Chewing Concern: When your child eats too loudly

by epi on April 6, 2012

Q: My 14 year old daughter who has wonderful people manners, has recently developed very loud eating habits. It has become worse. Sometimes she chews with her mouth open, sometimes she makes very loud chewing and smacking of the lips and mouth sounds. Right now, I don’t know anyone who eats as loudly as she does. I have tried to get her to slow down her eating but it has not helped the loud eating sounds. I do not know how to discuss this with her. I am also concerned that the wrong teenage boy in her school could mock her very severely. A thing like that can hang on a 14 year old for a long time.

A: Of course you don’t want to upset your daughter but as her parents you and your wife have an obligation to tactfully tell her that it’s inappropriate for anyone to chew with his or her mouth open, to chew noisily and/or make other sounds while eating. You may tell that you love her but you would hate to have her poor table manners take away from the wonderful person she is. Being honest but tactful should not break her heart. Yes, she might be upset at first but, hopefully, she will appreciate that your honesty and concern is really for her one good and not meant to hurt her feelings.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ames April 6, 2012 at 6:54 am

I have noticed that when my nose is stopped up, my allergies are flaring, I sometimes eat with my mouth open. Otherwise, I can’t breathe :)
Just a thought.

I’m not sure about the sounds, tho.


Aloicious April 6, 2012 at 8:41 am

My roommate is a major offender of eating loudly. He is 27 years old and I cannot eat in the same room as him. On a side note, neither can any of our female friends, and he has been single the entire time I have known him. It is not a case of allergies, although I understand exactly what you are talking about… When that happens to me, I usually explain to the folks around me that I have allergies or a cold, apologize for my impending rudeness, and cover my mouth with a napkin while I chew, as quietly as possible. I am very sensitive to loud eaters.

It is a kindness to your child to teach him or her proper table manners. God forbid, she or he go to a business meeting over a meal, and he or she eat like that! It is advantageous to her, as well the people around her (including yourself), and truly a major favor to her for you to help curb this offensive habit now.


Vanna Keiler April 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

At 14 years, young adults are very sensitive and self-conscious about themselves as they adjust their behavior to adulthood, and helping your child out with basic table manner advice and instruction would be doing her a kindness, especially when, as EPI staff pointed out, she could be ridiculed at school. She may not be aware of what she is doing or how she sounds, preoccupied in devouring a delicious meal. Also, when we eat alone, sometimes we may eat quite differently from how we would eat in polite society, and a few pointers could go a long way. For example, a gentle “Honey, in public we don’t eat with our mouths open. Imagine how that looks to the person opposite you. Also, we try to minimize sounds we make when we are eating.” and then move on to other topics to minimize any embarrassment (if the child looks mortified).


Rusty Shackleford April 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

With adolescent children, it may also be an ENT issue. You may want to take your child to the Dr to rule out any medical issues.


Jerry April 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Is this a serious question? Have we fallen so far that parents are really questioning whether it is appropriate to teach their children how to behave politely?


Karen April 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Jerry, I think the parent was seeking advice as to HOW to bring up the matter with the child. Not whether it should be done at all.

I agree that it’s probably not a medical issue, but as her parents, it’d be smart not to rule that out entirely if the behavior continues.


Jerry April 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Direct communication: “Honey, you may not realize it, but you’re eating really loudly. You need to correct this. Otherwise people aren’t going to want to eat around you.”

But I reiterate my earlier disbelief that this is even a question.


Patricia April 9, 2012 at 8:25 am

I also have a daughter whom is experiencing the same issues with her son. Raised in his earliest years by his stay at home father, who also has the same problem. We simply remind him of his error at each meal politely and we have noticed his improvement.
My grandson, 7yrs old, has secreatly shared with me, “my food tastes much better when I can smell it in my mouth” inocencence and honesty explains it all. FYI


Zakafury April 9, 2012 at 9:25 am

She “recently developed” this problem as an adolescent. There is probably an underlying cause. Perhaps she just got braces and this simply hasn’t dawned on her dear father.

Presumably she knows that we eat with our mouth closed, and she doesn’t realize she isn’t. Bring the topic up directly, but don’t assume open with anything accusatory.


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