Whether you’re eating at home with your family or at a large dinner party, kid’s table manners are important for every meal. Whether your kiddos can’t seem to understand the concept of forks and spoons or you can’t get them to sit still for a meal, you’re not alone. As much as we love our children’s care-free, energetic attitudes, it’s not always welcomed at the dinner table. Here are our 5 tips dedicated to helping your children learn table manners.
Sometimes I wish I had a parenting rulebook that told me what to do and exactly when to do it. Until someone makes that dream a reality, we have to try to do the best we can. While there’s no age restriction on teaching children table manners, it’s never too early to start. It’s always best to start correcting behaviors at the beginning before it progresses into a learned behavior. Otherwise, bad behaviors will become habits and are harder to correct in the future. Some good behaviors to teach at a young age are:
- Teach them “please” and “thank you”
- Wash your hands before sitting down
- No toys or games at the table
- No throwing or grabbing food
- Asking to be excused
Specifics are Important
Kids are super absorbent and absolutely have the ability to understand what we’re asking of them. They may have selective hearing.. but sometimes we have to adjust how we communicate. Instead of using generic praise such as “great job”, try telling them exactly what they did correctly and why you want them to do it in the future. For instance, “Thank you for setting the table. I was very hungry and because you set the table while I was finishing dinner, we got to eat sooner!” It’s easier for kids to hear exactly what they did correctly, so they can remember to repeat it in the future.
Encourage polite conversation
You may not be able to talk about literature or art, but even at the age of two, children can learn how to communicate politely. It’s as simple as showing them how to behave when taking part in a conversation. You can start by showing them how to take turns listening, talking, or even asking questions. Plus, it’s a great lesson to learn for behaviors at school and with friends, too!
Set a good example
Remember – kids love copying adults, especially their parents! They’re always watching, even when we don’t realize it. If you’re telling them one thing but doing another, they may want to do what you’re doing instead. A good example is regarding food choices. If you want your kiddos to eat their vegetables because it’s healthy, make sure you show them that you eat your vegetables, too!
Create a routine
There’s no doubt that consistency is key in a child’s life. When it comes to bedtimes, school, homework, and even table manners! Consistency helps them know exactly what to expect. Start with something simple like putting a napkin in your lap when you sit down, before starting to eat. They might need reminders every now and then, but creating a routine that’s simple and easy to remember makes a huge difference for children.
Teaching children table manners doesn’t have to be complicated. It may seem impossible sometimes, but by taking baby steps, you will be having peaceful dinners before you know it! Perfect table manners won’t appear overnight, but with a lot of patience, the process will be so much easier. What are some of your tips for teaching children table manners? Leave your comments below!