12 answers

How Can I Get My Kids to Chew with Their Mouths Closed?

I have 5-year-old twin stepkids who love to talk during meal time. I don't want to discourage this but I don't like food being spit all over the place. Also, when they're not talking, they're chewing with their mouths open. Help!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I think it's the kind of thing that needs frequent reminding. VERY frequent reminding!
My son really got it when we were watching a short video on table manners and they had one kid actor do an example of talking with her mouth open. He still remembers it and it was about 2 years ago. Try a little humor to make a point!

More Answers

I think it's the kind of thing that needs frequent reminding. VERY frequent reminding!
My son really got it when we were watching a short video on table manners and they had one kid actor do an example of talking with her mouth open. He still remembers it and it was about 2 years ago. Try a little humor to make a point!

Remind, remind, remind them. All 3 of my boys, 6,5,3 have very good table manners, for the most part. It does take a lot of consistency and reminders in the beginning but once they get the hang of it, it's smooth sailing! We sit down for dinner as a family every night and my hubby and I encourage dinner conversation because it gives us the opportunity to chat about everyone's day and find out what's on the minds of our children. However, as soon as someone slips and starts to talk with food in their mouth I immediately remind them to finish what's in their mouth and then they can talk and I also remind them immediately if one of them is "smacking their lips" while they are eating. I don't know if your stepchildren live with you full time, but if they don't it may take a little longer for the results you are looking for but hang in there.....just be consistent and they'll get the hang of it in no time!! Good luck!!!!

Tell them not to talk with food in their mouth or with their mouths oprn. tell them this is bad manners. if they do not listen tell them they will not get dessert. i know most kids like dessert. i am sure your husband would back you up on it.

Repetition is key with learning manners. I would nicely remind my kids that I did not want to see dinner once it was in their mouthes.If that did not work then I would move them so that they would be alone during dinner. They did not like to do that so it did not happen very often. You just have to stick one technique and keep it up. This is something they wont learn over night. Good luck.

We have a jar that the kids (and hubby! hehehe) have to put money (they use quarters from their allowance) into each time they talk with food in their mouths or chew with their mouths open. Our 5 & 7 yo boys are VERY into this and have improved their food/mouth issues immensely since we started last week. =)

You're trying to instill a habit, and that takes a long time, and frequent reminders. As so many others said, you just have to keep reminding them, "Please chew with your mouth closed." If they willfully chew with their mouths open, then they eat alone. But, I think that most children just forget. They are so excited to talk about their day that they forget.

You might also talk about cultural differences, as well. That might make your discussion about table manners more interesting to them. We have friends from Korea and from India, and it's culturally acceptable to talk and chew with a full mouth. It can be a shocker when someone tells a good joke at the table, and a head goes back and the mouth goes open in a wide laugh. Ugh. But, it's appropriate in their culture. Kids seem to love those sorts of stories.

tell them no talking with food in their mouth and if they keep then no talking whatsoever during the meal. Remove them from table, timeouts when they do

Twins and preg! WOW! I would just explain that you do not mind if they talk, but not to show you there food. Encourage them to take a bite, chew it up with there mouths closed, then say something funny, then take another bite....practice...

I had to laugh when I saw this because I have the same problem at home, only it's not that bad. The only reason it's not that bad is that all I have to do is remind my kids that they look like Mami Cuqui and they stop right away and are good for a while after (up to a week sometimes). Mami Cuqui is my mother and one of her more annoying habits is that she talks with food in her mouth and chews with her mouth open. She's been doing this since I can remember. It's actually a private joke between my husband, his best friend and I because of the time she kept eating deviled eggs in front of our friend and trying to talk to him. My kids get very disgusted with her, so when they think they're acting like her they shape up fast. Then after a while they forget. My advice is similar to what I do, tell them flat out that they look disgusting and ask them to stop. I've also told my kids that if they continue, I'll ignore them completely until they get the hint. Hope you can use something along these lines.

First, take a good look at them -- how are they breathing while they eat ? I had a 5 yr old that had constant sore throats that the DR said were viral, so they weren't ever treated. They were really an allergic response -- and while she didn't generally chew with her mouth open, the reality is that there were times when her sinuses were plugged enough that she needed to breathe through her mouth. so, just be aware of the causes.

I think you should try to make this fun. You can harp all you want, and I'm sure my mom did, in order to get us to eat nicely. But what we did when my older girls were little was to have periodic "fancy meals" -- jointly with my sister's family. Everyone dressed up and we ate at one house or the other. And everyone practiced good table manners. You could call them princess meals or something. Let the girls dress up, and make sure the food is something they like, then you dress up, too, and all of you practice good table manners. Let them know what you expect, (and if they watch the Princess Diaries, or something, maybe they could provide imput into the expectations )and let them know that if you put your elbows on the table, or talk with your mouth full, that they should notice and remind you, too. And don't get insulted when they do. It's important for all of us to be reminded. I know I've gotten sloppier about it as I've gotten older. And sometimes I think we should reinstate the fancy meals at home !! (to train me, as much as the kids !!)

If you do this, you'll find that the kids tell you that it was a memory they smile over as adults. Rituals build family cohesion, and it's just one of those things that was "special" about living in your household. When my adult girls (I have two sets -- 2 adults and 2 teens now) talk about the past, it's one of their fond memories.

the other option is to simply have them try breathing thru their noses while they chew. Don't yell at them about it initially, but ask them if they can try it -- as if it's a challenge, and respond appropriately when they accomplish it. they probably don't think about it. But once you know they can do it, and they know they can do it -- you can make it fun -- I bet you can't . . . . get through two bites without chewing with your mouth open . . etc. And provide something special -- like dessert, if they win !! The more fun you make it, the more enjoyable for them and the faster it'll get accomplished. :-)

Hi A.,

Here is a format to deal with inappropriate

When you................(describe the behavior that is offending you)

I feel..............(describe how you are feeling about the behavior you are witnessing)

In the future...........(describe what the consequences will be if he/she does not stop doing the behavior)

Pick a consequence that is doable. Tell them before you sit down to eat, what will be expected of them and show them the consequences. Such as he/she will have to go --that place-- to finish eating by him or herself .

Hope this helps. Good luck. D.

If you go to www.flylady.net & look for...I think she is called the house fairy, some kind of fairy....their is a link on the flylady site to her site. She has all sorts of web videos for kids about manners & behaviors. She has one about chewing with your mouth open where she actually demonstrates what it looks like & then demonstrates what they should be doing & explains why. It is a REALLY good video. If you show it to the kids it may help.

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