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Teaching Your Child About Table Manners‏

There’s probably not anything more embarrassing than taking your child out to eat and they’re all over the place with their table manners. Trust me I've had it happen to me and it still does happen at times. While my 3 year old isn't as bad, it's my 10 and sometimes even my 14 year old that embarrass me more than the toddler. I remember once taking my kids to Applebees and my 10 year old was probably about 7 at the time, but even now I have to remind him to eat with his mouth closed. They also love talking at the table while eating and I'm surprised one of them haven't choked on their food as yet. We do however have to remember that it takes time for kids to learn the ins and outs of manners, but it’s our job to teach them. Check out these 7 tips for teaching your child about table manners.

#1. Model Proper Behavior

Just because we’re adults, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t model proper table manners for your child. Children learn by seeing and they’re watching you very closely at the dinner table. I know as a parent I tell my children, "do as I say and not as I do", but it really doesn't work that way and if you do the right thing, they will also mirror and do the right thing too.

#2. Be Realistic

Your child isn’t going to be perfect at the dinner table. You don’t want to give them so many rules for “manners” that they shut down and don’t even want to sit at the table. My best advice is to be realistic about their table manners, and be realistic on what is to expected at certain ages. Don't expect your toddler to be able to do the same thing as your teenager.

#3. Utensil Use

By the age of three or four your child will have no problem using a fork or spoon properly. It’s okay to sit down and teach them how to hold a fork and how to put the food in their mouth with a fork (same with a spoon).

#4. Mouth Closed

One of the biggest table manners for children to know is how to chew with their mouth closed. Obviously a 2 or 3 year old might struggle with this, but you can gently remind them. As the child gets older, chewing with their mouth opened becomes a huge NO.

#5. Talking at Dinner Time

There are some families out there who prefer to not talk about their day at the table and that’s okay. However, having a basic dinner time conversation is more than okay. Asking how a person’s day went and then proceeding to talk about it is a very polite thing to do. Go over what a child should not do at the table (sitting on their knees, standing up, whining, crying, or talking over others).

#6. How to Set the Table

If you’re looking for a way for your child to get involved in the dinner process, then teach them how to set the table. This will help them feel more involved in the “dinner making” process, which may result in them having better behavior at the dinner table.

#7. Putting Their Own Dishes Away

Table manners are about not using bodily functions, not being loud, and using utensils correctly, but it’s also about the respect you show others. Putting our own dishes in the sink and cleaning up after yourself is a very good table manner to have.

Now these may take some time with your youngest one but with all things it takes patience and consistency. Be consistent and it will surely pay off.

What are some ways you teach your child about table manners?

Annmarie John
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  1. Loud chewers are one of my biggest pet peeves in life. Keeping their mouths closed when they chew is SO important.

  2. We have always encouraged good table manners. I don't want to have the crazy kids at special functions!

  3. Great tips. It's important we be their guides and help them from the most basic to the complicated.

  4. Definitely a good idea to start young with the table manners. It drives me crazy to see kids chewing with their mouths open.

  5. I love this. I can't stand when someone loudly eats or talks with food in their mouths, and Des sometimes does! He's only two and it's never too early to start him in the right direction.

  6. Eating together at the dinner table at home really helps. We stopped doing that for a while and boy did we see a decline in their table manners!

  7. I remember learning utensil and plate placement from my mother. I've forgotten most of it now. I'm very keen on table manners though.

  8. Well hallejuah for this post - having table manners instilled from a young age is so important.

  9. We went to my DILs mom's house for dinner. She is far more proper than we are, and she was upset when my son wanted to excuse himself before everyone was done. I guess I could work on the one. ;)

  10. Love this! So important for families! I'm glad I married a well-mannered guy, he was so polite on our first date while eating at a local restaurant, I knew he was marriage material! Yup, married him a year later! (Our kids have a long way to go, but see how important table manners are, LOL!

  11. These are great tips. The earlier we teach kids manners, the better behaved they will be as they grow up. The world needs more well-behaved people!

  12. My 5 year old loved setting the table. Our biggest struggle with him is not sitting in his seat properly so sometimes he falls out...which you would think might be it's own most effective consequence but that seems to not be the case.

  13. If you came to my house that is all you would hear from me at the table. My kids are old enough to know and it drives me crazy.

  14. These are all great tips! Practicing these at home make it easier for kids to remember appropriate behavior when we are out and about. One thing that makes me crazy is when my youngest has to turn around in her seat when we are dining out. She loves to look at everyone around us!

  15. We are old school - table manners are a must at our table. Chewing with their mouths open drives my hubby and I crazy! When we dine out - it is shocking how many people do not insist that their children have table manners.

  16. I love this article because I feel very strongly about this. WE have always taught and expected good table manners from our children!

  17. I sure understand this one. When I was given all 5 of my kids to raise, I had issues as well with them smacking their food, etc. It is getting much better now but we have to work on it daily

  18. These are all great Tips. I agree with being a role model first. You can't expect your child to sit at a table if you don't do it yourself

  19. These are great tips! Table manners are important to teach early.

  20. Great tips. My son learned a lot of this in his Montessori schooling. Love that!

  21. My son is 5, so we struggle with this every night. I try to remind myself that teaching manners is a process that doesn't happen overnight!

  22. What a great list! A couple of weeks ago we were at a "fancy" dinner and my son asked which fork to use. it was pretty cute.

  23. Very good tips. I think table manners is so important.

  24. 100% agree that the mouth closed manner is critical. My daughter is great about it but my son is a mess. I just keep reminding them

  25. I hate having dinner with people who chew loudly and with their mouth open. I'm surprised they don't choke either. Great tips on teaching your child table manners. It's definitely something they need to learn.


[name=AnnMarie John] [img=] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook= (instagram= (twitter= (pinterest= (

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