New research from online furniture retailer, furniturechoice.co.uk, reveals the average age children in London learn basic table manners, compared to expectations from parents and parenting experts.
The average child reaches school age (four years old) before being able to use a knife and fork correctly and in London, this age is four, which is a year younger than the average parent believes it should be (five years old). However, parenting expert Alexandra Kremer says children as young as a year old can learn how to use a knife and fork effectively.
When it comes to specific dining situations, however, parents in London are less concerned about ensuring their children use a knife and fork in school (31%), in comparison to 34% of parents in the UK.
This comes as no surprise as 32% of London parents say they aren’t conscious about their child’s table manners between the ages of two and eleven years old, while 23% simply don’t care how they eat their food, as long as it’s eaten.
The top ten foods parents in London allow their children (aged between two and eleven years old) to eat with their fingers are:
- Chicken Nuggets
- Fish Fingers
For parents whose children are struggling to learn how to use a knife and fork correctly, Alexandra advises, “Children generally learn from modelling the behaviour of those around them, so will quickly pick up on any social cues they are exposed to.
“If you want to teach a child to learn how to use cutlery from an early age, one of the best teaching methods is Baby-Led Weaning. This includes giving children as young as six months old solid foods and giving them the chance to learn how to bring them to their mouth, as well as chewing the food.
“If a child is struggling to learn this skill, a good way to combat this is to make it fun. This can be tea parties with their toys, or just letting them practice at mealtimes without any expectations. Be sure to be a part of their meal times so they can learn from your example. For older children, however, make your expectations clear but without punishment. Children understand more than we give them credit for, so don’t worry, they’ll be a polite dinner guest before you know it.”
Tom Obbard, Managing Director at Furniture Choice adds: “We wanted to highlight just how old the average child is when they pick up basic dining skills such as using a knife and fork, compared to the expectations put upon them by parents and experts. As the data shows a much later age than experts say is possible, we wanted to work with parenting expert Alexandra, to help parents encourage their child’s development in this area and show those who are struggling with their child’s eating habits that they’re certainly not alone.
“It’s also particularly interesting to see parents are less concerned about their children using correct table manners at school compared to other social situations such as at home or at a friend’s home, as well as a good amount choosing to pick their battles and just being happy the food is being eaten.”