While it is very important for children to learn good manners, they may not always see the point in it, especially when it comes to table manners. For kids, these rules during meal times may often just seem like a way to make it difficult for them to enjoy a good meal. While trying to teach table manners and etiquette to your child, it is best to make him/her first understand why they are important, and then help them put these rules into practice. Tell them that while eating in the company of others, it is important to take their feelings into consideration too. They should not do anything that will make it difficult for others to enjoy their meal.
Table Manners and Etiquette for Kids
Here are some basic rules:
- If your child is offered hors d'oeuvres, teach him/her to just take one and say thank you, or alternately say 'no thank you' if it doesn't look particularly appetizing. If he/she does take one and doesn't like it, teach him/her that it is not polite to offer any less than complimentary opinions about how it looks, smells, or tastes.
- Tell your little one that when seated at the dining table, an upright posture must be assumed and hunching reflects badly. The wrists and forearms (not elbows) may rest on the table or alternately on the lap when not eating.
- Show him/her the usage of a dinner napkin. It must be opened out and placed on the lap, and used to wipe the fingers and mouth at the end of the meal. While moving away from the table once the meal is over, the used napkin should be placed beside his/her plate, without folding it.
- Tell your little one that cutlery is meant to be used and not fingers. Teach him/her the usage of a fork, spoon, and knife. Give a general idea of what goes to the left, right, and above the plate. Explain that he/she has to start with the utensils on the outside, and without going into details you can cover few basic items, such as which one is the fruit or fish fork.
- While seated at the dining table, teach them that they must follow the lead of the host or the person in whose honor the dinner is organized. After everyone is served, they must begin eating when the person in question does, try to keep the same pace, and only close their plate when everyone finishes eating.
- It is very important to teach your children not to gobble down food or fill their mouths with it. Teach them to take small portions of food on their fork/spoon, chew it with their mouths closed, and swallow before the next morsel goes in. Remind them never to talk when their mouth is filled with food.
- Explain to them that at a dinner with family/friends, their sole focus must not be the food. It is important to have a conversation with the people sitting to the left and right of them. If your little one is shy or an introvert, you can always prepare him/her with a few simple conversation subjects. The idea is not to have a grand conversation but just to be polite.
- Teach your kids how to politely ask for things to be passed to them, and not reach over people's plates/glasses to get what they want. When the meal is over, always remind them to thank the host for the lovely meal, and mention that they enjoyed the food.
If you help your kid master these manners, you will have no worries the next time you are out at a family dinner, fancy restaurant, or wedding reception. You can enjoy your meals, and be safe in the knowledge that your child's table manners will only reflect good parenting. One last pointer, teach your boys to hold out dinner chairs for the girls and ladies.