8 Tips for Teaching Kids Proper Table Manners

Youngsters Can Learn Proper Table Manners that Dazzle

family eating dinner

Many kids may know how to sit still, use a napkin, and how to cut with a knife and fork, but do they really know proper table manners? The holidays, school dances, and other social events are prime occasions for kids to demonstrate appropriate table manners. Here are some tips for teaching proper table manners:

Teach kids how to greet relatives and guests

Many kids simply don't know what to say or the appropriate action to take.

If the occasion is at your home or you're serving as host, instruct your kids about properly opening the door and taking any coats. (Show them how to hold them and not to roll them up in a wad.) Teach them how to properly shake hands and how to appropriately hug relatives.

Talk about the no-no's

Talk to kids about "double-dipping," slurping, licking fingers, or the ever-tempting dragging a finger across the side of an item to taste it (i.e. icing on the cake).

Stay seated till everyone is done

Kids should stay seated until the dinner is concluded or until there becomes an obvious point where kids are being excused and going elsewhere so that adults can linger.

Use utensils

Only eat with fingers if it is meant to be eaten with fingers. Explain to youngsters the difference, and how french fries are even meant to be eaten with a fork and dipped into ketchup rather than with hands during certain occasions.

Explain bread etiquette

Kids need to learn not to butter the entire piece of bread; rather, butter is placed on the bread place, and then a bite-sized piece is to be buttered only. Explain how some breads are to be "torn off" with your hands while other types may need to be cut. Younger kids won't be apt to understand the differences, but older ones should be able to make a distinction.

Offer your kids some conversation ideas

Be sure to emphasize that they are not to talk with their mouths full or too stuff too much in their mouth, or chomp with their mouths open, or other disgusting kid habits. Kids should be reminded to eat slowly and to not gobble down their food.

Model manners for kids

Teach kids how to place the napkin in the lap and how to sit up straight and near the table. Be sure to let youngsters know not to put their elbows on the table. Model for kids that asking for something rather than reaching across the table to get it is the right way to do it. The proper table manners protocol is to pass food from left to right (counterclockwise). Emphasize that proper table manners are for everyone to be served and the host/hostess to pick up a fork to begin eating.

Adults should set the stage for success through practice

A "fancy table" can be set up at home and kids can ask questions and practice so that they are comfortable and familiar enough to wow everyone with their great table manners when it truly counts!

Updated by Jill Ceder

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