Tips for Teaching Children Good Table Manners
Once you choose which table manners you want your children to exhibit, how do you actually encourage that behavior? Do you have table etiquette tips or tricks to share? Today, our Family Room bloggers are offering a few of the tactics that have worked best for them to reign in dinner time chaos and keep meal time under control.
Tips for Teaching Good Table Manners to Kids
Kris-Ann, Progressive Mom: Repetition, repetition, repetition. Modeling the behavior you want your children to have is the easiest way to encourage table manners. Instead of making the boys repeat something with pleases and thank yous, I repeat their request the way I’d like to hear it. For example, when told, “ I need a napkin” I answer with “May I have a napkin please” each and every time it happens. Eventually they catch on.
Mary, Organized Mom: Imitate what you want them to do. If you don’t put your napkin on your lap, your child won’t. If you chew with your mouth open or smack your lips, your child will too. We’ll often point out good manners when we see them or gently correct when the kids are doing something wrong.
Media Mom: Pick your battles. We will allow our 3-year-old to bring a couple of matchbox cars to the table, for instance, but he has to “park” them to the side while we’re eating. And once he’s clearly eaten enough, we let him leave the table to play if he asks nicely to be excused, but he’s not allowed to ask for help or for a playmate while the rest of us are still eating. By not insisting that he be at table any longer than that, we are able to get him to use good manners for the short time he is there. For my 7-year-old daughter, we have a higher expectation that when she’s done, she stay at the table and participate in conversation for five minutes or so after she’s done, or until others have finished up.
Kate, Rookie Mom: Decide what table manners are important to you based on your child’s age and be consistent with expecting them, whether you’re at home on a Tuesday or over friends’ house on a Saturday. Sit around the dining room table as a family and keep behavioral expectations consistent (i.e. Say please and thank you, keeping food on plate, not getting up from the table until the meal is done) every night. When we slack a bit, we notice Liam has a much harder time coming back to the table and meeting expectations, but if we’re consistent he’s usually good about using table manners.
Lisa: Model the behavior you’re trying to encourage. If you don’t practice your own rules, they will never land!
Allison: As soon as my daughter was old enough to talk, I let her order her own food and drinks when going out to restaurants. It’s a great way to practice conversation skills and she always makes sure to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.