Teaching children good table manners as soon as possible makes for pleasant and orderly family meals, both at home and in restaurants. Like most things, it takes time for the table manners you teach to sink in with your kids. Patience and consistency are the keys to success.
- Step 1
Start at an early age. Even very young children can understand simple commands and basic manners, so there's no reason why your kids can't learn to behave at the table early. In the beginning, focus on getting your kids to keep their bottoms on their seats and avoid making messes.
- Step 2
Make your kids ask to be excused before they will be allowed to leave the table. Kids can understand this rule as early as three years old.
- Step 3
Show your kids how to use a fork, knife and spoon. At first, you should just focus on getting them to use the utensils instead of their hands. Then, you should teach them how to hold each utensil properly.
- Step 4
Start to teach your kids more specific table manners around the beginning of grade school.
- Step 5
Sit each child down and explain what should and should not be done at the table. Tell your child to wait for everyone to be served to eat, to put his napkin in his lap, to chew with his mouth closed, not to make rude noises and all of the other common table manners.
- Step 6
Reinforce good table manners by praising your children when they behave properly. Point out and correct impolite manners as soon as you see them. Don't let bad manners persist, but be gentle and calm with your corrections.
- Step 7
Ask your child to leave the table or remove her from the table if she refuses to behave properly. A grade-school child is old enough to understand consequences for bad behavior. Let your child know that when she can act appropriately, she can rejoin the family at the table.