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to expect that my 8 yr old gs is able to use cutlery

(49 Posts)
milton2 Sat 07-May-11 08:20:41

Sharing a meal with him is really difficult for me as he seems unable to use a knife and fork so just shoves huge pieces of food in his mouth and bites until it becomes managable to swallow...gross..
if I say anything am told " he's only 7 " he's 8 next month.

HildaW Sat 07-May-11 15:31:58

Um......Yes, he should.

I used to teach pre-school children...and they should be able to do this by 5....if not a referal to child development was sometimes recommended.
I have a 2 and a half yr old grandson who uses his set of scaled down cutlery with pride....not all the time and not always correctly but he does try. But you are on difficult territory until his Mum thinks he should be doing it.

QuackQuackBoing Sat 07-May-11 15:46:26

Do you ever eat with him alone without his parents there? If so I would just gently say "why don't you try it like this (and demonstrate) and then you won't get sauce on your chin/it might be easier" etc.

HildaW Sat 07-May-11 15:53:09

And buy him a 'special' set of cutlery to use at Grandma's house.....make it seem like a treat!

milton2 Sat 07-May-11 16:14:45

Thanks for the responses. I think it is laziness rather than an innability, will just have to continue the coaxing I suppose.

babyjack Sun 08-May-11 23:00:44

Yes very difficult if parents think it is ok. I wonder how he manages at school, you may find he eats differently there.
My grandson is three and is still clumsy but manages cutlery - do they all eat together, maybe he doesn't get the chance to copy unless he comes to your home.
I f possible I would try and take him out alone and see what he does in a public place - you could be surprised!!

Good Luck.

Joan Sun 08-May-11 23:20:42

I think this is a side effect of all the finger food around, and of not eating at the table. I trained mine at around 2, so it was second nature in no time. This is about 26 years ago, but even then, when they were older children many of their friends couldn't use their knives and forks properly.

40 years ago a friend of mine was a brownie 'Brown Owl' and trained her little troupes to use cutlery. Their mums were grateful.

When my lads were at uni they joined the Austrian Army reserve and trained as officers, At posh regimental dinners they deeply grateful for having been taught table manners as some of others suffered a bit of embarrassment.

I don't think you'd be overstepping the gran barriers to teach them.

Pigletmania Mon 09-May-11 19:27:06

I am not a gran but can say from my experience, as a child I had dyspraxia and only learned to use a knife and fork properly at boarding school when I was 11. A girl explained it in such a simple way, that now I have no problems eating properly with cultlery. My dd aged 4 possible ASD can use a spoon and fork when she wants to, but not a knife and fork properly together. Tbh I am not worried, due to her difficulties she might be late like me. It never affected me in life, and only used them properly when I could understand how to hold the knif and fork properly and co ordinae my hands.

Pigletmania Mon 09-May-11 19:28:34

oops sorry bad typos

maxgran Fri 13-May-11 14:00:12

My daughter lets her children eat with their fingers - they are aged from 3, 5 and 8. They do use cutlery but she is laid back and doesn't mind how they eat,.. However, I do !
When they stay with us they eat properly because I tell them thats what I expect. They have no problem with this and do so quite happily and my daughter knows that I expect table manners and doesn't mind - she just thinks I am too fussy !
Its all very well her being 'laid back' but they have to know that when out socially, that other people expect better manners.

They also know in my house they do not jump on the couch or leave stuff lying around - and they comply. In their own house - they are messy !
I might add - they love spending time with us at our house.

HildaW Sat 14-May-11 11:21:33

MaxGran.....well said!
What I worry about with all this 'laid back' approach which, to be honest, is often laziness, that eventually children will be in a situation when they have to conform, obey the rules etc etc. If that happens when they are really quite old 11, 12,13 and even older sometimes, then it comes as a tremendous shock to them and they can find it very distressing. I am not talking about ridgid control and suppressing individualism or creative thought, that is hugely important to a child's development. This is much more about helping children to develop social skills and talents that will allow them to find their own place in society as they grow up. At a street party the other day I sat and watched a group of young children totally demolish a cake that had been made for it. No adult intervened as a beautifully made chocolate creation was treated as if it was a pile of play dough. They were no great age ( 5-7) but surely one of their Mum's could have offered a little guidance in treating it with respect and even offereing a slice or two around! smile

