Top 10 Table Manners To Teach Your Kids

Written by on May 31, 2012 in Family - 1 Comment | Print this page


Top 10 Table Manners To Teach Your Kids

We’ve all been to a restaurant or family gathering where you just want to shake the parents and yell, “You need to teach your kids some table manners!” And a lot of parents don’t even realize that they’re the ones everyone wants to shake.

If mealtimes are a free-for-all at your home or you’ve noticed the icy stares from nearby diners when you take your family out for dinner, maybe it’s time to study this list of top 10 table manners for kids.

Wash your face and hands before coming to the table. There’s nothing quite so unappetizing as looking across the table at a kid with dirt-encrusted fingernails and a face covered in whatever it is he ate at the previous meal.

Sit up straight and sit still. Elbows and arms off the table, feet off the chair. Your child is at the table to eat and the dinner table, wherever it’s located, is not a playground. That’s how spills happen and that’s why your neighbors in the restaurant are glaring at you – they don’t want to end up wearing your child’s dinner.  And meals are eaten at the table, not while wandering around the restaurant.

Use your inside voice and wait your turn. This rule of etiquette should always be followed but it’s especially important at the dinner table. This should be a time for family bonding and you can’t do that if everyone is shouting and speaking out of turn. It’s also especially annoying in restaurants.


The napkin goes in your lap. If you’re teaching your child to sit up properly at the table there’s no need to put a napkin around his neck so the other diners can easily see the mess he’s making. The napkin goes in his or her lap and is to be used to keep his hands and face clean, not as a super hero cape.

Please and thank you are a must. The words “Please” and “Thank you” turn a demand into a request and no kid should ever be demanding anything from an adult – especially if that adult is you or a member of the restaurant staff. “Please pass the salt, dad” and “Yes, please, I’d like another glass of water” are two phrases your child should learn.

No reaching across the table. Reaching across the other diners at table is not only rude, it also causes spills. Here’s another instance where “Please pass the salt, dad” works best.

Wait until everyone is served. It’s common courtesy to wait until everyone at the table is served before you begin eating. If it’s a very large group, then at the very least your child should wait for a signal from you that it’s OK to start.

Chew with your mouth closed. This should be tops on the list. If you’re having trouble getting your child to chew with his mouth closed have him stand in front of a mirror while he’s eating so he can see what everyone else is seeing.

Chewing noises and burping are rude. If your kid can’t breathe through his nose while he’s eating then he either needs to go to the bathroom and blow his nose or you need to take him to see a doctor. Nobody likes to listen to chewing, or burping or any other body function noises while they’re eating. If an occasional unexpected burp does pop out, teach your child to quietly and politely say, “Please excuse me.”  And nose-picking is a definite no-no!

No disparaging remarks about the food. There are several old adages that come to mind here – “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” for one, and another is “Be quiet and eat your dinner. There are starving people in …” is another. Yes, children can be picky eaters. But the rule of thumb is – they must be quiet picky eaters so as not to offend the other diners or the person who prepared the meal.

You might think it’s not important to pay attention to your child’s table manners. After all, he’s just being a kid, he’ll grow out of it, right? The next time you go out to dinner without the kids, take a look around the restaurant and really pay attention to what’s going on.

There are more adults out there with bad table manners than you realize. You’ll see plenty of grown ups chewing with their mouth open, reaching for the salt and spilling wine all over themselves and their neighbors, ordering the waitresses around like they’re servants, and just plain being rude.

People don’t learn bad manners. Bad manners are a sign of poor education. Children only learn good manners by following your guidance and example.

This is a guest post. Donna Anderson is a freelance writer who enjoys small-town living in rural Kentucky. She’s an active member of several online communities and enjoys taking part in discussions that focus on how real people can live real lives in this fast-paced world we all live in.


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