Children aren’t born with manners, they chew with their mouths open, eat with their hands, throw food, burp…the list goes on! In most houses dinners with a child under 5 is a messy event, and learning good manners will serve them well later in life. The good news is, teaching your child table manners can be easy and we have a few tips under our belt to help you.
Why Are Manners Important?
Manners aren’t just about saying please and thank you. Explain to your child that manners are a way of showing kindness to other people at the table, they are rules that apply to everyone, and a way to show people at the table what a big kid they are.
The most important rule when teaching manners is that it’s ok if they make mistakes, just teach your little ones the basic skills and work on improving them, this will make your child more confident in social situations as they get older.
Pre-schoolers are ready to learn and eager to please, and most are very receptive to introducing table manners to their dinnertime routine. Of course not all children are the same but teaching your child one manner at a time is key so that you don’t overwhelm them.
It is important to remember that Kids learn by watching, mimicking and practicing. YOU are your child’s best role model, so make sure that you yourself are practicing good table manners at the table and setting a positive example yourself.
5 Top Table Manners To Teach Kids
- Wash hands before coming to the table. Explain to your child that clean hands will keep them healthy. Make it easy for your child by having a small step by the sink and maybe some special soap for them to use to make it more exciting. This is an easy habit for them to grasp and you’ll soon find them running off to do it themselves before eating, without you even having to ask!
- Say please and thank you. This shows respect and gratitude to the person that made or served your dinner. These two words cannot be overused when showing your appreciation.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full. No one wants to see all the food in your mouth, or have it sprayed across the table! Remind your child to take small mouthfuls and swallow their food before talking.
- Avoid using devices at the table; no phones, tablets, TV, video games etc. Collect all devices before the meal starts and stick to it. This is not only polite but respectful to the people at your table. It also enables your child to focus on and enjoy their food, and interact with the people around them.
- Help clear the table at the end of your meal. This doesn’t need to be a big job, encourage your child to help out by carrying their plate and cup to the kitchen side. Remind your child that kindness and gratitude can be shown by helping out.
Keep Calm, Cool and Collected!
When implementing these rules, remember that your child will not learn them all straight away until they become habits. They will make mistakes just as all humans do, and if they don’t want to do a specific manner you are asking them to do, keep calm and try again the next day. The key to making this work is to keep your cool, remind yourself that there is no rush in learning these manners. Your child will learn from your positive example, and grasp them when they are ready!