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Old 05-19-2008, 09:08 AM   #1
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Right age for table manners?

I am wondering what the right age is to expect a child to chew at least 70% of the time with their mouth closed or at least mostly closed.
DD chews with her mouth open all the time. She does get chronic sinus infections so she tends to be stuffy a lot, but not all the time. It seems we are always reminding her to chew with her mouth closed and the very next bite the food is falling out of her mouth as she chews. I don't want to constantly be reminding her, but it does make meal time a little unpleasant for the rest of us.

Is she even old enough to expect this? I do not want to resort to punishment ( eating alone, after everyone else has finished) if it isn't even something that is age appropriate. Oh, it would help if I added her age, she just turned 5 in April.

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Old 05-19-2008, 10:46 AM   #2
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Re: Right age for table manners?

At 5 she can chew with her mouth closed most of the time. However, if she gets chronic sinus infections, there is a good chance that she has to eat with her mouth open often enough that she isn't really aware that she does it. But I wouldn't worry about punishment at that age for it. Just gentle reminders. My kids tend to smack when their mouths are open and if it gets bad I make smacking noises and they kind of giggle but close their mouths.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:46 AM   #3
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Re: Right age for table manners?

My DD is only 2.5, but I haven't really noticed any problem with the open mouth chewing. I'd think 5 is plenty old enough to be able to remember to close the mouth. Maybe you could work on suggesting that she take smaller bites (even if she isn't taking too large of bites to begin with, it might help her remember). Or just give her a sign, like "mouth zipped" rather than telling her repeatedly. Less frustrating for every one that way. Maybe some sort of reward or praise when she remembers would work better.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:53 AM   #4
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Re: Right age for table manners?

DS just turned 6 and I still have to remind him kind of often to chew with his mouth closed. DH has chronic sinus infection too though and you definitely know when he has one and it's dinner time and it drives me nuts, but it's understandable. I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation at all at for 5 and up though, but maybe give her a little slack because of the sinus issues. We start really teaching table manners at 2 but don't really expect that much until about 4. DH has chronic sinus infection too though and you definitely know when he has one and it's dinner time and it drives me nuts, but it's understandable.
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:13 AM   #5
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Re: Right age for table manners?

I would say keep doing what you're doing. Part of it might be from habit. Chronic sinus infections? Poor thing.
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