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Boys Will Be Boys… BUT…

They Can Still Be Taught Good Manners

My husband and I do not eat out very often. We were headed home around 6:30 PM, with nothing in our refrigerator to fix for dinner, when I was reminded of a nice (reasonably priced) family restaurant in the vicinity we were traveling. I suggested to my husband that we might stop there for dinner. Surprisingly, he agreed. My mouth was already watering for one of their famous hamburger steaks, smothered in onions, and served on a platter with a generous portion of home-cut fries and a fresh tossed salad. Oh – and, don’t forget the sweet iced tea, with a lemon wedge on the rim.

We were seated promptly in the dining room and at the table next to us sat maybe two or three young families with a generous serving of children sitting among them. Fortunately for us, as I would soon find out, they were in the final stages of finishing their meals. Once finished, one little boy let out a loud belch. Not to be outdone, all of the other little boys at the table decided to chime in and, before too long it became a contest of who could belch the loudest… and, the longest. About this same time, my husband and I had just been served our salads. With each successive belch, the noises became more like someone who was about to throw up. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is NOT a welcome sound to me when I am trying to enjoy a meal. My husband looked at me with a look that said, “If they don’t stop that soon, I am going to have to ask the waitress to reseat us.” Sadly, I agreed… but, I kept telling myself that their check was on the way… and, before  too long, they would be on their way out.

Other folks who were seated at tables in the vicinity of this table were also becoming increasingly aware of these annoying sounds. As I alluded to earlier, there were at least six adults seated at the table, and I am assuming that not all of these boys belonged to the same set of parents. And, do you know how many of the parents even stopped their conversations to say one word to the little boys who are now quickly approaching becoming obnoxious, instead of just rude? NOT A ONE!  YES, NOT A ONE OF THEM!! I was quickly reminded – of my mother’s “firm” stare that would encourage me rather quickly to “pull it together.” Lessons learned from my mother, while at the dinner table,  helped me to be flexible and adjust to the menu (this is your dinner, it’s good for you, eat it to be healthy), shared day in detail ( who did you talk to today, what happened, why did that happen, what did you do, and then what happened?). I would not take anything for those days. While, we didn’t have  riches and wealth, we had a mother that gave us a wealth of teachable moments.

As the group got up to leave, the mother who was seated closest to our table came over to apologize for her son’s behavior on her way out.  And, while that was very nice, I really wondered why –  especially since she was aware that the behavior was unbecoming – she had not stopped to correct him instead. After all, how can our child(ren) learn proper etiquette and behavior, if we as parents do not take the time to teach them?

With the help of adults, eating out can also be a teachable moment that help kids to develop social skills, for instance, communication– coach your kids to say “thank you, ” “may I have,” “please”, etc.,  social cues– look around you and see how everyone else is behaving, etc., eye contact– have good eye contact when interacting with the server, etc.,  self control– model the behavior you would like to see, etc.

Suggestions to prepare your child(ren) for eating out:

  • Play pretend at home prior to going out to eat.
  • Model and role-model basic table etiquette.
  • Speak in a calm.
  • Offer praise.