TABLE MANNERS FOR KIDS
Teaching children table manners early makes the work a great deal easier and more successful than waiting until they are older. The most important thing to remember is that children pay more attention to what we do than what we say, so begin by being a good example and practicing good table manners yourself.
Practicing good table manners at home teaches children that good manners are universal and not just for dining out or eating at a friend’s home. If you expect your children to use good table manners all the time, and are consistent about it, it will not be nearly as difficult for them to do so in a restaurant or when guests come for dinner.
Children are eager to learn. As in all things, it is best to begin with the basics, such as how to use a fork, a spoon and a knife correctly and asking to be excused from the table when they are finished. Make such behavior the expectation at each meal. Encourage children as they learn each new skill and they will be keen to improve.
- Give them a reward to work toward. For example, tell them that when they learn to behave well at the table and use their utensils correctly, you will take them out to eat at a restaurant where they can show off their newly acquired skills.
- Teach table manners through games, such as seeing if they can remember where all the pieces of a basic place setting go.
- Have a special meal, one-on-one or with both parents and each individual child, where you prepare some of their favorite foods and all use your best manners.
- Have little tea parties where you children and their guests are expected to be well-dressed and on their best behavior; use the occasion to teach them about good table manners in this special environment.
- Arrive at the table with clean hands and face
- Place your napkin in your lap right off
- Start eating when given the okay by your host, or when everyone else does
- Sit up straight and stay seated
- Keep your elbows off the table while eating.
- Chew with your mouth closed
- Don’t talk with food in your mouth. If you have to wait until you’ve swallowed before answering a question, that’s fine
- Don’t criticize the food
- Ask for food to be passed; say “Please” and don’t reach
- Talk with everyone at the table
- Don’t make rude noises such as burping or snorting
- Ask to be excused when finished
- Thank the person who prepared the meal
- Offer to help clear the table
~ Emily Post’s The Guide to Good Manner for Kids, by Peggy Post & Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D.