How do you teach children to eat without making a mess?
The crumbs and messes from my 5-year-old are epic!
The eternal question! I have a 2, 3, 5 & 10 year old. I'm not sure I could tell you what we did that was effective. I can tell you though, that my 10 year old can still leave a chair full of crumbs, depending on what he is eating.
You're already teaching them when they see you clean up after them. Let them know that cleanliness matters; however, please let them enjoy mealtime without nagging or threats. Be patient! When their motor skills are developed enough, have them help pick up after themselves and reward their efforts with praise, at least. Some learn faster than others; they all be inspired to do a good job by the time they bring home that special someone. Hopefully much sooner! Good luck.
You have to realize that small children do not have the small muscle cooridination to really handle forks and spoons like adults do, so you cannot expect them to be little adults. In other words, don't put expectations too high! I have found the best way to teach them to be neat, is to show them. When a mess is made, help them clean it up (even adults make messes). When they are finished eating, help them wash up. Eventually, with patience, they will get to the point that they do not make as much of a mess. When having a meal, I think it is better to concentrate on making the meal enjoyable rather than "harping" on them to be clean.
Help them to learn to clean up the mess themselves. It's a good way to teach them some responsibility. Show them where to find the right sponge or cloth, and teach them to wipe up the mess.
Age will take care of the messy eating, just show them the basics then relax and let maturity do the work.
They will be messy. Teach by example, and my advice....get a dog. They are great for cleaning up the floor under the table
Start while the children are young. First set a good example for them to see while they are still young. Once they start eating by themselves, they will know how to handle spoon, fork and knife. The best way to teach them not to make mess is to let them see you eat properly. If they make a mess then teach them to clean themselves. Of course all kids make a mess because they are still too young. Let them learn by showing them proper meal manners and let them learn by doing.
By doing so yourself. Eat in a tidy fashion and be the narrator of your actions and thoughts. When you are finished eating explain how you are cleaning up and why you are cleaning up. If they are old enough (by which I mean walking and able to do a pincer grip) then have them help you clean up.
Children learn by example, and they see more than we think. If you verbalize what they may not see or understand then it contributes to their learning. They won't be tidy eaters over night but they will pick it up eventually.
Just remember you cannot get upset about something they do if they have seen you do it, beware they will notice! Everything you do teaches them what to do.
You can't. Learn to enjoy the mess. And now I have to flesh this out so it will be long enough, but I had nothing further to say so I'll just add, with myself, if I think how bad it is it will be so. If I go in positive or at least neutral I'll say, "This isn't so bad."
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