Whether you’re eating at home, dining out, or having dinner with friends, good table manners in kids are important. As parents, by teaching your kids good table etiquette, you are essentially equipping them with tools that will instil social confidence in them. Moreover, children with good manners grow into polite and respectful adults.
Here are a few ways you can teach your child the good eating etiquette:
For younger children (less than five years of age)
It is never too early to start teaching your kids basic table manners. You can use every meal you eat together as a family to teach your child some important lessons. However, you need to be patient and understand that you might need to repeat your instructions several times before your child can understand and follow them. From using utensils to waiting patiently at the dining table, your child can learn a lot if you follow the right approach.
- Teach your child to wash their hands before eating their meal. This is also important for your kid’s hygiene and health.
- Ask your child to wait until everyone at the table is seated and served.
- Help them learn the right way to use cutlery and always place a napkin in their lap to catch food spillage.
- Remind them to never wipe their hands on their clothes or use their sleeves to wipe their face.
- Teach them to chew with their mouth closed and take small bites
- Remind them to thank the food servers, and say ‘please’ if they want someone to pass the food or refill their plate, and so on.
Most importantly, teach your child the importance of food. As a family, you can all say a little prayer before you begin eating. Children are known to mimic what they see. Hence, this might help them understand the value of food. Also, you cannot expect your child to start eating neatly at once or remember each and every table manner. So, you may need to remind them frequently.
For older children (more than five years old)
After your child reaches a certain age, maybe six or older, you can entrust them to follow better eating etiquette such as helping you serve. In addition to basic table manners that would have become a habit by now, you can teach your older kids some more etiquette.
- Encourage your child to offer to help whether eating at home or at someone’s house.
- Teach them to be patient at the table, wait for their turn and always ask someone to pass the food instead of reaching across the table.
- Inculcate a sense of respect in your child and teach them not to interrupt when someone else is talking. Let the other person finish what they have to say and only speak only when it is their turn.
- Ask them to place the napkin on the chair and not the table, if they have to leave the dining table briefly
- Reiterate the importance of placing their chair back in its place, when they get up from the table.
- Teach them to pick up their plate after they have finished their food.
- Ask your child to be cordial, talk to fellow diners and avoid using mobile phones, laptops, music systems, read or do any other activity during mealtimes.
When teaching kids of this age group, you will require more patience. The best strategy to adopt here is to encourage and praise your child and slowly form these etiquettes into a habit.
Overall, remember they are only kids and you, therefore, cannot expect them to be perfect at once. You will need to invest time and effort, and be patient while your child is learning. If possible, make these more fun and as children-oriented as possible to instil these more easily.
Your efforts will help build a strong foundation. At The Blue Bells School for Integrated Learning, we focus on the overall development of a child. We nurture children in an environment that focuses on their holistic development.