Don’t Raise Rude Children! Basic Dinner Manners Your Child Should Know

I have 4 little ones, and life is a little crazy right now! Sometimes in the day-to-day craziness, we forget about the specifics- like teaching particular table manners! Obviously I try to model good behavior and I hope that my littles will grow up to be kind, respecting adults, but it can be hard to pull things off the top of my head when you’re in the middle of the chaos;). Having a specific list of things you want to teach can be really helpful!

*Say please and thank you. While this definitely needs to be a habit in all aspects of life, the dinner table is one of the easiest places to teach these basic manners! Remind your kids to be courteous as they pass food around the table, ask for seconds, etc. Particularly, teach them to show gratitude to the chef or whoever made the meal- whether it was their favorite thing to eat or not ;).

*Try everything once. No matter how picky your kids are, teach them to try at least one bite of everything. If they don’t love it, they don’t always have to eat it- but they need to learn to at least give everything a shot!

*Keep elbows off the table. My kids tend to occupy way too much space because they like to slouch all over the place ;). They definitely need reminders to sit up straight and keep their elbows off the table so they’re not in each other’s personal space ;). This is just a good habit to get into anyway! Sitting up straight wherever you are!

*Don’t talk with your mouth full of food. I love having conversations with my family at the dinner table, and it’s the perfect opportunity to remind my children to finish swallowing their food before joining in ;)

*Chew with your mouth closed. Nothing is worse than feeling like you’re surrounding by a bunch of cows chewing on their cud! Remind your kids to keep their mouths closed! Along with this, teach your children to take appropriate-sized bites- it’s hard to chew with your mouth closed when you take a bite as big as your fist!

*Wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER you eat. No one wants to be passed a bowl of mashed potatoes by someone with grubby hands! Washing your hands before you eat also prevents so much more illness! Remind your kids before they eat, or make it part of the setting the table routine so they just get in the habit!

*Have good conversation! This doesn’t always come to mind when thinking about table manners, but it’s actually a really important skill! Your kids need to know how to ask appropriate questions, answer in more than just yes and no form- how to carry a good, basic conversation. This will help them with dating, future jobs, making friends- in so many aspects of their life! (It’s also a great time to teach them about which topics are not so great for the dinner table ;) ). A crucial part of this as well is to teach your kids that electronic devices DO NOT belong at the dinner table. It’s rude, and makes it really hard to bond ;).

*Help clean up. No matter where you are, teach your children to clear their place (if appropriate), and to generally clean up their area: place their knife and fork on their plate, their dirty napkin to the left side, etc. Whether you’re eating in your own home or at Grandma’s, teach your children to offer to clean up! Many hands make light work, and your children will be better people for it!


    Camille Hoffmann
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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