Table Manners for Children

Good table manners for children are important skills that should be developed when they are young. If you adopt the 'do as I say and not as I do' approach it simply won't work. Bookmark and Share

We have provided a list of 26 useful tips on Good Table Manners for Children further down this page. You will find them very helpful.

Your child must see you and the rest of the family setting the etiquette and good manners standards, be it at the dinner table, greeting people or answering the phone, in fact, with anything and everything you do.

Remember you are never alone, the little eyes are watching your every move! How else do children learn? They mimic the way you sit at the dinner table, the way you eat, the way you walk, the way you talk, in fact they mimic everything you do.

They spend their early formative years almost exclusively with you, then they go to pre-school and realize there are other ways of doing things and other people to watch and mimic.

Notice how up until then your child rushed to wash his hands before sitting at the table to eat? In fact he loved the idea of splashing in the water and mimicking what dad did.

Perhaps take an opportunity such as this to explain why one washes their hands before a meal. Explain that all the germs from everyday living is clinging to the little fingers and fingernails.

After the meal...

Children are at most times messy eaters, using their little fingers to assist shovelling the food into their mouths, let them go off and wash their hands again after the meal. Nobody wants messy finger prints on their walls and furniture! Even if you don't mind cleaning up after them, think of the times they are a guest in the home of someone else.

If the parent doesn't follow through with this small but important rule (in your home) feel free to tell the little ones to clean up - after all it's your home and you like to keep it clean.

Maybe, so as not to offend anyone, make a game of it and show the little ones on a clean piece of white paper how they can see their fingerprints ... one doesn't have to be a strict teacher (smile).

Well now at school he has noticed his friend Peter never, ever washes his hands before eating, and so he argues why should he have to wash his hands?

All of sudden your child's table manners have gone to pot! He has begun to burp, slurp and try to outdo his older siblings and friends with the grossest behavior one could ever imagine. His manners are shocking, most of his showing off is normally done at the dinner table for maximum effect.

Relax mum, this is quite normal and sometimes even humorous. But unfortunately for your child, now is the time for you to hit him on the head with the imaginary blue book of 'Table Manners for Children,' - only kidding! it's now time for you, the parents to set boundaries and to reinforce good behavior, ignore the bad behavior and bad manners, and keep setting the good manners example - you have to practice what you preach.

It is so important to remember at all times that good table manners for children always start in the family home.

Have you had the misfortune to experience the famous little-boy-burping contest? Again the burping competition is usually performed at the dinner table. This seems to be something (mainly boys) just have to do.

Dad, please don't laugh, and please don't compete! Don't even try to ban it! Just give the little guys some boundaries. Actually only one boundary, to never, ever do this when adults are within sight or hearing!

As part of the table manners for children lesson, perhaps take this opportunity to explain to the children how table manners and etiquette differ from country to country. The children find it amusing that in some cultures burping at the dinner table is a way of showing good table manners and appreciation for the food, but in your country, your culture and in your home it is definitely a no no.

Explain to the children, it may be part of the 'Table Manners for Children' rule book in another country, but definitely not part of YOUR 'Table Manners for Children' rule book.

Mostly, children display amazingly good table manners and etiquette when they are visiting friend's homes. You almost feel like asking the other parent if they are sure it is your child they are praising when they tell you how well mannered he or she is at the dinner table.

I say mostly because some children when they become teenagers think that when they are away from the constraints and watchful eye of parents it is the ideal time to be as bad mannered and anti-social as possible. They have to be 'cool' in front of their friends.

When ever you receive a good report regarding your child's wonderful table manners. Praise the little angel.. Say, "I am so proud of you, Johnny's mum told me how 'grown up' you behaved at the dinner table. I believe you even served yourself without messing, you were very polite and well mannered, I was pleased to hear you waited until you were offered the food and didn't just grab first like you do here, then you actually waited for everybody to start eating before you started, you even asked to be excused from the table when you finished eating. Well done kiddo. I'm so proud of you!"

Table manners for children should just be a normal way of life. Always praise and reinforce good behavior. Be specific about what impressed you (so that they can repeat the performance). The fact that your child showed good manners and table etiquette while a guest in someone's home is something to be proud of. It is a reflection of the type of home your child is being raised in.

Try not to turn meal times into a table manners for children lecture and discipline nightmare. Not only will you all suffer dreadful indigestion, but it will turn dinner time into a time of dread and distress for everyone. We know the 'old school of thinking' dictated that 'children should be seen and not heard' at the dinner table. I don't agree with that.

Personally, I used dinner time as quality time with my family. A time to share the day's events and discuss a variety of topics. It was a time to relax, I really looked forward to gathering around the dinner table as a family unit. Good table manners and etiquette were just a normal part of our every day meal.

It was quite normal to say things like, 'keep your elbows down, you look as if you are about to take off', 'ask your sister to pass the salt, don't stretch in front of her'. There was no need to turn the whole meal into a table manners and etiquette lesson.

