The importance of good dining etiquette is inevitable in social and professional gatherings where you wish to portray yourself as a respectful and refined member of the society. Bad table manners can make the others sitting at the table cringe and even hinder your chances at being invited again by the same people; regardless of how nice you may be. Parents should start cultivating good table manners in children right from when they are toddlers.
However, whether you have a pre-teen that runs back to his video games after guzzling his meal within a couple of minutes or if your 12 year old blatantly refuses to avert their eyes from their phone and tablets, it is never too late for kids to learn good table manners. Dining etiquette, to the children, may just be an additional set of rules they have to comply with. Nevertheless, the key to getting your older kids conduct themselves considerately is to treat them like grownups and make the process of dining a fun experience; rather than pushing them to follow the “rules”.
What they shouldn’t do
Kids should be taught about what is agreeable on the dinner table right from a young age. Talking or eating loudly is not appropriate. Neither is starting before everyone has settled down or leaving the table abruptly. One shouldn’t talk with their mouths full. It is repulsive to others sitting and the table and there is also a risk of choking. Negative comments about the food like “Yuck!” are highly unsuitable.
What they should do
The kids shouldn’t fidget on the chair and a proper posture must be maintained for better digestion. The usage of napkins should be employed for wiping off food from the face and hands. May I, please and thank you should be used while asking for the salt shaker or the bread basket instead of lunging across the table. Their cutlery skills must be put into practice unless the meal includes designated finger food.
How to administer the rules
Lead by example-If you are distressed about your children picking up bad mealtime practices from their peers, don’t undervalue your influence. The parents should make sure that they themselves follow the norms of what is acceptable and what isn’t. It may sound ridiculously simple, but well-mannered parents have well-mannered kids. Follow simple etiquettes that you would want your child to follow like not getting any electronics to the table or picking your teeth.
Get them involved by giving them simple tasks like chopping and peeling while preparing the meals. Ask them to set the table after teaching them how to do so. Don’t lose your temper over slight forgetfulness but straighten them out with a light prompt that barely qualifies as nagging. Appreciate more than you fret, correct with simple explanations, and don’t offer rewards for good behavior.
Set realistic expectations, and then mildly reinforce them until they become a habit. It’s worth remembering that any good dining etiquette goes a long way in shaping the personality of your child/children and is helping them grow their self-confidence.