Table manners kids should know

Begin with the idea that mealtimes are pleasant and that good behavior makes them more fun for everyone. Talk with your child about the importance of good manners, and encourage him to think of himself as a polite person. Set realistic expectations, then gently enforce them until they become habit.

A few finer points;

He should know to wash his hands before he comes to the table, and to leave his toys and books behind. You’ll want him to sit up nicely at the table (keeping his feet under the table, not on the chair), not to tip his chair back, to say “please” and “thank you,” to use his utensils instead of his fingers when appropriate, to ask to be excused when he’s finished eating, and to take his dishes to the kitchen sink or counter. Thanking the person who prepared the meal is a nice touch, too.

Tell your child that he’s old enough now to learn some adult table manners, too. Some nitty gritty you might like to teach him:

l To wait until everyone is served before starting to eat

l To put his napkin in his lap and use it to wipe his mouth (only)

l To comment nicely on the foods he likes (and not to say anything about the food he doesn’t like)

l To take small bites and chew with his mouth closed

l Not to slurp

l How to use a knife and fork to cut his food

Which utensils to use when faced with a choice (smaller fork for cake, bigger spoon for soup, for example)

Most important, help your child polish his communication skills at the table by including him in discussions and teaching him to talk pleasantly. Point out that this is a great time to chat with each other and that you’re interested in his day.