LIVING, TRAVEL | May 3, 2012

Friendly to Kids: Family Stays and Teaching Good Behaviour at the Table

family stays

By design, boutique hotels try to raise the bar in hospitality. Since I became a mom, I look for services that I never considered before. A lot of hotels claimed to be family-friendly but, unless you go to a family resort, the list of family services often stops at providing a crib on request, having a video game console in the room and a few other basic things.

I never stayed at the Kensington Hotel but I like how they described their family stays with milk and cookies on turn down, children’s magazines in the room, children’s concierge services, and a list of free activities that your kids can do near the hotel.

An Unusual Complimentary Class

What caught more my attention is a new activity they recently hosted. With the help of an etiquette expert, the Kensington Hotel hosted two Petite Etiquette classesto teach children aged between five and ten a few basic table manners. I read mixed reviews about the classes with the main complaint being that some part of the lessons were old-fashioned.  Having said that, no one will complain if you arrive at a restaurant with a polite kid. I doubt that an one hour class would be the answer parents are looking for but parents may get ideas of where to concentrate the re-education of their kids.

My Views on Learning Good Table Habits

Personally, I feel that a child’s table habits education starts at birth. In our home, all members of the family leave the table at the same time. Both my husband and I want to make sure that our son knows it.

Our first goal was to teach Zack to be patient at the table.  Since day one, Zack sat with us the entire dinner. This is part of the dining ritual at our house. I believe in one simple rule: eating time is not playing time. Many nights a week, I cook a meal that my toddler son can eat by himself; he likes his independence. If he only plays with his plate or throws food on the floor, it’s the cue that he is done eating. Most of the time, his arm movements tell us that he is full. Then, my son sits in his high chair until my husband and I finished our meal. We entertain our son by bringing him a little toy and by chatting to him. So far, my technique works. I received compliments from waiters at restaurants that are not typical places for toddlers. It seems that my son likes stylish living as much as I do.

Now it’s your turn to share your insights or wishes. Do you have any tips about teaching kids good table habits? Which services make or would make an hotel stay awesome for young children? What was the best travel experience you had as a young family?

SOURCING: + photos: family stays and Kensington Hotel Petite Etiquette Class

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3 Responses to “Friendly to Kids: Family Stays and Teaching Good Behaviour at the Table”

  1. Hotels could be kid friendlier by having some stepping stools for washing hands. This could apply to lots of places.

    I believe in eating at table together and good manners. Manners may be old fashioned for some, but not for me.

  2. 2 Diane said:

    Oh Kim, congratulations, you are the type of parent that I adored when I was childless, and the type of parent I try to be now. I know it is impossible for children to sit still quietly for a couple of hours, but I also come prepared with quiet toys, a coloring book and crayons, a tic-tac-toe game, and stickers and paper are always ready in the car for when we decide to go out. My daughter’s table manners are far from perfect, but we try to reminder her that going to a restaurant is a priviledge and she is expected to use restaurant behavior, which is even tougher that at home table behavior. A quick reminder as we enter the restaurant of ‘No yelling, no running or jumping, and always use your fork’ is enough for a 5 year old. Why is it that some parents think that their childrens’ bad behavior should be tolerated by the rest of the restaurant patrons.

  3. I am so pleased to see a Mother and Father taking the time to teach their child to dine properly! Good for you! Check out the tip I posted (on my blog) last Tuesday about the letter b and the letter d. I wish someone had told me that when I had little children! It helps them (and me) always remember which is my bread plate and which is my water when at a dinner. Have a Happy Mother’s Day!