We used to get a smack for this but now it’s normal 189



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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.

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.

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  1. My husband and I ran a pub whilst our 3 kids were growing up. We often ate in the public dining room and they were taught to use cutlery correctly and table manners were instilled from an early age. This has given them an understanding and love of ‘dining’ which they have in turned passed on to their children. We happily take our grand kids aged 10 and 7 out to dine without any fear of misbehaviour or mess. It’s a joy for us to do this. They also eat real food. No bowls of chips for them….

    2 REPLY
    • Hate eating with toddlers grabbing my bag under the table having a tantrum on the floor and screaming throughout the meal. OK I am not always a grouch, just like to enjoy my meal,..I had three children in quick succession yet by the time they were walking and able to understand I took them out, they had a milkshake they shared, between three glasses,(wasn’t I mean?) and sat at the table, no screaming, and they knew just from the look I gave them when to back off! My children all learned how to eat in public early and have a real appreciation of good food and wine. It stands them in good stead now.

  2. Table manners are definitely NOT gone and our grandchildren definitely know how to eat at the dining table. Please, thank you and may I leave the table are all part of eating a meal as a family group. If children are taught a few basics about how to conduct themselves it stays with them for life. Having said that; there are many occasions when we eat in front of the telly without knives and forks or plates.

  3. There’s nothing wrong with a bowl of hot chips if it comes with meat and veg. We try to stop our grandkids from grabbing something quick when they get in from school (not always possible when they’re starving according to them!!!! We always eat evening meals together the whole family it’s a given no choice for kids. We are staying with our daughter for a few months.

  4. Always made our kids use manners, always dined at the table & now our grandchildren do the same. Their parents, thankfully, are instilling in them basic courtesies.

  5. Yes most of our grandkids , have most of the basic And if I do say so my self they all eat meals at the table most night

  6. It is totally natural and healthy to sit on the floor and eat with your clean hands.

    6 REPLY
    • Yes, if you’re having a one off “picnic” indoors, but I certainly wouldn’t make a habit of it for all the reasons stated in the comments so far. Main one being the learning of table etiquette and manners for social eating. Not to mention the bad posture tendencies when eating on the floor.

    • Jan for you sitting on the floor may be the only place you can eat if your in a tent! Obviously you do not have manners yourself I have always been told” like breeds like! Monkey see Monkey does!”

      1 REPLY
      • Oh this was rather un-called for. Please respect differences

    • Yes so true you are not teaching your children any manners in table etiquette by sitting on the floor and eating with their fingers. It is also very bad for your digestion they could end up having digestive problems later in life. It’s so nice anyway to see children sitting at a table eating with fork and knife and asking to be excused when they want to leave the table, thank goodness there are still a few out there such a pleasure to see.

    • Has anyone seen how many germs are on a floor. YUCK YUCK.

    • Ok, I think we need to look at which culture they are from as in some cultures sitting on the floor and eating with your fingers is the normal way to eat – and some kids will do this at home. Hard for them to then be sat at a table with cutlery to use.

  7. We often used to go to our local RSL for dinner but have now stopped because of the uncontrolled children who do not sit at their table but play chasing around all the tables, their table manners are an embarrassment eating with their fingers throwing food and the yelling and screaming, and the parents doing absolutely nothing to control them, a disgrace

    3 REPLY
    • Believe me sometimes i love to give a smack to those children right on the bottom and say “sit down you spoiled brat!! But then I just drink my water!! 😉

    • Yes I know what you mean. There is nothing worse than going out for a quiet evening meal and having children running amok through the dining area shouting and playing chase. One waitress nearly fell over with a tray of hot food once when some children came charging passed her where is the health and safety issues here?? They should bring in kid free nights.

  8. it is lazy parenting and it is not just confined to table manners, I have lost count of the times I have been in supermarkets and seen children toss their bodies around and screaming at the top of their lungs because they want some item or other, the parents just ignore them. My mother would have had a stroke if I had done that, she said children are made to be seen and not heard. It is bad mannered and the parents are to blame..not the children

    4 REPLY
    • My son used to do that. I just ignored him. When he didnt see me he would come running. He only ever got something when he used his manners and wasnt so frustrated at the time. He was hyperactive. Some people need to really think why these kids are like that and its not always the parents fault.

    • I was told to medicate him. I chose NOT to. He is 31 now in a good relationship and am very proud of him. He has come such a long way and I was there for him and I was also a single parent doing it tough but I never complained just got on with the job

    • Your right Marina but today it seems all children must be hyperactive, I see it all the time, kids have this high pitched scream that go right down to your bones, there mum’s should say enough. I am not a doctor and its hard for me to tell a naughty child from a hyperactive one

    • I think many of the parents just do not discipline their children with all these “rights” the children have. I do not advocate hard slapping, but a gentle smack may do the job – if not maybe ignoring them is the answer. My 3 year old son only once threw himself on the floor because he wanted a sausage roll. I told him that he could have it when we arrived home and that he wouldn’t have one at all if he remained on the floor and misbehaved. It did the trick and he never did it again. Some children are genuinely hyperactive (due to all these additives in food and drink I suspect) but many use it as an excuse for their child’s bad behaviour.

  9. Have these folk misunderstood.!!!!!!!! I didn’t think you were talking about manners….More to the point that the child is….. LEFT HANDED….. My brother got it SMACKED out of him by the Nuns ‘ who knew S F A’

    1 REPLY
    • Although right handed myself, I never understood why lefthanded people were wrong – can remember a classmate being told to eat ‘properly’ (meaning right handed) at school lunch!!! Baffled me for quite a while …..

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