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Your 7-year-old now
Teaching table manners is a long process and one that usually involves many years of prompts. What your child is ready to learn now, if he doesn't know it already:
- Wait until everyone is served before starting to eat.
- Put your napkin in your lap and use it only to wipe your mouth.
- Don't comment about the food you don't like.
- Put only as much on your fork or spoon as you can easily fit in your mouth.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Try not to slurp.
- Use a knife and fork to cut food.
The best way to teach is as these situations naturally come up during a meal. If you model the correct manners (and sometimes gently nudge), your child will eventually catch on.
Your life now
A discipline strategy that works well in the early primary years is the "re-do." Have you ever wished you could take back something you just said or did? That's the principle of a re-do.
Use it when your child slips up and says or does something disrespectful or goes against house rules. For example, if he tosses a wet towel on the floor right in front of you, instead of nagging him to pick it up, simply say, "Re-do." (Explain this concept before you use it the first time.) Your child sticks out his tongue at you? Say "Re-do" and he may go for a hug instead.
Seven-year-olds are still highly impulsive. The re-do gives them a chance to redirect their behavior and ups the odds that they'll do it right the next time, without nagging or prompting.
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