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Tips for Teaching Children Table Manners

When you sit down for family dinner, at home or at a restaurant, it’s comforting to witness your children mind their manners. But these aren’t behaviors that come naturally, rather, they need to be taught. Of course this is no easy task, as children can be easily distracted and sometimes even a little wild. Here are some tips to easily teach your children table manners. 

Start With Hygiene
The first thing you want to teach your children is to wash their hands. This should be something done before any meal, snack or even some activities. Not only is it polite, but it can keep germs from spreading everywhere, from your child’s mouth to the serving spoon. For a guaranteed clean and a way to make hand washing fun, come up with a 20 second jingle your kids can sing while they wash.

Sit Nicely and Be Patient
Children have shorter attention spans than most adults. This means that a 30-minute dinner for you might only be a 15-minute dinner for them. Kids get bored easily, so much so that it can even pull them away from a delicious meal. Patience, in this step, will need to come from both sides. Once a child sits down, they need to learn that it is polite to wait until everyone at the table has their food to start eating. Though there will be plenty of times they will be done and leave the table first, it’s a good idea to teach them to stay until everyone has finished their meals.

Say Please and Thank You
During dinner, second helpings are almost inevitable. If you’re ready for a second helping of veggies, a second scoop of potatoes or another piece of chicken, be sure to politely ask for the plate or bowl to be passed to you. “Please pass the gravy” followed up with a “thank you” is a great way to teach by example. Remind children when they forget, and before you know it, it will come naturally to them. 

Listen to Each Other
The dinner table was made for conversation, and it’s important that all members of the family get a chance to speak and be heard. Even though hearing about Dad’s work day or a test an older sibling had to take at school may not be what a child is interested in, teaching them to listen to and engage with others at the table is vital when learning good table manners. When you listen to others, others will listen to you. 

Help Clean Up
Once a meal is finished, helping with clean-up is a great way to show good manners. Teach your children to help clear the table by giving them a job. Whether it’s collecting utensils or cups, this is a great way to show them how to give thanks for the meal that was thoughtfully prepared and enjoyed together.