5 Table Manners Kids Need to Learn

Table manners are part of what we teach children about eating. Manners are more than which fork to use or whether or not fried chicken is a finger food. Their primary purpose is to show respect to the other people at the table.

Tables manners can only be taught around the table

When children practice the basics of common courtesy and respect for others, mealtime becomes a pleasant occasion. The following list is a starting point for teaching table manners.

Table Manners Basics

  • Wait to begin eating until all serve their plates.  That keeps one person from being stuck holding a serving dish while you eat.
  • Take small bites. Doing so allows you to chew and swallow in a short amount of time when you want to say something. No one wants to look at partially chewed food in your mouth, if you talk before you swallow.
  • Leave the table for activities such as picking teeth, blowing nose, and coughing excessively. Many people find these behaviors revolting.
  • Compliment the cook. When a person has spent time preparing a meal, he or she likes to hear the family’s appreciation.  Also, as a sign of respect to the cook, try a little of everything rather than saying, “I don’t like that.”
  • Ask permission to leave the table.  This is a way of showing respect to the others still eating.  We should not require small children to remain at the table for extended periods while adults visit; however, once excused, they should go about their play and not return to the table.

For age guidelines when teaching table manners, see Family Education.

Purpose of Table Manners

The whole point of table manners is to make mealtime a pleasant experience for family and guests.  Using the right fork is something our children can learn after these basic courtesies are mastered.

Question: Can you share some ideas for teaching table manners to children?  

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