A recent report has revealed something we’d get a belt for when we were children – our grandchildren desperately lack table manners. I remember my grandmother leaning over the table to smack my hand if I didn’t use my knife and fork properly, and don’t get me started on what she’d do if I opened my mouth while I chewed! But nowadays, it’s increasingly more normal for children to sit in front of the TV for dinner, forgoing the need for a knife and fork. Instead, these children are using their hands to feed themselves as they sit on the floor or couch, in turn making them useless when it comes to sitting down for a proper meal.
This is something UK school principal Keira Ainsworth has seen in her classes, and she said that primary school children can’t cope with cutlery when eating school meals meaning much of their lunch ends up in the bin.
School meals are going to waste because the children simply don’t know how to deal with what is being presented to them – they much prefer their messy food at home. Staff at the Maids Moreton C of E School in Buckingham, England have to cut up food for their pupils who have little to no idea how to manoeuvre cutlery.
Miss Ainsworth told The Times: “We were shocked to discover that children did not know how to use a knife and fork and by the time the two supervisors had cut up 50 roast dinners, the lunches had gone cold”.
According to a survey of 100 grandparents, just 54 per cent of their grandchildren sat down to eat dinners with their families, down from 92 per cent when the respondents were growing up.
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Some blamed a careless attitude from parents who allowed their children to express themselves and make their own choices at meal times, while others said that parents simply weren’t teaching basic manners – only 37 per cent say ‘excuse me’ and just 48 per cent can look at someone who is talking to them.
Courtesies such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are being used from time to time, but often these are demanded in school but neglected at home. Study lead Verity Gill said ‘This survey has revealed some interesting reactions. What we’ve found is that there has been a real shift in what polite manners mean to children in modern times today compared with what was expected of their mothers and grandmothers”.
If there weren’t rules there would be nothing for kids to break, no risks to take, no scars to show for mistakes. Rules let you fly, said one of the study participants.
Do you think table manners are gone? Do you grandchildren know how to eat at the dinner table? What needs to change? Tell us below.