Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dinner Etiquette for Children

You’ve heard it many times. Sitting down together as a family for a meal is important for children. Families who share their meals together tend to be more in tune with each other.

It’s also important that during those family meals children learn some dinner etiquette, or table manners. Family dinner time does not need to be a formal occasion with rigid etiquette rules. Children should, however, learn some basic manners to use at the dinner (or breakfast or lunch) table in their own home and at others’ homes.

Children should be taught to say please and thank you in all situations. Teach them to say “please” when asking for something to be passed or when asking for more. And make sure they also say “thank you.” In turn, they need to respond with “you are welcome” when someone thanks them.

Another important rule for children at the table is to wait their turn to talk. Dinner time is the ideal time to talk about what happened during the day. Teach children to listen to what other have to say and to wait their turn to talk.

Teach your child how to respond when they don’t like an item on their plate. Tell them that it is inappropriate to look at food and say “yuck” or “this is disgusting.” If there is something on their plate that they are not interested in, teach them to say something like, “I’d rather not eat my cranberry sauce. Is that okay?” Whether it’s okay or not is up to you, but you’ve taught your child how to politely ask. This will be very important when your child is eating over a friend’s house.

Children should stay at the table until excused. Create a rule in your house for how to leave the table. Perhaps they can say, “Thank you for dinner. It was very good. May I be excused, please?” You may also want to teach them to carry their own plate and cup to the kitchen after this.

Other rules like elbows on the table or hats worn at meal time can be left up to your own preferences. However, these basic dinner etiquette rules should be required at all mealtimes whether in your own home or someone else’s.

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