The Holidays are approaching. Lots of dinners. Lots of relatives. Lots of kids. Lots of food. Lots of dinners. Oh, sorry I already said that. With so much food and so many opportunities to eat, children are going to be involved in many of these occasions. This equates to lots of opportunities to reiterate the need for table manners.
Aside from Holiday and Christmas dinners and family gatherings in general, there are many reasons to let your kids know why table manners are important. For starters, most kids tend to have a play date or two in their lives. It's comforting as a parent to know that if your child is going to be dining with another family it's in their best interest to know how to navigate dining at a table and eating in the presence of others. For starters, it's best they know why we have and use napkins and the difference between eating with a knife and fork and eating with one's hands.
Implementing and enforcing table manners is really quite easy. All you have to do is dine with your children. No, I don't mean sitting in front of a television eating pizza or chicken and jo-jos. I mean sitting at a table and eating a meal. Even if you are consuming pizza, you can still show how a napkin is put in a lap (and used to wipe food off one's mouth), and explain how a fork and knife are used.
Napkin use is really important - not just for children but adults too. If a napkin is left on a table, it's is not going to be used. If it's placed in a lap, however, its intended purpose becomes apparent. A napkin was invented to wipe food off of one's mouth BEFORE everyone around them sees all the goo squishing out around the edges. It's to be used instead of a shirt sleeve or collar or the back of one's hand. Napkin use is much like other positive habits like chewing with a closed mouth, and being generally polite, habits which need to be instilled and reinforced over and over again.
Proper use of utensils is equally important as a child grows older. I'm surprised how many kids don't know how to use a knife and fork. Just the act of eating pancakes or waffles for breakfast is a great time to explain how to hold a fork and use the knife to cut (not tear) an item that should be sliced to a bite size before being placed in a mouth. I can't tell you the number of times I've witnessed a young adult stabbing a piece of food with a fork, holding it up to their mouth, and tearing chunks off with their teeth. It's almost comical how much they resemble movies where a cave man is featured.
Much like teaching math, manners require a steady stream of repetition. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are the best sources of teaching. That, and practicing what you preach.
If you have questions concerning style and etiquette please email Lisa Plancich by clicking on the email icon at the bottom of this page.