How to Teach Table Etiquette to Children

From slurping soup to putting elbows on the table, there are many table etiquette children needs to know even while enjoying a meal. Although it may seem innocent, the habits can be embarrassing for parents when dining at home or in a public place. To teach your children manners while at the dinner table, there are a few steps to follow for long-term success.

Constantly Remind the Child
It’s important to remember that children don’t come out of the womb instinctively knowing how to have manners. It’s important to teach them the basics at a young age to instill respect for others who are around. They need to be reminded constantly in the first few months until the children learn how to complete a meal with proper etiquette.

Set an Example
Your toddler or child will likely follow your lead, even if they’ve been well-informed on table manners. Set an example by saying “please” and “thank you” while also avoiding burping while eating. It will make it easier for the child to take the expectations seriously and avoid any confusion with the rules.

Reward Their Efforts
Offering an incentive to have proper table manners will make it easier for the whole family. Inform each child that if everyone behaves well and has proper etiquette that they’ll each be rewarded with dessert or a movie after the meal ends. In the same way, the children should be properly disciplined if they throw food, spit, or play with the contents on their plate.

Use Play Toys
For some parents, it can be frustrating teaching children proper table etiquette while sitting down for a real meal. Instead, you can teach them while having a fun, make-believe afternoon tea complete with play toys like tea cups and saucers. This way, teaching is more effective to establish the guidelines without having a disastrous meal. Practice during the day and implement the rules once it’s time to sit down for an actual meal. 

Start with the Basics
It’s important to remember that children are still active, even at the dinner table. Allow them to excuse themselves once they’re done eating and play quietly nearby to prevent both the parents and children from becoming frustrated. As they age, you can teach them new rules and guidelines to follow to ensure that they can follow along and enjoy having manners as they mature.

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