Ways To Teach Table Manners To Your Kids
This blog post was contributed by Sweet T Makes Three.
Beyond just a healthy meal and a clean home, dinnertime with the family can provide a new set of challenges when it comes to helping kids understand the importance of good table manners – at home and in public. When you think back to your childhood and what you remember being taught at a young age, there’s a good chance that table manners topped that list. If you are looking for some suggestions on how to teach your child table manners, here are some great tips to help get you started!
1. Lead by example: While this may sound simple, it can be overlooked. To be able to teach your little ones, you have to be a good example yourself. Start by making sure that your table manners are on point, before beginning to teach them by giving yourself a quick refresher. Since having kids, I’ve had to remind myself not to slouch over my plate or leave the table before everyone is done eating.
2. Wait to eat until everyone is seated and served: Sometimes, hungry tummies want to dig right in, so explain to your child that the proper way to begin a meal is to wait until everyone is seated and served at the table. This can be a hard concept, especially when those tummies are growling. Staring and sitting at the table can make it even harder to wait. To help teach this manner, occupy your child by having them help set the table, bring food to the table and then help to serve everyone once seated.
3. Napkin on the lap no matter what: To reinforce this manner, have your little one place their napkin on their lap first thing after arriving at the table. Create a fun game with them so they remember to do this first. Tell them that their legs look cold and they need to cover them up or make up a fun rhyme to help them remember. Who doesn’t love a clever food rhyme? “Always set the napkin on our lap, it can be done in a snap.” Pretty good, right? It’s okay to act a little silly with them. Silliness may help them remember their manners a little bit better.
4. Try a bite before declining: Little taste buds can be tricky to conquer. My picky eaters probably wouldn’t survive if it weren’t for peanut butter sandwiches! One manner to teach them at a young age is that it is polite to try a bite of the food placed in front of you before deciding to decline. While their minds may be telling them no, once they take a bit their taste buds may say yes! If your children are reluctant, don’t be discouraged. It can take presenting a new food up to 50 times before your child is willing to try it! Consistency is key.
5. Tush in seat till everyone is finished with dinner: This is one I struggle with since I eat quickly and want to hop up to start cleaning! No dining and dashing allowed though. It’s proper to wait patiently until everyone seated has finished their meal. Often, dinner time may fall smack dab in the middle of play time or something else exciting going on in your kiddo’s life. Let them know that for every meal, no matter what outside influencers are happening, the family will be starting dinner together, and finishing dinner together. This will help calm that anxious feeling of them wanting to get up and go!
Teaching table manners doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Be engaged with your child while explaining the importance of each one. The more that they understand the need and importance for table manners, the more likely they are to use them. While the ones above are just a few suggestions, try starting with a couple of them and see how it goes. As they get the hang of them and they become more of a habit, you can start introducing others as well!