How to Teach Table Manners to Children
The Bible teaches parents to train our children to do the right things. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). It is our duty as parents to teach our children manners in all areas!
Recently I discussed the importance of eating together as a family. Today I’m going to focus on how to teach table manners to your children. Which will make eating together much more enjoyable.
It is so important to start teaching your child table manners at a young age. As they grow older, they will know what they can and can not do. However, if you have an older child and are wanting to enforce manners, this list below can help them as well. You are never to old to learn table manners!
Teaching children table manners doesn’t have to be hard. When they are young you can’t go into long detail on why they need to do things. Just keep it simple and basic.
Basic Ways to Teach Table Manners to Kids
Lead by Example: Children will watch their parents to see how they react to situations, so make sure you always lead by example. When you are at the table, say please and thank you when you pass the salt, eat properly, and so on. Follow the manners you want your children to master.
Wash Hands Before Meals: This is one that I think some people don’t do anymore (or at least not enough). Create a habit of washing hands before meals. You don’t want dirty hands going in grabbing a roll out of a basket.
Prayer Time: Once everyone is seated at the table, give thanks and say a prayer prior to eating your meal. You can find simple prayers that your children can memorize and say with you!
Here is an example: God is Great. God is Good. Let us thank him for our friends and our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen! As you can see that is very simple and over time your child might start saying the prayer with you when they learn. Eventually, your child will learn to pray their own prayer.
Staying Seated and Asking to Get Up: Teach your child to sit up straight when they eat. When your child is finished eating, teach them to ask to be excused.
For toddlers who can’t express themselves, you can always ask them if they are finished. If they nod yes, you can then take the plate and say you are excused. This will set the tone with each meal.
Passing Food: Teach your children that when they want something they say, “Will you please pass the (insert item)?” This is a great way to start them out learning not to reach over the table.
Elbows Off Table: Make sure to teach them to keep their elbows off of the table. That they can place their hands in their lap but not on the table. These are basic manners that will last for the rest of their lives.
Thank Whoever Cooked: Make sure to teach your child that when they go eat at someone’s house, they thank whoever cooked the meal. You can start this by teaching your kids to thank the cook in your house. If Mom cooks, Dad should encourage the kids to thank Mom for the meal, and vice versa.
Talk about Your Day: Family dinners are a great time to hear about everyone’s day. Make sure to ask your child how their day was, what was their favorite part of the day, and what they did. This is a great way to create positive conversations and carry on good conversations.
Don’t Talk with Food In Mouth: Make sure to teach your child to not talk when their mouth is full. If they have something they want to say, teach them to chew and swallow the food before they talk. People can see the food in their mouth and that isn’t polite. Also, who wants to get sprayed with chewed up chunks of roast beef as your child talks about Pokemon.
Clean Up After Yourself: If your child is old enough, teach them to clear their plate after being excused. Show them where to place the dishes when they are done. If they have food left on their plate, show them where to place it (i.e. trash) and then place the used dishes in the sink.
As you can see these are basic and simple ways to teach manners to children at a young age. As they grow and learn you can introduce more manners for them to begin to follow!
Want to learn more about teaching table manners? We suggest the following resources!
What manners do you teach your children at the dinner table?