Teaching your toddler good behaviour during meals can take time, and patience. When they drop or throw food on purpose - don't be discouraged. They're still too little to understand what they're doing.
Mostly, toddlers want to behave in a way to gain your approval. Learning to feed themselves is a learning curve. They won’t be using a fancy dessert fork any time soon, but you can definitely teach them basic manners.
Here are a few things that might help:
- Lead by example – Your toddler will want to be like you. Often they'll learn by watching and imitating. If you and the family show good manners to one another then your toddler can see how it’s done.
- Walk them through it – Take time to show your toddler how to wash their hands before a meal, and how to hold a spoon. Remember while it might be second nature to you, it's all new to them.
- Make meal times fun – If you make meals a positive family experience then your toddler will want to join in. If your toddler feels like they are part of the occasion, they will begin to look forward to the family time together.
- Expect some mess – As your little one learns to self-feed you can expect a certain amount of mess. A large bib is good for soaking up food and you can cover the floor under the high chair with a plastic mat to help catch spills.
- Good versus naughty – Ignoring, or giving little attention to naughty behaviours can teach your toddler that misbehaving doesn't get a response. Similarly, praising good behaviours can reinforce it’s the right thing to do.
Remember, your toddler will continue to learn. Good behaviour is shaped over time so it'll take consistency and patience from you.
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