Teaching Table Manners

Posted by Janet Heinsler on April 17, 2015

Set an Example. Children learn best by watching and imitating; remember this and be on your best behavior.
No Nagging. If children know that slurping their milk bothers you they will only do it more; there is some sort of pleasure in doing this. Oh, how many times have you told them to wash their hands before dinner and yet they still show up with dirty hands? Do you think that they just might have a small bet among themselves as to how long it will take for you to say something? Instead, use praise as your weapon; you will be amazed as to how well it works when tell them how nice it was to pass the potatoes without being asked, or saying please before they asked for the rolls for the umpteenth time.

Get Them Involved. It won’t hurt them to help out getting dinner ready. The younger ones can help set the table, the middle ones could put on the condiments and pour the milk, and the older ones can help peel and chop fruits and vegetables. It is important to include them so that they understand what is involved in preparing a good home cooked meal and also so they can learn how a table is supposed to be set. An added benefit is that as your family interacts as they get dinner ready, their bond will grow.
Encourage Conversation. Family meal time should be a time that every member of the family gets caught up with what is going on with other members of the family. Encourage everyone to share how their day went, but don’t get into any arguments or make this a battleground. Kids will not look forward to dinner time. At first you will have to be the one to start the conversation. Share some interesting things about your day and then take turns asking them how their day went. If they have a hard time knowing where to start the conversation then ask them a specific question. For example, you know one of them had football practice so ask them how it went.
No Name Calling. No matter how much they may act like one don’t call your kids a slob or a pig if they don’t act in the manner they should at the table. If you do so they will just give up because they will think that they were born to be that way.  If they forget to wipe their face and have sauce dripping from the chin, politely ask them to wipe their face. Refrain from the names.
No Burping Contests. If your child burps at the table teach them to put their hand over their mouth and then to say excuse me. Make it clear from the beginning that the other kids are not to try and out burp the other. This will only lead to problems and they will do it when they go out.