Teaching Table Manners
When we teach our children, the basic manners of saying thank you, sorry, please or wishing the elders or any other etiquette, we should remember that table manners also form a big part of our basic etiquette. Children need to be well versed with the table manners that they are supposed to follow, whether at home or in public.

When and How To Start Introducing Table Manners To Kids?

Essentially, if a family stresses on manners and a child grows up seeing things happening in a definite way, it gets inculcated in him naturally. However, if you have a casual lifestyle, you need to consciously imbibe some good habits so that your child picks them up gradually.

Ages 3 to 5

Table manners should be taught to a child when he is close to 3 years. Short phrases like ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ should be a part of your child’s growing up. Make your child sit on the chair patiently, and discourage wriggling. Teach him to us the napkin, and chew with his mouth closed. Tell him that words like “eeww’, yuck are not to be used at the table.

Ages 6-7

Now that the child knows the basics, teach him how to effectively use the fork and the spoon. Kids this age now understand how their actions can affect someone, so you must emphasize on being polite and soft, even if they do not happen to like the food laid on the table. Since by this age a child will have developed his own taste and preferences, teach him how to dispose off the food he doesn’t want to eat.

Ages 8-10

Your child is probably flying solo at this age, he would be visiting his friends and would also be visited. This is the age when you should teach your child about being both a good host and a good guest. He should be taught to offer and serve the guests first before himself. Make sure he chats with everyone on the table, and strictly ensure that he doesn’t bury his head into a cell phone or video-game.

Basic Table Manners That Every Child Must Know

Here are the basic things that your child should know, when he sits down to eat with others-

  • Before starting your meal, you should always wash your hands. Always insist that everyone comes to the table with clean hands and fresh face.
  • Place the napkin on your laps, whether at home or in a restaurant outside, your child should always use a napkin so as to avoid staining his clothes.
  • Sit straight and stay seated, the child should not keep his elbows or chin on the table.
  • Wait for other family members, ask your child to politely sit till everyone joins in. This is the first thing your child should learn. In India, we definitely believe that a family that eats together stays together. Joint family systems still prevail in our society and our elders still make it a rule to have at least one meal together.
  • When the table is fully laid, we serve our elders first and then serve ourselves. If the mother is serving, then too, the child should wait for his turn.
  • You should always chew with your mouth closed – the same shall be replicated by the child. Discourage talking with your mouth full.
  • There should be no noise while chewing. Burping and slurping should be avoided.
  • One should not speak with the food in his mouth. Talking while eating not only gives a bad look but at times, your food is spit out of the mouth, which leaves a very ugly impression on others.
  • Learn to use the spoon and fork. Proper way of holding a spoon or a fork should be taught to the kids. Though in India, we don’t use knife much often for eating, but the kids should know how to use a knife as well.
  • Teach your child not to make noise with the cutlery, while eating. It is considered to be a bad table manner.
  • Teach your child to eat properly, so that the food is not spread on the table.
  • If something that you need is kept on the other side of the table or it is beyond your reach, you should not stand up and walk all the way, rather, ask someone nearby to pass it over to you.
  • Always use the terms please and thank you, while taking someone’s help.
  • Always be seated, till the time you finish your meal. Children should not be walking around or plating here and there, while having meals.
  • Put the chair back, after you have your food. It not only is a part of table manners but a small deed can help your mother fast to wind up her work.
  • Never criticize the food, even though you may not like it. There are times when one cannot be equally good. You should never make faces for the food you are eating.
  • Never waste food, take small helpings and after finishing take another.
  • Always appreciate the food that has been cooked and thank your mother or the chef, if you are in a restaurant. It makes them feel good for the effort they have put in to make you feed.

Raising children is a responsible task – ensure that you raise worthy individuals.