“Look, don’t touch!” You may say to a child when you’re in a gift shop or museum. But what happens on special occasions when you’re a guest in someone’s home for a meal, as in Easter? When a fancy dinner rolls around every few months, will your fidgety child be able to stay in his seat and make you proud?
It’s not until outside adults come to dinner at your house — or you’re at theirs — that you can see your kids through their eyes. Many a pained parent has suffered their child’s rude manners in front of Meemaw. With weekly dinnertime basically a virtual free-for-all in many households, a quick refresher may take a few nights to sink in for your kids, but it’s worth it.
Teaching manners to kids may have become more challenging because of the constant present of technology, but even 5-year-olds have the ability to wait their turn to talk, says Jodi Stoner, author of Good Manners Are Contagious. For children younger than 5, the best place for them to eat may be a a kid’s table, but you still will need to monitor that food doesn’t get thrown to the floor. But if kids will be sitting with the grownups this year, be sure you remind them in ample time about greeting people with eye contact, and waiting until the adult has finished greeting them to run off and play. Parents can come up with a secret signal Stoner says, that the kids can watch for to remind a child to wait before interupting or anything else that may be significant.
Here are top table manners your kids ages 5 and older should be able to manage:
• Wash your hands before coming to the table.
• Do not bring a Smartphone or other device to the table.
• Place your napkin in your lap.
• Wait until everyone is seated and served to begin eating.
• Chew with your mouth closed.
• Don’t talk with your mouth full.
• If you need something that’s not nearby, ask someone next to you to pass it
• No elbows on the table.
• Don’t play with your food.
• When finished eating, ask to be excused.
BONUS! If an elderly grandparent is about to take a seat, hop up and pull the seat out for him or her!
TOP TITLES FOR MANNERS FOR KIDS
Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids
Manners for Kids & Their Families by Katherine Flannery
365 Manners Kids Should Know
50 Essential Etiquette Lessons
A Parent’s Guide to Manners for Kids