Consistency is key in teaching children table manners. When there is little or no difference between “company manners” and everyday manners, there will be fewer of those embarrassing incidents when dining out or when guests are present.
Starting with the basics when they are toddlers and gradually adding refinements as they get older makes learning—and teaching—practically painless! Children will learn a lot just from your example. A little positive reinforcement and a few gentle reminders will make the process enjoyable and effective.
Having good table manners will help your child be accepted, and feel comfortable, in the wider world. And, in the meantime, it will make meal times more enjoyable for the whole family.
Here are ten basic manners to consider and perhaps modify to suit your own family. And remember, it isn’t likely you’ll see them all on display at one meal!
- Come to the table neatly dressed, hair combed, hands and faces washed.
- Sit where you’re supposed to and put your napkin in your lap.
- Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table.
- Wait until everyone is served to begin eating, or until a parent gives permission.
- Stay in your seat and don’t leave the table without asking permission.
- Don’t make rude remarks about the food, and that includes using words like “yuck” and “gross.”
- Always say Please and Thank You. Say “Please pass the bread” instead of reaching over someone’s plate to get it.
- Use your utensils. Not everything is finger food.
- Take small bites. Stuffing food in one’s mouth is not only unattractive, it can be dangerous.
- Chew with your mouth closed, and don’t talk with food in your mouth.