10 Table Manners Your Kids Should Learn

Now Mind Your Manners!

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

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

It has also been shown that teaching your children proper table 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 is 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 are 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.

Whether in the privacy of your home or in a public restaurant, below are some basic table manners to teach your kids:

Table Manners for Children: Teaching Kids to Use Utensils

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 Manners – Spotlight Must Have

Table Manner # 3 – Chew with Mouth Closed

I am sure you can 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 grosses me out. I hate to look at 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 it 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 hardheaded 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 wants 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 to 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.