids pick up at the family table.
It helps children to master the concept of waiting. While all people have to wait, we don’t all know how to do it without becoming frustrated! Learning to wait your turn to be served, or for a slow eater to finish before leaving the table, teaches children that it does end – they can cope with waiting!
Children can be introduced to eating with the family at the table from a very young age – just pull up the high chair. If the children have become used to eating on their own, don’t panic! Just get them around the table this evening, and turn it into a fun game that your family plays every night.