Leticia Sun 15-May-11 08:23:58

The laid back approach is laziness and it is being cruel to them not to teach them how to behave appropriately. If they have school dinners they would have to use cutlery and other DCs won't like it if they are revolting.
I would make sure that he eats properly at your house-you will have to let the rest go.

carboncareful Tue 17-May-11 16:54:48

For 15 years I've resisted showing mine how to hold a knife properly. (i.e. not like a pen). Memories of my grandmother's lessons in manners, and disapproval of all things not proper, still reverberate through the years and spoil my memories of her. I'm never relaxed with my elbows on the table!

Chyan Tue 17-May-11 18:14:23

Having lived abroad I have come into contact with various nationalities. I was at a children's party in a Pizza Hut where all the children were Indians. The family who threw the party were used to eating the Indian way at home (fingers for rice etc) but once in a restaurant their children were taught how to eat Western way. The party was really an insight into how some of the parents obviously hadn't helped their children - most around 9 years old - as they were eating salads, ie coleslaw, sweet corn, potato salad, etc with their fingers even though cutlery was provided for each child. They didn't even bother to wash their hands either before or after!

My granddaughter could certainly use cutlery by the age of 3 and I have a little girl who often comes to my house and her mother ensures she uses the small knife and fork that I provide for her. When this little girl started at pre-school after Easter her young Mum (age 22) said to the staff, "please make sure she uses her manners". The staff looked at her as though she was from outer space. "What do you mean?" So my young friend said that she must always say please and thank you because that's what she's been taught. It transpires no other children had been taught to say please or thank you.

grannymarion Tue 17-May-11 18:21:53

No you are not, tho' they're all so different. Our 9 yr old gs found cutlery difficult, but got better once he was at school. His 2 yr old brother has been using a child spoon and fork for the last year and won't be helped. Tho' it does all end on the floor if anyone crosses him!! I agree with making sure they have their own special cutlery.

gumpingsarah Wed 18-May-11 08:30:38

I do think small cutlery is the answer. My now 11 year old granddaughter loved the special set I bought her (from Ikea, not expensive). The younger twins (15 months) are just getting to grips, as it were, with feeding themselves grownup food, but having been given baby spoons to hold are getting the idea, a little randomly, it's true.Their mother is about to buy extensive table/floor coverings to deal with the chaos in prospect. The little boy will plaster everything with food while he learns, I think, the little girl is manually precise, and may be relatively neat. (Their mother is not a woman to subscribe to stereotypes, that's just how these two are.)They are fortunate, it's true that the they and the two sets of grandparents are managing to share their care until they go to nursery, and therefore have the time and inclination to teach them,
For what it's worth, my children were always exhorted to remember 'grandma manners' when they went to visit or stay, which meant saying please and thank you properly, using cutlery properly, asking to get down at the end of meals and generally behaving with decorum. I am delighted to find that the two with children of their own set real store by good manners, though I wait to see whether asking to get down will have survived!
It is hard work, it does run against the grain of some of society, but I do sense that there is a strand among the child-bearing generation who do care.

carboncareful Wed 18-May-11 11:39:22

So why are we supposed to teach our children and grandchildren just two words - please and thankyou - when they mange to learn all the other words without any special instruction????
Children learn by example - that means copying grown ups. Perhaps we should think about that when we nag our children incessantly throughout their childhood about such trivial cultural nonsense. There are so many far more important things to teach them. Discuss.

hicksygran Wed 18-May-11 11:47:01

Just a quick return to the matter of cutlery. Any suggestions about the change from baby led weaning to using cutlery? My gdaughter is 1 yr old and I am a first time gdmother. Thanks.

Do think please and thank you are important - to me it is the first sign of thoughtfulness towards others.

Pandemonia Wed 18-May-11 20:04:29

I was a very liberal parent who also believed in children learning by example - in our family adults have good manners and the children grew up to absorb the same ways. However, for all my liberality I'd take issue that manners are a mere "trivial cultural nonsense". The world mightn't be saved from destruction by a mere "please and thank you" but actually, nobody likes people who are so morally superior that they think they can be bloody rude.

carboncareful Fri 20-May-11 15:04:24

Yes, but one of the nastiest little boys I've ever come across was ultra polite.

