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. These days modern table manners seem to be more focused on iPhones than elbows! However, there are still some basic table manners for kids that even modern children should practice. These should start from an early age whether dining out or at home.
Good Table Manners For Kids
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 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, have it cleared before dinner. They need to understand that all the study manuals, pens, tablets and simply have to go to create a welcoming dinner atmosphere.
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. Setting a good example is imperative.
No one expects you to teach your child the ins and outs of sliver service or the difference between a crab fork and a cocktail fork (unless you’re raising the Royals, that is). However, it’s important they learn to use a basic cutlery set and how to set the table in the correct way. The fork is to the left of the plate when you are facing it. The knife and the spoon are on the right.
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. Upon learning that dinner time is a lot more than just eating, 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. 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. However, in most countries this kind of response considered distasteful. Your kid needs to learn to control their bodily functions at the table. They should also know how to excuse themselves politely when needed.
Sure, approval for your delicious, healthy recipes can’t be helped sometimes. However, there are ways to prevent gassy table guests. For example, 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!
Prepare the Kids to Dine Out
One way to help make the dining experience positive for all, and set your child up for success is to prepare them ahead of time. This doesn’t mean that you should sit them down and sternly tell them that they are to behave. Instead, it means talking to the child on his or her level. Explain that it is a treat to eat out and that it is something to look forward to. Discuss the importance of table manners and how to use them at a restaurant. Maybe even practice with them.
One way to get children to listen and inspire them to behave is to keep things positive. Instead of making negative statements about what they should not do, focus on what they should do. (It’s not “and don’t forget to say thank you.” It’s “and what do we say after the waiter or waitress takes our order?” Be sure to respond with lots of approval when they correctly answer, “thank you!”) This makes children more likely to want to behave well and please you.
Conclusion- Even Modern Children Should Practice These Table Manners!
These are the basics of good table manners for kids. This table manner etiquette will help make sure they are received in a positive way as they venture out in the world on their own. Have you found any tried and tested training tips that work for teaching table manners etiquette for kids to use at meal times? If so, please share your tips for table manners kids should know in the comments.