When I was growing up, eating dinner was a very different affair to how it is today. No elbows on the table, a napkin on the lap, and excusing myself every time I needed to leave the table were all required table manners etiquette. A lot has changed since then, and these days modern table manners seem to be more focused on iPhones than elbows! However, there are some basic table manners kinds should know and practice from an early age whether dining out or at home.
Basic Table Manners Kids Need To Learn
What’s the most common toddler reaction to not being able to reach to something they want? Try reaching a little further or start yelling for it, right? As natural as these reactions may be in very young children, it’s best to teach them to ask for it politely. Depending on their age, you can also start encouraging them to pass dishes around or across the table, too.
No Homework, Books or Laptops at the Table
Another important table manner for kids to know is put away all else at the dinner table. As desperate as we may sometimes to get our little rascals to sit at the dinner table with us, allowing them to turn the dining table into their own work/play-area during dinner won’t help when you’re trying to recreate that idyllic-looking dinner scene from a family magazine. Even if your kitchen has become your child’s homework space, make it clear that once the dinner is ready to be served, all the study manuals, pens, tablets and simply have to go.
Oh, and the same goes for their smartphone, too! If you want your child not to use their phone at the table, try to avoid checking or using your phone during dinner to set a good example.
No one expects you to teach your child the ins and outs of sliver service or the different between a crab fork and a cocktail fork (unless you’re raising the Royals, that is), but it’s imperial they learn to use a basic cutlery set.
Using cutlery also helps to develop the dexterity of their hands and fingers. Invest in child-friendly sized cutlery – that way you can also take it to restaurants to help your child feel more comfortable.
Talking While Eating
Kids are quick on picking up on things and, upon learning that dinner time is a lot more than just eating up the food, they’ll also want to take part into conversations. No matter how eager those little mouths may be to join in, you should explain to them how easily their stories lose their lure if told with bits of mashed potato spilling out of their widely opened mouths.
Explain that talking with one’s mouth full is considered rude, and set a good example by only talking between mouthfuls, or saving longer conversations for after dessert. This is one of the more basic table manners kids should know but it is so important all their life!
Burping, Belching and other Emissions
Belching may be customary after a well enjoyed meal in countries like China, but in most countries this kind of response considered distasteful, which is why your kid needs to learn to control their bodily functions at the table.
Sure, approval for your delicious, healthy recipes can’t be helped sometimes, but there are ways to prevent gassy table guests, such as learning another valuable table lesson…
No Wolfing Down the Food
Waiting to be excused is a very important part of table manners etiquette. With their ever-changing appetites, sometimes it’s refreshingly nice to see that your children are actually enjoying their meals, instead of pushing unwanted broccoli around the plate for hours, but teaching them to pace themselves during the meal is vitally important for digestion.
Eating at top speed can be very attractive to young children once they realize that, finishing their meal equals returning to their games sooner, but eating at speed could upset their stomachs later in the evening. If they are particularly fast eaters, requests that they sit at the table and chat with the family until everyone has finished their dinner, giving their bodies a chance to digest their meal!
Have you found any tried and tested training tips that work for teaching kids table manners etiquette to use at meal times? If so, please share your tips for table manners kids should know in the comments.