Unmannered Child, Concerned Grandmother
How can she help him without being an interfering nag?
A concerned grandmother is unsure how to teach her grandson some table manners without being an interfering nag. See what advice advice columnist Amy Dickinson says in this edition of “Ask Amy.”
I am facing a dilemma: My 9-year-old grandson needs to be taught some table manners!
He doesn’t use the napkin given to him, doesn’t know the correct way to use utensils, he licks his fingers, and if he likes a particular food, he cleans out the bowl.
I have never given my son and his wife advice on child-raising.
I don’t think it is my place. I do think my son is a loving and dedicated father, who is touching most bases. But on this issue, Dad isn’t doing a very good job.
I know you’ve written in the past that grandparents should not intervene unless it is an issue of safety, but I think this child’s poor table manners will haunt him in adulthood.
Otherwise, he is a smart, kind, wonderful and curious boy.
There is a big difference between intervention and influence.
Grandparents have countless opportunities to be positive influences on their grandchildren, in part because of the quality of time and attention that grandparents devote to their grands.
Nine-year-old children are at an ideal age to learn new skills, and most children this age LOVE to learn to cook. The next time your grandson is with you (alone, not with his folks), introduce him to the kitchen. Make tortillas together and have a taco meal, or put together personal pizzas. Let him peel and slice a cucumber for the salad. Does he want brownies for dessert? He can follow directions on the box and make them himself. (For more ideas on recipes for kids, check foodnetwork.com and/or watch “Chopped Jr.” together.)
While your meal is on the stove, show him how to set the table – show him which utensils go where. Can he guess where the water glass goes? Why does he think it goes in that spot? (So he can reach it with his right hand.)
My overall point is that your grandson will see that he has a stake in the meal, and in how it is eaten. While he is eating, you can praise his efforts and give him some more tips and occasional reminders. When his competence improves, notice and praise him.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a concerned grandmother to a DNA surprise. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2022 by Amy Dickinson