By Lisa Edwards, Parent Coach
With any large celebration or holiday, you may find yourself, with your children seated around a large dinner table surrounded by friends and family. This is a happy time, and you want to make sure that your children are using their best table manners…because of course, you always want to impress Grandma!
Here are some sure-fire ways to make sure your child is “wowing” the crowd with their manners…and not their burps!
How to Teach Table Manners
Teaching your kids manners gets them into the habit of showing gratitude. They may not “feel” grateful, but as the habit grows so will their sincere gratitude. Our feelings follow our actions, so teach the actions and you’ll eventually develop the feelings. It really works!
Here are two simple steps to make teaching table manners a snap! Modeling and Practicing.
Model – Do you use good manners? Make sure that you are modeling the behaviors for your children. They learn most by watching at a young age. If they see you using table manners, they will start to use them too.
Practice – Practice makes perfect! Your child needs practice to perfect a new skill. Start by explaining the manners. Below are 7 basic manners that you can teach your family. Then, during family dinners together, practice these skills. Kids need opportunities to practice (and fail) before they show table manners naturally.
7 Easy Table Manners
- Wait for everyone to be served before eating – The general rule is to make sure that everyone has their food before you start digging into that hot delicious meal in front of you. Patience can be the hard, but encourage your kids to really try this. And don’t forget to model it!
- Napkin in your lap – Teach your children what the napkin is for…although it seems easier to just wipe your hands on your pants or shirt. Placing the napkin in your lap helps catch food that drops and makes it handy for wiping your hands.
- Don’t reach across the table – Remind your children to ask for items using the phrase, “Please pass the …”
- Chew with mouth closed – And- don’t talk with your mouth full! A fun way to remind your kids is with this “Dad” joke – “Do you like seafood?” Get it..”See food.” No, nobody wants to see that!
- Say Please and Thank you – Practice these two words to the point where your children use them naturally. Sometimes over-doing it helps to make your point. With young kids, you can make it a game to see how many times you can each say please and thank you.
- No elbows on the table – Or any body parts! Make sure everyone sits up at the table and is ready to engage in the conversation.
- Take your plate to the sink and always say thank you to the cook. – This is an excellent way to end any meal. Compliment the cook by saying thank you and telling them what you liked. Then, make sure to help clear the table.
If you follow these 7 easy table manners, you will be guaranteed an invite back to another family meal.
Helpful Tip for a Picky Eater
Good manners are difficult for children who are picky eaters. Be proactive and prepare them for the holiday meal.
For instance, if you are on your way to Grandma’s house and you know that your child is a picky eater, prepare them in case they dislike everything that’s being served.
- Remind them of what an appropriate response would be when they are offered a food they don’t like. “No, thank you,” is polite and an easy response to remember. Practice it before you arrive.
- My son was very picky and sometimes I would feed him before we got to someone else’s house, just in case he didn’t like anything. We also have a deal where he has to at least try a little bit of some of the food that are there. He was much happier with a full belly and knowing that he only had to try new foods.
- Tell your hosts about your child’s eating habits and if you have fed them ahead of time. It helps your family to understand better when kids refuse certain foods. Ask your family politely to accept your strategy. This will ease things for you and your child.
Please share below or in our Facebook Group any hints you have to share about how to help your picky eater in social situations.