Animals eat. Humans eat. What’s the difference? It’s table manners.
Now, good table manners are not about using the right fork. That is etiquette, and I am no expert in that department, and etiquette also varies from place to place. Good table manners are about mindfulness. Mindfulness of those dining with you. It is essential that we teach our kids to be good dining mates, and not have others cringe while they dine with them.
Always remember though, that children learn best from watching us, so don’t just prompt them or tell them, show them how to behave at the dinner table.
Here are some basic table manners that I believe children should be taught:
- Offer food to others before you start serving your own self.
- Never play or fiddle with the crockery or silverware.
- If there’s a napkin, lay it on your lap. It isn’t supposed to sit there.
- Wait to be asked to start eating, or at least wait till everyone is seated, depending on the situation.
- Always let your elders go first.
- Don’t extend your arm over the table to reach out for food. Ask someone to pass it to you.
- Avoid letting your food drop onto the table while serving yourself.
- Take little portions. Don’t fill your plate with too much. You can always take seconds.
- Don’t chew with your mouth open- no one needs to hear your chewing.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full. Anything that needs to be said can wait till you finish that bite.
- If it seems like the food’s running out or might not be enough, take little.
- Never burp out loud in front of others. It can make a meal very unappetizing for others.
- Don’t stare at others’ plates while they eat.
- Don’t take food from someone else’s plate unless they offer you some to try.
- Pause between bites. It isn’t a contest.
- Don’t get up till everyone’s finished eating.
- Clear your plate when you’re done and clean up anything you may have dropped out of your plate.
- Never say anything bad about the food. If you don’t like it, just keep quiet and don’t eat it.
- If the food tastes good, always tell the cook. It is very encouraging.
What do you think are some important dinner table manners to teach children?