Tuesday, August 7, 2012

10 Table Manners Your Kids Should Learn

Now Mind Your Manners!

As a child, how many times did you here that growing up?

Studies have shown that children learn manners better by example that by being preached to. Why is it that when your child doesn't pickup on some detail that we point out their faults? No one likes when people points out their faults, even our children.

It has also been shown that teaching your children proper manners is also another way of teaching important life lessons that they will use and remember throughout their life.

Too many people today view table manners as something that is insignificant. However, if more parents took the time to teach their children proper manners they would also be reinforcing other important life qualities such as courtesy, love for others and self-control.

Take the time to teach your children manners. If you need help in teaching your kids, checkout some helpful resources below.
Why are Table Manner so Important?
Table manners are so much more than about proper eating. Table manners teach some life lessons like being kind and considerate of others. In today's world, people area also judged on how they appear and how they act. Now this may not be fair but it is a matter of fact that we have to live with. Having proper table manners is one way people judge others and you don't want people to think that your children are barbarians, do you?

Believe it or not, table manners are taught as soon as your child understands what you're saying. Remember that your children are just starting to learn so they will need coaching and reminders on table manners throughout their childhood. This coaching and reminders work best with positive reinforcement.

Children will respond better by recognizing and acknowledging when your child does something right and you let them know. We also know that because your children are just learning they will make mistakes, so when your child does something wrong, do not be negative about it, instead gently tell them and better yet show them how it is best done and why.
Table Manner # 1 - Eat with a Fork
Teach your child to eat with a fork unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers. Remind your child that only babies eat with fingers and you know that they are now longer a baby.

Eating with a fork is good to teach kids at a very young age because it helps them build dexterity in the hands and fingers. Yes, I know they will make a mess but it is better in the long run to teach when they are very young. It will take time so be patient.

Table Manner # 2 - Passing food

I know that you don't want to hear your child say or yell "bread" as they reach across the table. Teach your kids how to to ask for food rather than just blurting out what they want.

Proper etiquette for passing food is to pass it counterclockwise. It should also be noted that all dishes should be passed around the table.

In all honesty, we do not always follow this rule in out house but we do make sure that our kids ask for food the proper way.

So what is the proper way to ask for food at the dinner table? The proper way to ask for food to be passed is "May I have some bread, please"?
Table Manner # 3 - Chew with Mouth Closed
I am sure you can will agree that no one likes to look over at someone and see that person chewing their food with their mouth open. I know this is one thing that really gross me out. I hate to look around a restaurant and see someone sitting next to me chewing there food like a cow..

I would also include talking with food in the mouth in this table manner lesson.

Unfortunately, I see plenty of adults breaking both of these table manners. Again, to be honest I know that I sometimes talk with food in my mouth, but only when I need to correct my children at the dinner table. But when I do I make sure to cover my mouth so no one can see the food inside.

Teach your child to breath through their nose and chew with their mouth closed. Also, teach them to wait and speak only when their mouth is not full of food.

Table Manner # 4 - Don't Stuff your Mouth Full of Food

Until about a year ago, my wife was still getting on to our kids, especially my son, about stuffing their mouth full of food. She always explained to them that they might choke. Well if finally happened. My son was eating a piece of Mongolian beef. The beef was sliced in long, thin strips. Part of the beef got stuck going down his throat and he got choked.

This really scared him and he has not stuffed his mouth since. This was an unfortunate way for him to learn this lesson. You know most of us males are hard headed and have to learn the hard way.

Explain to your children that you do not want them to get choked. Politely explain what can happen.

Table Manner # 5 - Place a Napkin on your Lap After being Seated

Teach your child to place the napkin on their lap right after being seated. The napkin is to be used to gently wipe or dab your mouth. Teach your child to dab their mouth before drinking from a glass. No one want to see spaghetti sauce on the rim of their glass, right?

My kids used to have a habit of wiping their hands on their pants so we have taught them to keep a napkin on their lap. This way they wipe the napkin instead of their pants. Plus this keeps any stains off their pants.

It is also important that your kids learn how to properly be excused from the table to go to the restroom. The proper way is to place the napkin to the left of their plate. Once finished with their meal, they should place their napkin neatly to the right of the plate (not refolded, but not crumpled either). Typically, this process is only used when dining out at a restaurant or at a formal event. However it is good to teach this lesson at home and then reinforced when eating at a restaurant
Table Manner # 6 - Don't Speak Rude of the Food Being Served
Teach your kids to not make any rude or negative comments about any food being served. It will hurt someone's feelings.

Remind your child that someone took time, energy, and expense to prepare the food, and they should show your appreciation.

Also, teach your kids try a little bit of everything that is served even if they do not like the food. This is especially beneficial when your kids spend the night at a family or friends house. The family member or other parents will be very impressed with this good table manner.

Table Manner # 7 - Say Thank You

Teach your kids to always say "Thank You" when served something. Teach them to always show appreciation.

Explain to your kids why we should say thank you when being served.

Remember, someone took time, energy, to prepare and serve the food or drink, show your appreciation.

To rant real quick, how hard is it to say those two words "Thank You"? I constantly notice that adults do not say Thank You. This is so rude. My pet peeve is when I hold the door open for someone and they do not have enough courtesy to say Thank You.
Table Manner # 8 - How to Eat Bread
Teach your kids that when eating bread or rolls, it is proper to break off a piece of bread before buttering. Eating a whole piece of bread looks tacky.

Dipping the entire piece of bread in the side of butter looks even more tacky. Teach your kids to place a small pat of butter on the edge of their plate and not to butter their bread from the butter bowl.

Table Manner # 9 - Don't Pick..

Don't pick your teeth that is. Teach your kids that they should never pick anything out of your teeth while at the table, it's gross.

If it bothers you that bad, excuse yourself and go to the restroom to pick.

Again, teach your child that no one wants to see inside their mouth plus the mouth carries a lot of germs.
Table Manner # 10 - Don't Shovel...Eat Slow
Teach you kids to eat slowly, don't gobble up the food. Your kids are using a fork not a shovel. Teach them to take their time and enjoy the taste of their food.

As a general rule I tech my kids to wait about 5 seconds after swallowing before getting another forkful or spoonful. Teach your child to place their fork or spoon on the edge of their plate after each bite. This will make them slow down


  1. Let me be the first to say I LOVED THIS Post.... Awesome job. Our kids today (including some of mine) have no idea... and when it comes up I just want to scream. Thanks for pointing out we need to get back to teaching our kids MANNERS!!!

  2. Rev. Kim,
    Manners are a lost art these days. I think it is something that should be brought back to the kids. I grew up with manners and turned out just fine. So I would think that my kids would turn out just fine also.

  3. Great post. Things aren't like they were when I was growing up - you had table manners and showed respect. These are things I want to make sure my daughter learns