With the holidays around the corner, it’s a great time to set your child up for proper table etiquette. This week features a guest post written by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. He’s put together a great article on teaching your child table manners.
Children That Mind Their Manners Are Sure to Impress This Holiday Season!
By Dan Gilbert
Having good table manners is an important skill for young children to learn. It demonstrates respect for others and an understanding of social grace. More importantly, it teaches your child the value of discipline, and lays the foundation for developing the habits and behaviors that will allow them to become more organized adults.
These skills, however, are not innate in young children. Rules of etiquette must be taught and reinforced at the dinner table until they become second nature. By teaching them the importance of obedience and being polite, children are likely to be more cultured and attract friendships with similarly well-mannered individuals.
Start at an Early Age
Polite behavior must be inculcated from the start. Waiting too long can result in a child developing a series of bad habits, which can be impossible to correct. However, given their age, young children must still learn proper table etiquette in stages. Start with simple polite phrases such as “please” or “thank you” when requesting or being served a meal. At age three, you can begin teaching them how to handle various utensils. One of their favorite activities is imitating adults, so it is a good idea to give a demonstration of how to properly use a spoon or fork before dining. Eventually they will reach a point where they will request to use a knife. Have a plastic knife ready and start with softer foods like bananas to practice their cutting skills. Young children can also be taught how to set the table and where to place the dishes and utensils.
When providing feedback to children, it is important to be specific. This is true not just for correcting a child but when offering praise. For example, congratulating a child for setting the table and speeding up the dinner process does more to reinforce the behavior than simply stating he or she did well.
Engage in Polite Conversation
The dinner table also provides an excellent opportunity to teach your child polite conversation. Explain to them how a dinner conversation flows seamlessly, each member taking turns talking, listening, and asking questions when appropriate. Remind them the importance of mealtime as a place for people to not only replenish their bodies but nurture their familial bonds.
Actions speak louder than words, especially under the watchful eye of children. From the day they are born children’s minds are trained to study their parents for clues on how to act and conduct themselves. This applies to both table manners and the meal itself. Eating vegetables regularly and talking openly how they balance out a meal will foster similar sentiments in your child.
Generate a Routine
Habits are brewed from the soup of repetition. Having a consistent routine will ingrain the appropriate table manners into your child’s body and mind. Start with a simple task such as placing a napkin in your lap when sitting at the dinner table, or waiting until everyone is seated before beginning to eat. Develop an easy to follow routine that can be reinforced via repetition, and your child will soon find that proper etiquette comes naturally.
- This article was submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, Primrose Schools has provided a preschool education that prepares young children for a future of success.
Thank you for your expertise, Dan!