Manners, whether table or social need to be taught.  Today’s parents sometimes are lax in teaching their kids manners.  Manners are more than just rules of behaviour - it is also about respect.  Eg. Saying ‘thank you’ when someone gives you a meal is about respect for that person who took time, effort to prepare a meal for you, whether you like the meal or not.

Teaching a child what behaviour is expected of them is a daily process as most parents know and good manners are the key to your child’s social success.  It’s not hard to understand that children who have manners are better liked by both adults and children alike.  Manners has certainly been linked to later success in life and this teaching needs to be done by parents not school or child care.

Manner’s covers lots of different areas.  There are table manners, social manners, sportsmanship are manners in disguise, politeness and consideration is also manners.  The one most people think about is table manners.  If you are lax about table manners at home don’t expect your children to miraculously develop table manners because you happen to be sitting in a restaurant.  You need to practice good manners at home, every meal so that your children are prepared when you go to a restaurant.  Watch your child’s manners at dinner and ask yourself would you be embarrassed if they use those manners in public?  You, as the parent need to decide that bad manners will not be tolerated in your house and teach your children other ways.

How to start?  Let them know what manners you expect and what they mean.  Get yourself a book on manners, kids love to see or hear about manners in books other than just you telling them.  Take every opportunity to praise polite behaviour and good manners at the table.  Describe what you see rather than just saying that’s good manners.  Eg.  I see you are keeping your plate in front of you and the food on the plate.  Talk about manners before you start the meal.

Whether in a restaurant or in a home, here are some basic table manners to teach kids from Dr. Dave & Dr Dee.

1. Eat with a fork unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers. Only babies eat with fingers.

2. Sit up and do not hunch over your plate; wrists or forearms can rest on the table, or hands on lap. You don't want to look like a Neanderthal.

3. Don't stuff your mouth full of food, it looks gross, and you could choke.

4. Chew with your mouth closed. No one wants to be grossed out seeing food being chewed up or hearing it being chomped on. This includes no talking with your mouth full.

5. Don't make any rude comments about any food being served. It will hurt someone's feelings.

6. Always say thank you when served something. Shows appreciation.

7. If the meal is not buffet style, then wait until everyone is served before eating. It shows consideration.

8. Eat slowly and don't gobble up the food. Someone took a long time to prepare the food, enjoy it slowly. Slowly means to wait about 5 seconds after swallowing before getting another forkful.

9. When eating rolls, tear off a piece of bread before buttering. Eating a whole piece of bread looks tacky.

10. Don't reach over someone's plate for something. Politely ask that the item to be passed to you. Shows consideration.

11. Do not pick anything out of your teeth, it's gross. If it bothers you that bad, excuse yourself and go to the restroom to pick.

12. Always use a napkin to dab your mouth, which should be on your lap when not in use. Remember, dab your mouth only. Do not wipe your face or blow your nose with a napkin, both are gross. Excuse yourself from the table and go the bathroom to do those things.

13. When eating at someone's home or a guest of someone at a restaurant, always thank the host and tell them how much you enjoyed it. At least say that you liked the dinner or mention a specific item that was particularly tasty, i.e. the dessert was great. Again, someone took time, energy, and expense to prepare the food, so show your appreciation.

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Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

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