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28Aug 13

Good Behaviour: Teaching Table Manners to Children

Good table manners for children are essential. That’s what my mother told me!  So I took her advice and made sure my Tom and Mary learned from an early age how to behave at the table.

But that is no easy task nowadays, as fast-food takeaways, busy working schedules and after-school activities can all get in the way of a family dinner. You need to start the learning process early and persevere!

Good Behaviour: Teaching Children Table Manners

Good Behaviour: Teaching Table Manners to Children

Check Your Own Table Manners

Children learn best by example, so it’s a good idea to review your own table manners and practise what you preach. Sound like a breeze? Not on your life! My son Tom, now ten years old, was badly behaved at the dinner table when he was younger: slumping in his chair, pushing his food around on the plate, and even playing with his Game Boy games. But I found that gently correcting his bad manners by telling him what he should do instead was a good way of improving his behaviour.

I have also found that explaining the purpose of each rule is important. If children know why they should not do something, they will be more likely not to do it. For example, when kids talk with their mouth full, they are more apt to choke on their food because they aren’t paying attention to chewing or swallowing properly. Or if they stretch across the table for something instead of asking politely, they might accidentally dip their sleeve into someone else’s dish!

Tips on Table Manners

I am confident now that when Tom or Mary are invited to a friend’s house for a meal, their good behaviour at the table will not let them – or their mum – down!

Here are a few of my top basic table manners:

  • Get children to help set the table. Show them where to place plates, glasses, knives and forks as well as the purpose of each utensil and how to use them. How can they be taught to eat properly if you do not teach them the basics?
  • Teach your children to sit properly at the table. No slouching. And remember that golden rule – no elbows on the table!
  • Wait to begin your meal, as informal as it may be. Since I usually serve the food, I am the last to sit down. But they know that they cannot start until I give the blessing.
  • No complaints about the food and say ‘thank you’ before leaving the table.
  • No mobile phones at the table! Teach your children that taking calls or texting is very rude. But follow your own rule – put your phone on silent and away from the table.

What are your tips on table manners?

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