When our kids are babies we willingly take on the role of care provider, doing everything for them. Sometimes this role is harder for us than our kids to shake. We need to provide our kids with opportunities to learn and accomplish life skills, like tying their shoes or telling time. Building confidence is another one of those social skills and high tea is the perfect place.
How does tea time build confidence you wonder? Well it’s not so much about drinking tea but rather the experience of going out for tea.
Ever since my kids were little we have encouraged them to order for themselves at restaurants and speak-up should they have a question about the food choices. Of course it is probably easier and faster for us as parents to order for our kids when dining out but like all new skills, we need to exhibit patience. This wasn’t a social skill learned over night and it’s one my kids continue to practice, building their communication skills as well as self confidence.
Pretend play is a good way to run through life scenarios like going to the doctor’s office or flying on a plane for the first time. It can also be used to prepare the kids for dining out by setting-up a high tea experience at home with the Steep & Serve wooden tea set from Melissa & Doug.
High tea pretend can build on these skills:
Ordering from a (tea) menu. High tea is about different tea flavours from a tea menu. The little card with the set highlights 6 popular tea types that kids can order. They can review and select a flavour that appeals to them. Reviewing a menu of choices and sharing their selection with someone builds on reading, verbal communication and confidence.
Making decisions. Along with deciding on a tea flavour the menu card offers the option to add milk or sugar (1 teaspoon or two) to their tea as well as choosing a biscuit (or 2) to enjoy. Decision making is a skill that kids will encounter throughout their life. Giving that power to out kids versus us as their parent shows our confidence in them.
Asking questions. What type of cookies do you have? What does Earl Gray tea taste like? Trying to make a decision can often be aided with more information. This is where asking questions can help. Asking questions also helps build confidence. I often remind my kids that servers are there to assist guests. Ask away.
Sharing tea lingo. Yes, there are some words tea drinkers use when it comes to drinking tea. Have fun sharing these unique terms with the kids. There’s something fun about knowing and using new words, like a secret language you only experience during tea.
- Steep – the amount of time the tea needs to sit undisturbed in the water. This is to help bring the tea flavour into the water.
- Clear – tea without milk or cream (just tea)
- Hot – In the US iced tea seems to be the default when your order tea so you need to specify hot. In Canada it’s the other way around, where you need to specify iced.
- Cuppa – a tea drinking experience, a term I learn from my British tea drinking grandmother
Enjoy conversation and company. Drinking tea is not a quick experience and that’s probably why it’s usually accompanied with biscuits and finger sandwiches. From steeping and sipping, tea is meant to be savoured with company. This is the perfect time to talk with your kids, no distractions, or you can also try some of these tips we call upon when out for dinner.
Pretending to enjoy high tea at home is a great way for kids to feel comfortable with asking questions and ordering for themselves when you go out. Like every new skill, practice makes perfect and the more opportunities you give your kids to practice these skills, the more confident they will become.
Perhaps someday you can reward your child (and yourself) by letting them practicing their tea social skills at high tea, like one of my favourite spots, high tea at Toronto’s Windsor Arms Hotel tea room. A number of tea rooms also offer menu options for children to enjoy too.