Though my daughter is only 2 years old, it’s important to teach lunchtime manners from the start so that when they head off to school, they know how to behave. That being said, teaching lunchtime manners is and will be an ongoing battle. Sometimes even us adults could use a good refresher.
Lunchtime, especially for elementary-aged children, is a very social experience. Friends sit together, compare lunches and stress about what to do at recess or what they think of their substitute teacher. I remember being the kid with the carrot and peanut butter sandwiches–a concoction my mother made, I’m convinced, to torture me.
Lunchtime is an especially important social experience in the day for kids. Awareness of proper etiquette is important for both how each child shows respect to the school and their teachers, and shows respect to their peers too. And while you may think an 8 or 10-year old should focus on just enjoying their bag of Oreos at lunch and playing with friends, the habits we reinforce early in life will stay with children into adulthood.
1. Lunchtime is for lunch
It’s important for us all to relax and enjoy our food. No one should eat as if we’re in a rushed contest for who can slurp down our meal the fastest–especially children. Lunchtime is for eating lunch–for taking the time to sit with friends and enjoy a healthy, balanced meal that will keep your child focused throughout the rest of the day.
2. Lunchtime is not recess
Kids are always excited by the freedom that comes with lunch and it’s usually around recess time too. But the cafeteria is not a playground. Children should sit at their table, on their little bottoms, and eat their meal. They should not stand and eat, or kneel on their chair and eat. And of course, these tips apply to meals enjoyed at home too!
3. Use inside voices
This is difficult even for adults at some restaurants, but always use an inside voice. This is especially tempting in a cafeteria where the sound travels and hundreds of little kids might be hollering all at one–but it’s important for your child to understand the role of inside voices and outside voices and why all meals should be accompanied by an inside voice.
4. Food isn’t for playing
If you teach your children to behave as if in a five-star restaurant, they’ll know how to behave no matter where they are eating. Food is never meant to be played with, unless of course they’re making a gingerbread house for Christmas or playing with pretend spaghetti brains at Halloween.
5. Clean up your meal
Teach your children to help out a teacher and the cafeteria staff by always taking care of their trash and cleaning up after themselves at lunch. Even at 2 years old, Mae knows that if she gets upset and throws her food, or accidentally spills her milk, it is her responsibility to clean up the mess.
6. Say “please” and “thank you”
Not only is it polite, but it helps in a friendship. No kid wants a friend who is rude and never says “thank you” if sharing snacks. “Please” and “thank you” are the basics for showing respect to peers and teachers and lunchtime is no exception!
As you may already know, I am a huge fan of the Dreamfarm brand and their Oni knife is no exception! This knife is SO perfect for making lunches in the morning. The Oni knife is ideal for everyday use–one side slices, the other side spreads, and the handle even cuts plastic wrap! It comes with a sheath that protects the blade in kitchen drawers and makes the knife ideal for on-the-go gatherings like picnics.
Speaking of kid lunches, I am loving the new PackIt Coolers, especially the Freezable Classic Lunch Box, which freezes overnight and stays chilled all day. There’s no need to stress when your child accidentally throws away the ice pack after lunch at school or forgets to bring it back home for re-freezing. Instead, the icepack is the lunchbox, which easily flattens for storage in the freezer. They come in a variety of super fun patterns and colors and a wide-range of sizes too!