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 embarrasses 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 hasn’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 about what is to be 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 manners 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?