How to get your kids to close mouth while chewing. Here's 7 parenting tips.

Enjoying a meal with family is a time-honored tradition filled with laughter and delicious food. However for a young child, it is filled with endless rules, manners and etiquette to learn. Table manners like keeping your elbows off the table, eating with utensils and not reaching over others can be uncivil. Chewing with your mouth open is slightly more unsettling. If you have a child who insists on showing their food during every bite, then the following list of tips are for you.

1. Start small.

Changing a habit is difficult and can be stressful, especially if you are trying to change someone else’s habit. It will help your sanity if you start small. For instance, you can say for the next week we are going to focus on chewing with our mouths closed during breakfast. So for breakfast only you will use your chosen technique to remind your child to chew with their mouth closed. At lunch and dinner, however, just sit back and enjoy the meal and don’t worry about your child’s open mouth. The next week, work up to focusing on breakfast and lunch. Add dinner the third week. You can start small in many other ways as well; the bottom line is to keep it simple.

2. Set the expectation.

You probably have already told your child to close their mouth while chewing plenty of times during countless meals. This time set some expectations and a clear plan to achieve this goal. You can do this easily with a mobile chore chart. If you plan to start small, as mentioned above, then outline the incremental plan you’ve designed. Whatever technique or plan you decide on, make sure your expectations are clear and that your child understands them.

3. Set the example.

Changing a child’s behavior mostly always begins with the parent. If you want your child to close their mouth while chewing, then you must also eat with your mouth closed.

4. Make a game of it.

Get the entire family involved and see who can chew with their mouths closed the longest.

5, Signal your child to remind them to close his mouth.

This is extremely helpful when dining in public. Children don’t react well to ridicule or embarrassment. While at a restaurant or with family you can use a subtle signal to remind your child to close their mouths. You might also tell your family or meal guests privately about the signal, so they know not to react or question it during the meal.

6. Encourage your child to eat smaller bites.

It’s easier to remember to chew with your mouth closed when it’s not stuffed full of food.

7. “Swallow before speaking”.

If your child is always trying to talk with food in their mouth, simply remind them gently to swallow before speaking.