HildaW Tue 24-May-11 13:48:45

lol Carbon.............oh they are the scary sort..........wonder what he grew up to be...?

baggythecrust! Sun 12-Jun-11 09:04:13

Just come across this thread and found it interesting because my youngest child had difficulty with cutlery until she was ten years old. We eat dinner together and we use cutlery properly. We showed her how to do it repeatedly but she still didn't/couldn't manage. She also had difficulty learning to tie shoelaces (which my elder two did at four-and-a-half before they went to school), learning to knit, and learning how to ride a bike. Her nursery school teacher mentioned a lack of what might be called 'large' coordination, though her 'miniature' coordination was extremely well-developed for her age so that, for instance, she learned to write easily and she drew intricately detailed pictures from a very early age. By age ten DD had learned to do all the things requiring 'large' coordination at least as well as, and often better than, most of the kids in her school peer group.

My theory is that, yes, her development in 'large coordination' was a little slow off the mark, but she was busy developing her 'small coordination' to a higher than average degree. All she needed was time, and patience from her parents.

In a similar vein, one of my nephews was slow learning to read. Given that he was clearly very intelligent, this was surprising. However, his father taught him to play chess and the child was soon playing in junior county championships. His reading then progressed satisfactorily and he's now doing a Ph.D at Harvard.

I think parents and grandparents are inclined to worry too much about child development these days because of our target-based approach to life. This is not to say that children with problems should not be helped but if the problem is really rather minor, then I think the grown-ups in charge of them should use their highly developed tool-using skills to cut the kids a bit of slack. This is not spoiling in my book, it's being patient, like the proverbial spider.

dorsetpennt Sun 12-Jun-11 09:56:11

My 2 year old GD has a little spoon and fork to use with her meal, she uses them plus her fingers to eat. I agree it is the advent of all this fast food to eat with your fingers has been the downfall of decent table manners. My brother had a lot of trouble with cutlery as a child and used the items in reverse - he wasn't left handed though. I went on a course with my job, it was held at a lovely country hotel near us in the New Forest. There were several lads from the shop floor who had no idea how to behave at a table, what cutlery to use and had never seen cloth table napkins. You may say it doesn't matter. But it does if your lack of knowlege makes you feel uncomfortable, as it did in this case. I whispered 'follow me' whilst we were being served and that seem to save any further embarrassment. Most of them hadn't eaten in a decent resturant only KFC, MacDonalds etc. My children and GD now were exposed to public eating at very young ages.

shysal Sun 12-Jun-11 16:05:04

I think the table manners seen on AmericanTV programmes have a lot to answer for. I once saw a US programme on etiquette, and the instructor ate her meal mainly with a fork, which I see a lot. They seem to cut the food then change the fork to the other hand and use it like a spoon. I was taught you should only do this for the last few peas on a plate.
My grandchildren do know how, but I tend to let them do their own thing. My mother used to nag a lot which spoilt mealtimes which should be a relaxed coming together of the family. I think sitting down to eat together is more important then using the correct cutlery.

baggythecrust! Mon 13-Jun-11 06:58:36

Pondering fast food and how it is eaten. Let's see, there are sandwiches (burgers in buns, pizza, good old British sandwiches, toast, etc). This type of food has always been finger food. What else? Fish and chips. Haven't had them for a while because they don't taste the same now that they're cooked in vegetable oils. I thought it was traditional to eat these from the newspaper with your fingers. We always did.
Then there's food like cold quiche — finger food.
Fruit — often finger food, but it can be spoon food in a fruit salad.
Buffet food, designed to be eaten with fingers.
Party food, ditto.

I'm running out of ideas.

So ... um ... I don't quite see how fast food, or finger food generally, can be blamed for bad table manners. Also, I don't think it's right to criticise other cultural practices which are essentially harmless, such as eating rice with fingers or cutting up all your food first and then using a fork. The fact that it isn't what one's used to doesn't make it wrong or bad-mannered. I think it's bad-mannered to whinge about it.