Teaching Kids Good Table Manners

Children aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths where it comes to being well versed in the art of table manners. They have to be taught, instead, to do things like ‘use that spoon’ to take a bit of food and put it into their mouths. Whether it’s opening their food-laden mouths or burping at the table, they won’t know these behaviors are inappropriate unless you tell them. The good news is, you can teach children under the age of 5, how to behave themselves – and stick to those habits in the future!

The Benefits of Teaching Kids Good Table Manners

How important, really, are those table manners?

  • They are an important developmental milestone. When kids know they can manage themselves, they feel like responsible and capable human beings.
  • It fortifies their character. According to Forbes magazine, proper etiquette is a matter of character.
  • It helps them create solid relations with people. Almost everyone likes to be treated with respect, and simple things like table manners can go a long way in helping them create long, sustainable relationships.
  • A lesson in patience. Patience is one of the essentials of sound table manners. Inculcating that sense of patience will hold your children in good stead in all facets of life.

Teaching Kids Good Table Manners

Here’s a list of the best ways to sharpen those table manners for kids.

Washing hands before coming to the table

Good table manners for kids include lessons in cleanliness

The Why: Kids have to be told politely that eating without washing their hands is a strict no-no. Explain to them that they can catch all those harmful germs and bacteria if they don’t.

The How: You might consider placing a small step by the sink, so it makes it easier for them to come with glistening clean hands to the table.

Offer to help

One of the best ways to teach table manners for kids, is to get them to be your little helpers.

The Why: Tell your child it will make your life a whole lot easier, if they could help you with dinner prep.

The How: Ask them to help get dinner ready. It’s really that easy. Children love helping out more than you can imagine. Whether it’s placing napkins on the table or assisting their mothers in giving the final touches to the food that is to be served, you will find them eager to help.

No Electronics at the Table

Table manners for kids and electronic devices don’t make for a good fit. Even if that screen helps to keep them at the table when nothing else works!

The Why: Explain to your child that they will miss out on that sense of ‘togetherness’ at the dining table, and that furthermore, it is disrespectful to be staring at their screens when everyone else is engaged in meaningful conversations.

The How: Ensure all mobile phones/iPads, etc. are placed in a plastic box, before you sit down at the table. That includes yours, too!

Asking to be excused

Being polite extends to the end of that meal! One of the most important table manners for kids.

The Why: Tell your child that leaving the table abruptly, even if they are finished, is very rude.

The How: Let them know that saying something like ‘Can I be excused, please?’ is the next best thing to staying at the table until everyone has finished their meal.

Saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’

Words of gratitude are amongst the best ways to teach table manners for toddlers.

The Why: Tell children that they must be grateful to eat food when so many children are starving the world over. They need to be courteous, too, when asking for things at the table.

The How: Have your child utter a few words of thanks for the meal they are going to be eating. Tell them that every time they ask for something on the table, they should use the word ‘please’. Like, ‘Please pass the potatoes, Daddy!’

No Interruptions

Table manners for kids are best learned through the art of effective listening.

The Why: Tell your child that they wouldn’t like to be interrupted when they are discussing something that’s on the top of their minds, right? Neither will anyone speaking at the dinner table!

The How: Ask children to wait their turn to speak. When they respect what others have to say, people will listen to them keenly, too, where it comes to things like how their day was and anecdotes about their friends.

Don’t talk with your mouth full

Dining table manners for kids are best imbibed through small doses… and bites!

The Why: Tell your kid that it’s not pleasurable to see someone open their mouth wide with food in it; nor is it nice when that food is sprayed across the table as they talk.

The How: Tell them to take small bites and to never speak when they are eating. They have to ensure they chew properly and swallow their food, before they can say something.

Helping clear the table

Good table manners for kids can be seen not only at the end of the meal, but after it is finished, too!

The Why: Tell your child that it’s a lot of work to bring food to the table, and that anything they can do to help clear afterwards, will be highly appreciated.

The How: Make them see that they don’t have to do all that much; even going so far as taking their cup and plate to the kitchen, goes a long way in showing their kindness and gratitude.

 When you teach dining etiquette to your children, what you are doing is laying that much-needed foundation for their blossoming into fine individuals in the years to come. Table manners indeed begin at home! Make sure you use all the tips enlisted here, to bring up your child as someone who treats the people around them with the utmost sense of respect. Visit EuroKids for more information.

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