Friday night was usually a dinner theme night where the children and their friends got to use chop sticks (Chinese), or sit on cushions on the carpet around a fondue meal or curry. By doing this the children learned that table manners and etiquette differed from country to country and different cultures had their own set of etiquette rules. You don't have to throw the 'Table Manners for Children' rule book at the children every time you sit down to a meal.

The point I'm making here, is that dinner time around the table was a pleasure, something to look forward to, it was also a way to teach children table manners, how to mix with and talk to adults in a respectful, confident way, it was a lesson in socializing and etiquette in a fun atmosphere.

I believe children should be allowed the occasional meal in front of the TV, but it should be a treat and not the norm. How do you teach table manners and etiquette to children while the children are totally mesmerized by the box? They can barely find their mouths!

As I keep stressing - lead by example. If dad sits at the table in a vest or without a shirt on - the children will do the same. They will also do it at their friends' homes, the shopping mall, even when you are on holiday and staying at that 5 star hotel. You cannot bring out the blue book of 'Table Manners for Children' when on holiday and expect the children to become instant models of good manners and etiquette for a few weeks.

In fact they will keep doing it even as adults. Good manners and social etiquette should be a way of life, the way you as parents live your life in your home. If you and hubby never say please and thank you, you can hardly expect the children to.

A few quick tips on table manners for children:

Washing HandsBookmark and Share

Have 3 absolute rules about washing hands. These are NOT negotiable!

Table Manners for Children Rule no 1. Hands must be washed before eating, whether it is at the dinner table or a picnic in the park. Don't let up nagging about this one. Tell your child this must be done whether they are at school, at a friend's house or anywhere else.

Table Manners for Children Rule no 2. Hands must be washed after using the toilet.

Table Manners for Children Rule no 3. Hands must be washed after playing with pets.

Table Manners for Children - Serviettes on the Table

Don't label the child a messy slob when he drops his spaghetti on his lap at the dinner table. Instead offer him practical advice. Hand him a napkin and explain to him why they are on the table. By labelling and calling him a messy slob, you have reinforced the behavior and just accepted that is the way your child will always be. So why should he change?

General Dinner Table Manners for Children

1. Wash your hands before eating

2. No toys, or pets to be brought to the table

3. Take your cap/hat off at the dinner table

4. Place serviette on lap when seated, it is good etiquette and useful too

5. Wait for everybody to be seated before starting to eat

6. Don't stretch across the table, ask someone to pass what you need

7. Say please and thank you - not only at the dinner table, it is generally considered to be good manners

8. Don't talk when you have food in your mouth and don't stuff your mouth too full

9. Cut your food to mouth size pieces, don't just stab the sausage and take bites from the fork

10. Chew with your mouth closed always; not only at the dinner table and don't smack your lips noisily

11. If the food is too hot, don't blow on it. Wait for it to cool or eat from the edges where its cooler

12. If your hair is long, don't flick it around at the table, also don't comb your hair at the dinner table

13. Don't wave your cutlery around, it is messy and dangerous. Place your cutlery on the edge of the plate when not in use

14. Take butter from the dish and place it on your side plate and butter your bread from there

15. Use your cutlery and not your hands to eat

16. Don't put your knife in your mouth

17. Don't play with your food

18. Rude comments about the food is not only bad mannered, it is hurtful to the person who cooked the meal

19. Don't monopolize the conversation at the table or talk over adults. It is good manners to let adults lead the way

20. Don't take food from other people's plates at the table

21. Ask for seconds if you are still hungry, don't just help yourself

22. Sit up straight, no slouching, no elbows on the table

23. Ask to be excused from the table

24. Take your plates and cutlery to the kitchen

25. Don't pick or blow you nose at the table, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom

26. In my imaginary blue book of Table Manners for Children there is a special rule: occasionally thank mum for the lovely meal, not only is that good etiquette and manners, it is caring and nice and mum will really, really appreciate it!

Parenting is not only about teaching good Table Manners and Etiquette to Children it is also about teaching the children Social Etiquette

Try not to banish the children to the play room or computer room when you have guests over for a meal. Let them help serve the snacks with the pre-dinner drinks first. Occasionally, let them join the guests at the dinner table too.

This is the way children learn adult table manners and etiquette and how to behave in adult company. This will help them feel confident and comfortable in all adult company and will feel at home anywhere, at any occasion and any place.

It is important for children to have good table manners and social etiquette, it is equally important for them to learn good manners and etiquette in the family home. It will prepare and benefit them in all aspects of their life.

Some parents think that the school is the place for their children to learn about good social skills, good table manners and etiquette, self discipline and how to be considerate. And to add to that, they expect the teachers to educate them as well!

There is no reason why good manners and etiquette cannot be taught at home. Children who are raised in a home where being well mannered, considerate, socialized, polite and tolerant is the norm will have lifelong survival skills. They will always be accepted and welcomed no matter where they go. It really is worth the effort.

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Or go direct to our other pages relating to children:

Children's Manners & Etiquette

Children's Telephone Manners

Children & Funerals

School Etiquette

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